Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Must painting require a painted surface?

Judy Millar
Gow Langsford
11 November – 5 December 2009

With this current Judy Millar exhibition we get the chance to look closely not at the actual works of her Venice installation (it comes down in a week) but at some ‘unshaped’ rectangular works made at the same time, using the same scanning technology.

There has been a certain amount of controversy around Millar’s methodology here. Some feel she has abandoned the surface qualities of painting, and that she is somehow cheating by scanning a small painted image that is then considerably enlarged to suit the spatial and architectural circumstances of each venue. That by using digital and photographic techniques the claim to be painting is forfeited. That she should have used very big brushes like brooms, or assistants for muscle-power if needed, to make the whopper subtractive ‘paint-marks’ she displayed. That small paintings on paper used for scanning cannot possibly provide anything like the fine grained texture of directly applied viscous paint when enlarged.

The counter-argument I think would go like this. The above comments are fair enough if Millar was trying to work in the same tradition as say Bernard Frize, where the boundaries of the notion of manual control in mark-making are being extended – but she is not participating in that discussion. Her work’s methodology is really akin on one hand to Roy Lichtenstein’s pretend comic-book brushstrokes which are enlarged drawings of brush marks, and on the other, the digital scanning technology that somebody like Christopher Wool often uses. The notion of the wiping hand or sweeping arm correlating to 1:1 ratio sized marks is not so relevant now – though it was of course earlier on.

Millar’s priorities have changed because she is concentrating now more heavily on architectural intervention – an interest she first proclaimed with her Robert Leonard curated show at the New Gallery in 2005. This the Gow Langsford presentation clearly and brilliantly demonstrates. The planes of the two very large stretchers and the marks their ‘fake’ surfaces bear calculatedly thwart the palpable real space of the room – to the extent of one even being jammed between a white column and wall so that a section is hidden, and the other being suspended out towards the centre of the room away from the wall surface. The canvas is an object to be played with as a movable barrier as well as a depth-laden illusionistic ‘window’.

Apart from methodology, a second issue is surface, the lack in the enlarged images of the different matt and gloss sheens detectable in her older ‘proper’ painting. I imagine Millar could have faked these qualities if she had wished, by screening strategic lines of glossy varnish over parts of the digital images – particularly mark ‘edges’ - but she decided not to bother. She let them stay consistently matt.

Let us consider the fact that some painters varnish their image surfaces (the whole picture plane), not for reasons of physical protection but to integrate the surface qualities of different media – to provide a less optically disruptive uniformity, especially with dark tones. The scanned works have those qualities as given, and Millar could have varnished her smaller works to match them

The problem she has with her Auckland show is that she is mixing up her painting-surface types and that jeopardises her aesthetic rhetoric – it undermines her argument. She should be consistent, take a definite position and stick to it. The small conventional, non-scanned works could be matt varnished over their entire surfaces to correlate with the large stretchers, or the whoppers could have fake glossy streaks or edges superimposed to mimic the smaller ‘authentic’ paintings. Or else have all works placed under glass - as one work on paper is.

Millar is hesitating when I think she should be more theatrical, treating surface with the same lack of preciousness that she treats architectural space. She needs to tease her audience even more than what she is doing already. What if she scanned all her works and rejected surface qualities altogether, making the two sorts indistinguishable. By abandoning any interest in tactile surface she could focus entirely on site, forget the historically entrenched mores of painting and concentrate totally on it as an idea without a past, concentrating on ‘pure’ installation as architectural intervention instead.


..... said...

In the 2004 publication IS / NZ Judy Millar expresses a delight in the finest quality paint and says "It's even more pleasurable to buy the most expensive yellow and turn it brown" (p26)

Perhaps the same corrupting impulse is at play here; turning a painted surface into a print. For me the question isnt 'is this a painting' but is it any good?

John Hurrell said...

Yeah but good what? Painting or installation? She has gone through a significiant head change since 2004. Now she seems keen to tackle architecture head on, more through real than illusory space. And if she includes small 'conventional' paintings they are there as part of a bigger strategy, working in coordination with the whoppers as mechanisms of intervention. I don't she has really been a painter for a while. Paintings are now her tools for a grander (more total) sculptural method.

name said...

John that is way too generous. The work stinks - literally - that material oozes bad smells. The work stinks in other ways too of course - its not clever or interesting - its not good painting nor good sculpture, and no where near good in terms of its reading as a spatial intervention (and i use the term good as it was used in the above q + a). Anyone caught defending the work always goes back to the 'formalities' - the mark etc etc, but its gone in these large printed works. it wreaks of an art school methodology of 'pushing' the work - by enlarging, manipulating and shifting material. This inane attempt to affect a space is just not working. She is clearly attempting to emulate her partner Katharina Grosse's work. The inclusion of the small works says more about her fulfilling the markets requirements than it does an attempt to articulate a bigger strategy.

John Hurrell said...

Lots of art smells,Name. Whoop-de-doo. You are being over emotive. The woman clearly knows how to shift paint around, whether that stay as maded or be photographically enlarged. And she is a better colourist and image maker than her partner.

My quarrel with her is not over the enlarging method or even the loss of surface qualities.It is over consistency and that all works in the gallery space should have the same type of surface if it is an installation. Which she claims it is. Surface has consequences for the spatial depth of the image, and it is surely crucial decisions don't appear to be coincidental.

Consistency is a value I respect, hence my disagreements with Simon Ingram and others at various times. I don't think artists can have it each and every way, or keep their cakes and gobble them up too. Some positions cannot be supported if you include the opposite as well.

luna said...

I am going to leave alone the quality of the work, but rather address the presentation of the work as a show. I think an artist must always consider the exhibition space when creating new works for a show. The two HUGE works in the show completely swallow the relatively small Gow Langsford Gallery space and suck all oxygen out of the room. Come on, have you ever seen an enormous painting exhibited on a wall where a pillar obscures part of the painting and cuts the imagery in half. I hope the works were better displayed in Venice - the imagery struggles enough without being crammed into too small a space.

John Hurrell said...

Hi Luna

The big works deliberately wage war upon the architecture. The artist designed them that way to impose themselves upon the space.

Do you mind giving us your full name? This something the site insists on for all forum contributors.

Mark Leonard said...

My first reaction to the large printed works was negative. However the more time I spent in the exhibition the more I was interested in the installation of the works. This was particularly the one which cut through the space and behind the pillar. The piece on the right that was hung slightly away from the wall was far less effective for me, perhaps because it relied less on the gallery space and I still look at as if it were just a reproduction of another work.

I too found the presence of the more traditional works drew my attention to the surface of the printed pieces. Not so much the presence or lack of brush strokes, of gloss or matt, but rather the artificial material which spoke to me of billboard advertising and commercial images.

Though I enjoyed the canvas works and the work on paper I wonder if their presence distracted me from appreciating fully what I feel was the more important part of the exhibition.

John Hurrell said...

Interesting observations Mark.

One thing I'm curious about is the imagery of the paintings and printed 'paintings'. What do readers make of the illusionist space and how it operated (if at all) in real space? Did the marks represent anything other than Millar playing with pictorial depth, or her bodily motion as she manipulated her materials?

tobias said...

Having read the review and the comments following, can I just point out that whenever a criticism is becoming quite personal - such as the comment on Judy Millar's partner and an apparently obvious emulation process, this in combination with an art lover's offended nose - it hardly ever seems to come from the actual author of the review, but almost always from a bystander; whose lines are invariably riddled with spelling mistakes, and signed by generic names, such as "name". Why is that, please?

John Hurrell said...

There is no accounting for human behaviour,Tobias. Why do you not provide your surname? Why are I so incredibly saintly and tolerant - despite exasperating circumstances?

It is obvious I am trying to improve the tone of the discussion here, and the best way to achieve that is for all contributors to give full names. It won't always guarantee a poisonfree environs for art conversation, but it will certainly help.

name said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon Esling said...

Now that it has been brought up, I'd like to ask something from you John. Can you please check your spelling and grammar? Sometimes in both your reviews and your comments your spelling and grammar is patchy. It does undermine your insights because it seems hurried. I know you're of a generation that's pre-txt, so I expect better. Everyone makes the occasional mistake but I think for this Forum to be taken seriously the critic should be on top of his game. Sometimes your writing is as clunky as these anonymous contributors.

I completely agree with full name disclosure. If you are going to critique the art, and not get personal, then there is no reason for anonymity.

John Hurrell said...

Irrespective of the content that they are expressing (which I might happen to sympathize with), I will trash all contributors who do not give an identifiable name. If they give only a Christian name, I will very seriously consider doing the same - weighing up if they just simply can't read, or are a bit dim, or if they are giving me the run-a-round. My call.

John Hurrell said...

Simon, your comments are absolutely accurate. With the reviews, I have a spell-check which I usually remember to use, but some things get through under the radar, especially if I continue revising after I have pasted on my original draft.I often continue to tweak the language, to make it flow better, and those irritating little typos sneak in.

As you observe, I often write quickly, sometimes 2-3 things on the go at once. Usually I look at the draft and if it doesn't feel right, will sit on it for at a least overnight, or maybe a day, worrying about the wording, (does it express what I want it to say, can it be defended, is this too severe a position, or too generous etc).

However because this is not a hardcopy publication, its advantage is immediacy and currency. I try and write quickly to build up a momentum of readership,examining shows that are recently opened. If I take too long my hit-rate starts to go down, so I need to keep them coming. Sometimes I notice I am getting raggedy so I take a breather. But I can't do that too long. See my dilemma?

Note also how having other writers really helps all this. Great to get more opinions from other cities, but also more articles to feed into the pool for debate.

I would be delighted if people pointed out typos or errors to me directly through I will fix them asap.

Now with this comment making scenario I'm using here, I can't edit my text after I've posted it. If I really mess up I have to trash and repaste, or rewrite. Hopefully the new website will remedy such things.

All the above worry me. I am extremely pleased you brought them up. Please continue to do so if necessary.

tobias said...

John, just a quick reply to yours, if that's alright. I completely agree with most things you said, my full name is Tobias Kraus, by the way. I'm from Auckland. I couldn't agree more with your "full name" rule.

As far as the quality of writing was concerned, let me please repeat that I wasn't criticizing your review at all. My lines were aimed at another commentator. It is just a general issue for me when anyone expects quality in a body of work he/she is criticizing, while not being capable of delivering quality
in the few lines of criticism.

Keith W Clancy said...

Hi John

A very strange debate this as it seems, as is often the case, to revolve around what an artist "should have" done rather than what they have actually done.

I popped in again to see the show yesterday. I don't agree at all that there is a "lack in the enlarged images of the different matt and gloss sheens detectable in her older ‘proper’ painting." The enlarged works are not at all "consistently matt" as you say.

It depends on the lighting and your position relative to it but the white billboard fabric is clearly of a different reflectance than the printed parts.

For me it seems the photograph or scan has been manipulated so that the white paper or canvas support of the original smaller work has been allowed to become a pure white, possibly by increasing the contrast of the image, so the white is simply pure absence of pigment in the eventual printed image.

This can be clearly seen in the centre of the image that is suspended away from the wall in the back corner. There, the orange marks in the centre clearly are semi-glossy to the extent that by virtue of complementary contrast the white appears bluish against the clearly delineated streaks of orange.

I think these subtle differences are actually quite wonderful.

Were I to be critical of the show as a whole I would argue that the large works would be more successful in that particular space by being the only works there.

This is not because I believe there must be a consistency of approach or surface. If there are inconsistencies within the surface of a work why should there be consistency of surface between one work and the next.

For me personally the large works allow a different way of looking at the smaller works, encouraging the kind of "microperception" evoked by grossly enlarged prints of an obviously much smaller work.

I think Millar is using the very discrepancies and inconsistencies of approach noted by the comments and your review to get the viewer to examine the works in a different way.

I don't at all think that different elements in an installation need to have the same sort of surface. Who says? And if someone says why follow that?

Why hasn't anyone noticed that on the conventionally painted works the edge of the image is not the same as the edge of the object and that on the two large printed works the edge has been cropped by a violent cut that is not on the frontal plane but about halfway across the tacking margin of the stretcher. This discrepancy means the edge of the image is not consistent with the edge of the frontal plane and all the more interesting for it. From an angle you see the edge of the print and only later notice that the cropping is not aligned with the edge of the frontal plane as an object. This is extremely important to the effect of the work because they are not then simply comparable to the stretched canvas surface of the smaller works. Something else has happened.

My sole problem with the show is that the large prints are so interesting they make the smaller works look a little dull by comparison. Were there another small space in the gallery I would have had the conventional works as a separate installation, crowded and wall-like. I imagine a small room with all those "proper paintings" out the back with all the available walls taken up with them. Then the two large orange and black works would feel like freedom, opening, expansion. I like the two large works precisely because of this discrepancy of spatial feeling, The large one angled behind the column in particular feels like an opening out onto the street.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the work goes now and for that to be a genuine surprise it will be more interesting if we drop the idea of "consistency" or what "proper painting" is.



John Hurrell said...

These are interesting comments about the big works. You reckon I got it wrong and that I haven't spotted the tactile contrasts within the surfaces? You could be right.

Let's say (for the point of argument) that you are exactly correct. That the whoppers are not utterly flat in their surface qualities as I claimed.
Conventional painters would still drone on anyhow about Millar 'cheating', by not manipulating only paint but also using other methods.

In other words, they worship the means of making an image whereas she zeros in on the end result. It is the spatial impact she is after.
If she could make exactly the same thing using 'real' paint they would be kissing her feet.

My point about consistency is that artists need to consider how viewers interpret their labours. How are the different elements of a show read together as a cohesive statement? Rationality is embedded within the language that we use to communicate (structured deep within its core) and the same goes for experiencing and analysing exhibitions. Otherwise artists would just be jerking off, pleasuring only themselves. Nothing necessarily wrong with that in itself, but does anybody really want to come to a gallery to watch? What would a viewer get out of it if there is no interest in communication? Consistency is part of that.

Keith W Clancy said...

Yes certainly conventional painters could very easily say she is "cheating".

This would assume that Millar is using the printing process to produce something that could be otherwise obtained using her previous methods of working.

The concept of cheating implies a deceptive intention and I don't get this from the printed works. They are close-ups. They impose on us and on the space, whether we like it or not, a sense of "microperception" of the smallest accident or detail.

I even wonder whether the other works were produced and positioned thus in order to deflate them.

In this way the inconsistencies in effect and scale, colour and position produce the cohesion of the work itself, as if only by avoiding unity could it approach it anew, integrating even the lack of integration into a whole of some sort.

It's not true that she could make exactly the same thing using "real paint" because "real paint" would not behave that way, would not "disappear" in the way the printed image does on close inspection.

In other words for me the whole point of the big works is precisely that they are not possible except through technological mediation.

There is, for me, a strong conceptual linkage between technology and art. Technology does, without wanting to sound too much like the 1960's here, have a relation to art in the Greek sense of "techne".

What impressed me so much about those printed works was precisely their baroque sense of inflation, of exuberance writ large but in some sense failing as well.

I think in some ways inconsistency (and the questioning into what "inconsistency" is as different from simple "variety") is part of her work.

It is a formal means of expression for Millar to question the so-called "expressive" gesture. Producing the work mediated through printing, through an implicitly repeatable process, brings the time of the painting into a double register of enlarging the unrepeatable gesture in a completely repeatable way.

I don't at all think she zeroes in on the end result: there is a kind of emphasis on process by the work.

On the printed works the marks have by virtue of their scale and their clearly excessive physical affect have a strongly theatrical sense of schematisation. This is something that makes the mark (so obviously enlarged, complete with noise around the edges of the printed, reproduced mark) something other than its usual mark of authenticity.

I simply don't believe that the idea of "communication" is always appropriate for thinking about art.

I do have a problem with the conventional works in this show but it is not an issue of "communication": I am more interested in what art does than what it is meant to "say". I think the space would have been better used without them. I also imagined what those giraffe-bottle-gun shapes on aluminium would have looked like. I think the problem with the more conventional works in the show is their colour. I like her use of what she calls Guantanamo Bay orange. I miss it in the other works. But then I do not want to start telling her what to do.

I think one can overrate the value of rationality for installations. Sometimes the last thing I want from a work is communicability. What do Hamlet, No 14 in SFMOMA by Rothko or the Goldberg Variations "communicate"? Even if they do "communicate" something is that the reason for their greatness? I get worried if I am not puzzled and intrigued by a work of art.

Keith W Clancy said...

Part two . . .

I think this is a transitional show for her work as a whole. I am glad she seemed to believe in the intelligence of her audience that they would always relate this new show back to what they have previously seen. An artist does not just create individual works he or she makes "a work".

I think Millar's "inconsistency" is therefore a kind of conceptual material in her work that, by virtue of the variety of surface, becomes fused with both the painting (as a verb) and what we also still call a "painting" (as the end result of the former).

We should not forget too that I first saw the work in the form of photography which acts like your description of varnishing, as a kind of unifier of the surface. A photograph cannot always register matte surfaces. It acts somehow like varnish in a way.

I believe Millar is using scanning or other digital techniques to extend beyond what is physically possible. I think these are her best works that I have seen.

I looked hard to see whether I could find any fingerprints or indications of a hand. I would have liked to have seen some as this would have introduced a dissonance between the scale of the image and that of the hand. But in fact, if one knows anything about paint and brushes one would see that the point of the orange whoppers is precisely that they are impossible images.

John Hurrell said...

At the risk of being groaningly tiresome, the consistency issue comes up when one considers how the different elements resonate together. Are they a total installation, all pressuring the architectural space at once in a calculated fashion in order to subvert it, or is the show a sequence of paintings made separately over a period of time? We have at least two contradictory interpretations of the experience for the viewer to consider. Which one works best?

Keith W Clancy said...

So conceivably different things, entirely different things could well exist together and form a consistent installation despite their differences. I think what she is trying to do is forge a whole out of elements that resist that, that will not form a whole without remainder. I think she is attempting to reveal that dissonance. This is why I think the consistency idea is bad: its precisely the differences between the work that make the whole, not their similarity.

John Hurrell said...

No,no, it has to look planned to work. It must appear to be a calculated project, not ad hoc. Consistency perpetuates that sense, dissonance destroys it.

Keith W Clancy said...

I'd say the big works look planned, calculated. Hard for something like that to happen by accident.

I guess you wouldn't like dissonant music then. Music by say, Brian Ferneyhough or Luigi Nono (who I think was a big influence on Millar's Venice project), refuses resolution, allows dissonance to remain unresolved. I love it personally - its refusal of easy resolution is a mark of its confidence and strength and its trust in the listener.

Someone once said to me that a drip you leave is not the same as a drip you wipe away: Millar's practice appears to come directly from this kind of permitted transgression which is why for a lot of viewers her work is "inconsistent". I think, and yes I am being generous because I am interested in these sorts of questions as well, that her work always involves a kind of questioning of precisely this implicit requirement of consistency, calculation, sense, even the idea of "working".

I have always thought it was funny that no one uses the traditional assessment of the success of an artwork anymore (ie. "this is beautiful") but instead uses the vaguely proletarian-sounding rhetoric of "this works" as if it were not enough that an art work makes something appear, that the appearance itself has extra labour to perform beyond merely appearing.

I think Millar is putting this labour to the test, raising questions about the ideas of "finish", "success" or "achievement" by which she is being judged.

I think Millar is questioning this kind of "work-ethic" in her work: I suspect she is asking for precisely the kind of "she's cheating" or "this isn't painting" response she is getting in order to question the kinds of presuppositions that are being relied upon here.

It's funny how an installation of badly played musical instruments can be taken easily as an artwork, of the relational kind, but as soon as it comes to painting and the judgement passed upon it, the most traditional requirements come racing to the forefront.

Yes it is perhaps a case of wanting it both ways, having one's cake and eating it but for me that is something that is possible in art.

Art is one of the few areas where cognitive dissonance, contradiction and complexity, ambiguity and evasion are positive attributes: a chair in an artwork does not need to "work" in the sense of being adequate to the concept of "chair" in the same way that the chair on which I am sitting now does.

Paul Cullens chairs are precisely this kind of impossible object: I would argue that Millar's paintings or rather their printed reproduction work by bringing to the fore such paradoxes.

I prefer this ambitious failure to the kinds of installation that ultimately boil down to consistent logical propositions, those that are seen to "work".

Without ambiguity and the seduction of the tease I can't imagine anyone wanting to make or look at art at all anymore.

John Hurrell said...

We're at cross purposes here. I was talking about installation in the gallery, not paintings. In fact I have a long interest in aleatory artworks, visual and aural, but that's another conversation, as is Cullen. We don't want to digress on these threads. It just gets too chaotic to follow if writers jump around.

Keith W Clancy said...

I was just attempting to point out how the paintings themselves, within themselves, bear the same dissonance they bear amongst themselves as a whole, with and against the space, with and against the viewer who, after all, comes upon the space already constituted.

I am just taking off from your last comment where you said "it has to look planned to work. It must appear to be a calculated project, not ad hoc. Consistency perpetuates that sense, dissonance destroys it".

I just think that the work is planned, looks planned and that if it doesn't "look planned" it doesn't matter. The space as a whole is flooded with enough evidence of intentionality to make the question of whether or not it "looks planned" a bit empty really.

I think it "works" - it produces something otherwise unapparent.

So we are at cross purposes because I don't agree with the terms of your judgements?

I was in fact talking about the installation as a whole including the individual works and her work as a whole which is carried into the installation by the proper name.

Millar mentioned Luigi Nono in an interview about the Venice project so I think it's quite fine to bring up his name: you don;t think that there can be influences and lines of affiliation across art forms? One way art "communicates" to use your term, to the extent that it can at all, is by entering into relations with things and concepts, works and periods outside the terms set by the gallery or by the installation: there is nothing outside the installation because ultimately every work of art, every installation is in some sort of relation to every other, whether those relations are intentional or not. As soon as it gets called "art" it talks to every other work of art whether we hear the conversation or not and whether we join in or not.

John Hurrell said...

I take your point about 'communication'..let's say a certain sort of experiential sensation that the artist has focussed in some way. Interpretation is not utterly open, it has to fit into a detectable logic within the work itself, whilst paradoxically not depending on any declaration by the artist as to its meaning.

Keith W Clancy said...

Now I agree with you. I just think that it does, indeed, "work". I am surprised for once.

stephen said...

In the 2004 publication IS / NZ Judy Millar expresses a delight in the finest quality paint and says "It's even more pleasurable to buy the most expensive yellow and turn it brown" (p26)

Did she really? What elitist horseshit. Boo to her.

--stephen clover

John Hurrell said...

Who says artists have to be morally superior to the rest of our species, and who cares what Millar's motivations for her painting practice might be? Most art is motivated by trivial pleasures - that doesn't stop us from enjoying the final results.

stephen said...

that doesn't stop us from enjoying the final results

Speak for yourself. I never have enjoyed her work, and now that I find out that she's insufferably bourgeois I doubt that I ever will. Off with her head.

stephen said...

Tell you what, if you like: she can buy the most expensive yellow paint, and send it to me, and I'll send her some brown shit in return. That way everybody will be happy.

John Hurrell said...

What nonsense you talk Stephen, trying to take the high moral ground. All artists, if they can afford it, will try and acquire the best materials possible to use. And as for class - what are you? Not 'bourgeois'? I bet you are a university student. You don't sound like a factory labourer to me.

sean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tobias said...

Oh my goodness: the mere fact that someone needs to look up a quote from five years ago to form an opinion on artworks tells it all, really. I would love to find out what Stephen would be capable of turning out with some expensive yellow paint. However, "off with her head"? Is being plain nasty towards somebody who happened to have made it as an artist in this country okay? I beg to differ. Off with your head, Stephen! Seriously, get a life.

Tobias Kraus

Kim Finnarty said...

Tobias; I notice it wasnt Stephen Clover who initially posted the quote but what is the 'all it is telling'. That artists who say things in print should have their words excluded?
I take it from your attitude that you only judge artworks by their immediate effect and any supporting information is irrelavent.

Well good luck to you.

K. Finnarty

tobias said...

Alright, Kim, the ball's in your court: please explain to me in what way this quote relates to the qualities of the current exhibition pieces we are talking about? Or to older ones, if you like that better. I'm eager to learn, and you certainly made me curious now...

stephen said...

Oh my goodness, Tobias: what are you talking about? Do you even understand what I have written? Have you even been to university? John, has Tobias been to university?


stephen said...

I was at a dinner party tonight, you wouldn't believe it, they had the most incredible, prized, expensive Beluga caviar you can get. God knows how they can afford it. Anyway, I feel a bit naughty, but no one really ate it; I kinda just started throwing it around a bit and we all ended up having a food fight. Is that bad? I feel terrible... such a waste...


John Hurrell said...

Stephen, I think with your adolescent sarcasm you are trying to say that Millar's comment about deliberately 'wasting' paint makes her a poor artist. You seem to think that good artists must be nobly pious, community-minded, ethically responsible citizens. But those attributes usually have no relevance to a person's artmaking ability.

stephen said...

No John, with my adolescent sarcasm I am trying to say that her comment about deliberately wasting paint makes her elitist scum.

You seem to think that good artists must be nobly pious, community-minded, ethically responsible citizens.

No, I think citizens should be community-minded, ethically responsible citizens. "Artists" don't get a free pass on the basis of having slopped some paint around.

But those attributes usually have no relevance to a person's artmaking ability.

Indeed, the resultant "art" is sometimes earnest, didactic nonsense. But A!=B != !B=A.

John Hurrell said...

I don't think all your dogs are barking, Stephen. Apart from the blatant absurdity of using your own moral code to determine the aesthetic worth of artwork by a complete stranger, to call somebody 'scum' because you think their use of paint is immoral shows you've lost the plot. I mean can you place a monetary value on this 'wasteful' spending that you find so heinous, and which makes you so indignant and abusive? Is a $50 tube of paint wasteful? Perhaps $100, or even $200 - a can of it? What is your fiscal threshold of 'scum-worthy' paint waste?

The fact is you hate the work for other reasons that you are incapable of articulating, so in desperation you try to condemn her on moral grounds that are completely irrelevant.

stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephen said...

You're confusing my arguments. I'm in no way judging the aesthetic worth of Judy Millar's work by my moral standards. I've never liked her work. I don't hate it, it just disappointed me when I first saw it (10 years ago, more or less) and continues to do so to this day.

call somebody 'scum' because you think their use of paint is immoral shows you've lost the plot

Expressions like "elitist", "scum", "bourgeois", and "off with her head" are in this instance part of the vernacular, and as you very well know, entirely appropriate. This class-war stuff is complicated stuff, y'know.

I don't think all your dogs are barking

Nice. I like that. Can I use it? (Appropriately attributed, of course).

From your Raised By Wolves review:
And with more than a whiff of privilege. Take a look at Raised By Wolves' webpage here... ‘they have five university degrees between them.’

Looks like we both have issues with the privileged elite and the world of art.

Viva La Revolución

so you tell me said...

John Hurrell said...

This post is entirely unacceptable. It is bollocks to sentimentally worry about underdogs versus favourites, or to consider incidental knowledge you might have about an art critic's personality. The reader should be focussing on the issues set out in the writer's discussion of the exhibition, and how well the argument is presented. Thinking about the writer's personality is just as stupid as worrying about the artist. The writing, and the art it is examining, are outside all that stuff.

From Art,Life,TV, Etc.
"Smells like mean spirit"


I admire artists that are consistent

John Hurrell said...

Stephen,you are dreaming if you think calling an artist 'scum' could result in them thinking 'oh yes, that's entirely appropriate..'s only Marxist vernacular!'

Ever heard of the term 'Emotional Intelligence'?

stephen said...

John, I'll take your "whiff of privilege" and raise you an "elitist scum". What's the difference, really. At least I'm not hiding behind a lavender-scented codpiece.

Ever heard of the term 'Emotional Intelligence'

No. Shall I google it?

stephen said...'s only Marxist vernacular!'

Try reading it back in a Rik out of the Young Ones voice.

John Hurrell said...

Tao,I think you have an argument lurking around somewhere (courtesy of Cheryl) but you haven't stated it.

What are you trying to tell me about my comment?

Kim Finnarty said...

Tobias; I agree with the very first comment posting on this thread. That Millar's quote illustrates a desire to corrupt her materials. This has relevance here to the printed surfaces here and the shaping of the canvasses and the modification of the space; all can bee seen as corruptions of normal practice

I understand from 'Art World' magazine that Millar is now naming her abstracts with literal titles given by viewers; a further corruption of normal abstractionism.

Whatever you want to call her work, painting, printmaking, installation or deconstructive architecture, does not really matter, Judy doesn't care and the work is the cur's cods.

John Hurrell said...

Kim, what do you mean by 'cur's cods'? Love the sound of that. Perhaps I've had a sheltered mean something like 'dog's bollox' or 'the dingo's donger?' Judy's work is a hybrid mangle of types?