Time for Art to Turner over a new leaf

ONE person’s incomprehensible daub is another person’s masterpiece because art can be such a divisive subject, so it is no surprise that the Turner Prize frequently defies belief.

I’ve covered art events of all sorts and believe you me the range of subjects has been matched only by the range of talent.

Local art should be encouraged because it represents ordinary people doing their best in mediums from painting and sculpture to ceramics. As such, unless in a competition, it does not deserve to be heavily criticised.

However, the same does not apply to art on a national stage and particularly art held up as the pinnacle of achievement by an internationally recognised body.

The Turner Prize has bemused me for years with its gushing praise for a range of exhibits from a rumpled bed to a film of a man in a bear costume wandering round the streets of Berlin at night!

Truly weird but not as weird as the 2009 Turner competition which was hailed as the best in its 27 year history.

I can do no better than quote an awed critic’s comment on one entry which read: “Roger Hiorns’ cow brains and crystallized bedsit questioned our assumptions about certainty, materiality and the future.”

Did it now…well you just sit there quietly until the men with white coats get here.

The 2011 Turner Prize continued to boggle minds with four shortlisted offerings including an artist whose installations have been inspired by concrete trees and another artist whose sculptures are made from lipstick, Vaseline, nail varnish, eye shadow and…oh yes, one more key ingredient…soil!

I’m sure soil has an important place in the world scheme of things but not, in my opinion, in the world of art.

For myself, I like a nice landscape perhaps embracing a country lane scene on one of those breathlessly hot afternoons when the world seems to pause and all is still except for the insects and the occasional swish of a cow’s tail.

This is perhaps a traditional view of art and under no circumstances whatsoever should it be taken as the only acceptable one because art means so many different things to so many different people and the world would be a very boring place indeed if traditional were the only approach.

You do need variety because it is, after all, the spice of life, but my argument is that quality should be the national guideline for art not its shock value.

How light and shadow are brilliantly revealed by the artist’s use of paint has to take preference over how the artist used a bicycle tyre or their naked left buttock to get that paint to the canvas.

There have to be certain recognised standards for art and the Turner Prize has clearly blurred those standards.

I find it particularly amusing to read that the competition – last year worth £40,000 – “is intended to promote public discussion of new developments in contemporary British art and is widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe”.

It certainly promotes discussion, but the lion’s share of debate that I’ve heard is rooted firmly in total disbelief that what is contending for the Prize is really art.

My home has art from paintings and pottery to glass that I am very fond of, but the Turner school of thought can see art in what I put out for the dustmen.

So perhaps I’ll keep this week’s bag of food waste in readiness for the 2013 Turner Prize event this October with my entry exhibit entitled – Anguish in the Kitchen.



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