Every season or so I visit the National Victorian Gallery to see what has changed. I was there last week. Not much had changed. I was walking through the Modern and Contemporary Art sections, most likely embarrassing my accompanying friend by smirking and raising my eyebrows at almost every single piece. How is this art? It doesn’t depict anything recognisable and the accompanying summaries are completely far fetched. Even the names aren't worthy of art: Untitled no. 18, Black smudges on paper, Vertical faded stripes. Oh, come on! Does anyone else think that perhaps the people who 'ooooh' and 'aaaah' over these pieces do so because they think everyone else 'gets it' while they don't?
I understand art is often a very different thing to its audience than it is to its creator. Art is fascinating because we can draw things out of it, get lost in it, understand it(or atleast understand the meaning we draw from it). But how the hell you can get lost in 'Vertical faded stripes', I don't know, unless you're on acid. Can anyone shed some light on why such useless unimaginative things are placed in national art galleries? Maybe I should paint polka dots on a photograph of my breast and say it represents the struggle between conformity and personal freedom in this messed up world. Maybe I shouldn't.
With all this said, I appreciate artwork you can see a story in. Renaissance paintings, Medieval manuscript art, Modern photography; they all appeal to me. They capture a moment in time, and the viewer can create the rest. I like art when it is obvious in its beauty. When it's not pretentious. Like these..
Sure, they may be 'Fashion Photography' rather than Modern Art pieces hanging in a gallery, but I'd rather stare at them over scribbles on a canvas anyday, and I'm not ashamed to say so.
Photos: Geoffrey Barrenger