Bad painting

The last few days have been quite interesting. Colleen has not been well – so I’ve had problems sleeping through worry. Three and four hour sessions of sleep a day, over a period of weeks, does interesting things to your head. I’ve found myself lately just mentally shutting down mid conversation with people, which I presume is why we’re not built for that kind of lifestyle. Or perhaps we are and that’s why the great one in the heavens also created coffee and nicotine. Fantastic – what a bloke/woman/tree/flying spaghetti monster… whatever.
Anyway, I’ve been incredibly productive the last month or so – probably because of the bizarre sleep patterns. A large raft of canvases that have been lying around unfinished for ages, as well as those that were coming to their natural end through process, and some new pieces have all been completed. I honestly don’t know where these drives come from; if I did I’d ask them to pace themselves thank you very much.
Well today I’ve been forced into a break. I’m out of canvas that has paint dry enough to continue on top of so I thought I’d take up the invitation from Motorboy to check out a show in Centrespace, Bristol that he’s got some work in. I couldn’t really say no could I? It was a chance to catch up with Motorboy before he moves to Berlin. It was a chance to see the first show of his work put together in an environment that it could be appreciated properly. It was a chance to get out and away from the frustration of smelling turpentine but not being able to do anything constructive with it. It was a good afternoon, so good that I think Colleen and I put our names down for a piece by Cyclops, one by Ghostboy and two by Motorboy. So everyone that wants presents from us this Christmas will just have to do without…
We had a brief bite to eat and said goodbye, and considering that we were only a few minutes away popped into the Arnolfini to see what was nailed to the walls in Bristol’s alleged high temple of contemporary cultural edification. You can already tell where this is going can’t you…
I’ll be fair – the Albert Oehlen show ‘I Will Always Champion Bad Painting’ wasn’t the blood pressure raiser that I thought it would be. There was one painting in there that stood out over the rest, but it was away in the smaller room of the gallery, so I suspect that perhaps I was reading more formalist strength into the piece than the creator or curator, but then perhaps its positioning was a deliberate irony. Or not. Perhaps it was all deliberate, perhaps it was all accidental. Perhaps it was good art because it seemed in general to be championing bad painting – and that was its stated aim. Perhaps it was just bad art because it was bad painting. Perhaps it wasn’t bad painting, but just painting that didn’t match my taste (or the taste of many other punters in there by the sound of things).
You know – most of them don’t understand what they’re looking at, despite desperately wanting to. It’s like an uncommitted agnostic checking church every week, desperately seeking out a security blanket of faith. This was a Sunday afternoon…


“A Private View at the Royal Academy ” (detail) by William Powell Frith


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