Ad Reinhardt

Only a bad artist thinks he has a good idea. A good artist does not need anything.
-Ad Reinhardt

New Work: Biomorphic Composition

Biomorphic Composition
Cork, oil, ink, graphite and styrene mirror on canvas
Jane Pearrett 2015

Grayson Perry at the Turner Contemporary...and a nice day out in Margate

Perry Pot Part

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, I do like to be beside the sea! ................A couple of weeks ago now on a Friday evening Robin said, "I really fancy going somewhere tomorrow for the day, it's going to be hot". So we thought of Margate. A few things helped us decide this: the relatively new Turner Contemporary, the newly opened Dreamland and the fast train which now goes from St Pancras (which is handily close to where we live) plus remembering that it has a very big sandy beach.

The train takes you right to the seafront so you're straight in there, strolling along saying things like "I can't believe how hot it is" and "the beach is huge" and "smell that briny smell". Then passing the newly refurbished Dreamland and the amazing old amusement arcade fa├ž's a feast for the eyes!

After a refreshing cuppa we took a walk along the harbour then back to the beach where I was sent in to test the temperature of the water: the verdict? "It's coolish but tolerable," I said. Anyway, there were loads of people in the sea so that made it more reassuring. So, after a bit of delicate manoeuvring of towels we had changed on the beach into our bathing gear and in we went to the murky Margate waters. What a joy...I've swam abroad many times but there's nothing like the achievement of getting a swim in our own waters especially if it's NOT torturous. We weren't even cold when we came out because it was so hot on the beach...amazing!

All that swimming brought on a good appetite so we were ready for brunch which we had at the Turner Contemporary cafe, sitting on the outdoor terrace where you get a great view of the bay. Afterwards, a quick exploration of the retro clothes shops and then off to Dreamland. It was a shame that some of the big rides weren't working (especially the Scenic Railway) so we decided to save this adventure for when we visit again but we did buy some tokens to play on the vintage amusements. Firstly, on the classic old juke box, we selected Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran, followed by a go on an Elton John themed Pinball Machine, then the Sharpshooter and Speedway plus various types of bar football...oh and the unique experience of the Laughing brilliant! I want to go back when it is fully operational and I definitely want to ride the 'Counter Culture Caterpillar' just because I like the sound of it.

Later we went back to the Turner Contemporary for a proper look. It's free to get in and lovely and cool if you're there on a hot day. There's a sound installation by the Mexican artist Carlos Amorales in the Sunley gallery with a superb North Sea view as a backdrop. You can have a bash on the cymbals at various times throughout the day if you feel so inclined.

We Will See How Everything Reverberates 2012

We didn't know what was going to be on at the gallery so we were pleased to see there was a Grayson Perry show called Provincial Punk. It was great to see such a big collection of his pots, which are very captivating. We got quite dizzy going around so many and you DO have to go all the way around them to observe the detail and jokes. They are covered in text and embedded with photography revealing Perry's personal take on social history which is both comical and dark. The pots themselves are nothing to write home about but this is all right as they are, quite literally, vessels to transport his ideas. I felt the same with the huge tapestries. Personally they do little for me aesthetically but Perry uses them in a somewhat traditional way, which is to tell a tale or record modern day life. This is something that he (being so good at communication) does extremely well; you experience him working this storytelling and commentary through various different mediums in this substantial show.

Sadly we couldn't give as much attention to the show as we would have liked as time was getting on and the lure to go back outside for more sun, sea and cream teas was too great. Overall, it's the clash of culture that makes Margate great. It's still very rough around the edges though, make no mistake. I felt a need to get away from there as the evening wore on, seeing how packed the drinking places were getting I could sense a rowdy and chaotic vibe. Luckily we had arrived early so we left early and that suited us just fine.

I really hope we get some more hot days this summer as I want to go back again for another dip into the treasures of Margate.

Photograph by John Hinde


Agnes Martin

I went to the Agnes Martin exhibition on Sunday at Tate Modern, which was really enjoyable. I thought her work was serene and beautiful. I may write about my experience at a later date, but anyway here's one of her quotes that appeals to me because of its positive slant.

The adventurous state of mind is a high house... The joy of adventure is unaccountable. This is the attractiveness of artwork. It is adventurous, strenuous and joyful. 
-Agnes Martin

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol...

My last post about Jeff Koons contained a quote by Andy Warhol which reminded me of this book which I read a couple of years ago. This morning I fished it out and it's entertaining me again but this time I'm just dipping in here and there. Andy's autobiography is quirky, funny and spot on regarding the themes of love, sex, food, beauty, fame, work, money, success and art.


Thoughts on Jeff Koons after visit to Gagosian Exhibition: Sprayed

What a strange man/artist Jeff Koons is...or is his strangeness completely cultivated? What does it take to be a really famous and successful artist in today's global art market? Is it enough to just quietly get on with your work? No, not if you want to be an international player. If you want that you have to be very good at business and understand how to market yourself or get somebody else to do that for you. Andy Warhol once said: “Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business. They’d say “money is bad” and “working is bad”. But making money is art, and working is art - and good business is the best art.”

Well, I think Andy was brilliant but what did he spawn? There's no doubt that Jeff's one very smart cookie, he's a producer of 'smART', that's my name for it. He's an arch manipulator, a pied piper that lures many into his hyper-art world. A brilliant business man and smooth operator. But was Andy right? Is business the best art? I think not, but Warhol was the best there's ever been at combining the two because the art part still seemed to have some sort of integrity.             

I'm reminded of Grayson Perry's Reith Lecture, Democracy Has Bad Taste. Has Jeff created works which are deliberately in 'bad taste' to shock and attract attention; to draw in a greater catchment of people? If people no longer have good taste then bad taste is the only way to go, long as it's made really well it can be sold as some sort of exclusive art object.

One can't help but be taken with Koons though; when confronted with his work, you do get drawn in. Firstly trying work out how the thing's been made and what exactly is going on. Followed by a realisation that all is not what it seems. Then total disbelief at the nerve of it... followed by a bit of a laugh at the absurdity of it all. 

Seal, Walrus (Chairs) 2003-9

On our recent visit to the current exhibition at the Gagosian called Sprayed we experienced precisely this effect. One of his pieces being stacks of white chairs with what appears to be blown-up inflatables incorporated into them. Made out of metal these inflatables are crying out to be touched, to be checked with your fingers; but you can't touch so you have to rely on your eyes to notice that all is not what it seems; but we were fascinated...we were caught in the Koons web.

Coincidentally we recently watched the BBC's Diary Of A Seducer, on Koons. Here we saw him growing up via snippets of film from the 50s and 60s. We discovered his Father passed on to him a passion for objects. We find out who he admired: Duchamp, Picabia and Dali. His admiration for these three is very evident: in Duchamp with his Readymades, Dali with his cultivated persona and interest in metamorphosis and Picabia, I suspect, for his wit.  We see him developing his taste whilst working with Chicago-based Ed Paschke (whose work I much prefer). It would seem it is through Paschke that he develops a penchant for the underbelly of American culture via the media, but of course Paschke's forerunner would have been Warhol and so I believe Andy is the starting point in terms of approach, in more ways than one. 

Ed Paschke
La Chanteuse (Oil on linen) 1981

Most artists are pretty normal people but normal is not what attracts attention. Koons understands this and like Dali and Warhol has created a persona that is harder for people to read, therefore he himself becomes the point of interest for the viewer. A work can get away with being second rate when people buy into the character of the artist; that is when it no longer matters about the art. To buy a Koons would be to buy part of the man or the brand. 

I wasn't surprised to be informed by the fact that our very own Damian Hirst is a fan of Koons and owns one of his pieces which resides in his studio where he (like Koons) employs skilled workers to make up his art. He is our British version of  Koons but in persona they are different: Koons is slick, business-like, a little unsavoury and softly spoken; like a church minister up to no good. Hirst is a wholesome cheeky-chappie, a sort of working class down to earth-ish type. Oh, and similarly both men have had the magic wand of Saachi cast over them.

Koons seems also to be selling some sort of American Dream gone awry. Below is one of the giants of the American celebrity/media culture, one that created his very own fantasy world and there have been a few, especially from the music business: Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton for example have made the dream into a bizarre larger-than-life reality. Koons seems endlessly fascinated by this idea and seems to be becoming one of these characters himself...Koonsworld has got to be done! 

Michael Jackson and Bubbles 1988

The exhibition at the Gagosian is free to get in and although I haven't mentioned any of the other works on show it is an enjoyable exhibition. I do like themed shows and this one called 'Sprayed' does what is says on the tin... also the last two works pictured here are not in the show.

Ed Paschke Documentary

I just enjoyed this old documentary on Ed Paschke and thought I would include it here as I'm writing a piece on Jeff Koons at the moment and the two men are linked. Jeff worked for Paschke in Chicago when he was developing as a younger artist and makes a brief appearance in this film.