It’s been a while since I’ve been on here and it’s been quite an interesting and busy ‘while’. I’ve finally got married to the wonderful and beautiful Colleen who I’ve been living with for the last dozen or so years (basically in preparation for our plans to run away forever to France), I’ve spent two weeks in Brittany trying to figure out what sort of house we want to live in and trying to establish where we want that house to be and I’ve been painting my arse off getting work ready for the new year’s art fair season.
I think we’ve settled on the Finistere region of Brittany as being the ‘place to be’ for all kinds of reasons. These include the fantastic church architecture, the beautiful wooded landscape, the lovely open towns and villages and nothing at all to do with wine at less than two euros a bottle. Honest. The final excuse came today where, in a small town (and I mean small), I went into an ordinary newsagent to try and pick up an English newspaper and was confronted with a magazine selection that offered me twelve arts magazine choices. There and then, without having to order specially or in advance; without having to go to an ‘arts’ venue that happened to sell arts magazines. I managed to leave with only two, which Colleen probably thought was quite a good result. Admittedly, if they’d been in English I would probably have taken the lot. One magazine in particular (AZART) had some incredibly strong work throughout – painting is still valued seriously outside of London. Thank god.
On the art front, things have also been quite chirpy this year, so far at least. Art-file of Bicester sold a fair bit of work at the London Affordable Art Fair and both they and Morgan Boyce Gallery of Marlborough are threatening to take my work to the Islington Art Fair next January. The Rostra Gallery in Bath have taken some of the new work for a joint show starting this May and I’ve also got to finish some more pieces for the Bristol Affordable Art Fair later this year.
Last week we were in Brighton and finally arranged successfully to meet up with Antony Micallef. We’ve been promising to meet up ever since the neomodern site has been running, but circumstance and distance have always prevented it to date. We had an entertaining evening in a Brighton hostelry talking art bollocks all night. Which is nice – if you like talking art bollocks… His career has really rocketed lately and we talked about the benefits and the lunacy associated with such a sharp step upwards in the art job stakes. People start digging up every old bit of work that you’d done your best to forget and plonk it up on ebay. The secondary market goes ballistic and though the artist doesn’t benefit financially you have to put up with endless criticism of ‘selling out’.
Banksy is the victim of the same problem. The work develops a market away from the established fine art gallery circuit, the secondary market puts prices beyond anybody but the investment collector and the sniping starts – with Banksy the most regular and vociferous attacks seem to come from the Guardian art blog pages. Now that the ‘secret’ is out he’s no longer the darling of the media trendies.
Linking Micallef and Banksy is the Lazarides gallery in London. I saw the Faile Collective show there recently and was astounded at the quality of the work. It was another one of those clichéd art moments… Don’t rely on a photograph to show the work at its best. I’ve seen a fair bit of the Faile Collective ‘torn fly-poster’ assemblage pieces online and in photographs from friends but they really don’t do the real work justice. If you get the opportunity to see their painting make sure you take it. There was a real love for the medium they used as well as for the medium of the subject they were depicting. The compositional value of the paintings were in the tradition of the Modernist abstract aesthetic and not through any reference to a ‘real’ wall of torn fly-posters and old advertising hoardings. There was a very careful and measured use of colour, method and subject within each piece too. It restores your faith in painting as a vital medium that can still stand tall in the current heady heights of a conceptual and video art obsessed art planet.