Tag Archives: Italy

TOP TEN THINGS TO SEE AT THE VENICE BIENNALE 2015

5 May

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PPBorborygmusArtCriticBY GUEST CRITIC PP BORBORYGMUS, CONTEMPORARY ART CORRESPONDENT AT LARGE FOR TEMPORARY CON ART MAGAZINE

1. THE FRIEZE PARTY

It’s fabulous because hardly anybody can get in, so no riff-raff will be there to see you trash the place and talk shit about the person you’ll then turn right around to, air kiss and and be all smiles with. You’ll see lots of peons outside, though, trying to blag their way in as you sail through like an oligarch’s yacht (see No. 2) deliberately ramming a Mediterranean immigrant raft. That’ll show them who’s important and who isn’t. Matthew Slotover is a darling and almost never strangles people then stuffs them into weighted suitcases to dump into the lagoon from the back of a water taxi in the middle of the night a bit like that chap in American Psycho. Don’t forget to appreciate his tasteful business card and you should be fine.

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Matthew Slotover rarely does this.

2. PARTY ON AN OLIGARCH’S YACHT

It’s fabulous because everybody is incredibly rich. There are always a few yachts docked beside or crashed into the front walls of Venice’s historic palazzi. Oili Massovoye-Ubiystvic’s über-yacht is the crème de la crème; it’s forty storeys high, matte black, armed with mortars supplied by Poju Zabludowicz, and it has its own designer brig section for permanently imprisoning Middle Eastern refugee women who’ve been sold into sexual slavery. If you ever wondered about Venice parties having so many bevies of dazed, dopey, dusky twenty-two year olds in couture dresses, wonder no more. And the answers are yes, they come from O M-U’s sex brig; don’t worry, they probably won’t remember much because of the rohypnol; maybe, but don’t touch what you can’t afford because breakages must be paid for; no, the dresses don’t belong to them.

3. PARTY BY ONE OF THE COUNTRIES WHO HAD A BIG ENOUGH EMPIRE TO BE IN THE GIARDINI

Get there reasonably early because sometimes they’re a bit stingy with the free nibbles and drinkies. Something to do with tax payers’ money? You might be surprised how many tax payers you actually know, so just get as much down you as possible and politely pass over the tricky subject of who pays for all this stuff. Grab a whole bottle from a passing tray if you can. On the plus side you can probably tick off a lot of these little ones in very quick succession, so they work as a delightful if sometimes unpleasantly democratic pre-party for the main attraction which is obviously the Frieze party, oligarch yacht hopping, Lady Gaga’s party (see No. 4), or preferably all three.

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ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE: DIRECTRIXES

24 Apr

ArtBTheatreTitleMore dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism every week, except when I don’t do them every week. This time: a flurry of neologisms that aren’t helping, and a lengthy explanation of the internal layout in a building over 99% of us will never see. Art criticism in a nutshell, basically. The exhibition was in Milan.

Play along with Artbollocks Bingo!

The traits of manifold colours which the artist creates by spreading acrylic colour with a brush, no longer using aerosol sprays as he did with the works produced in previous years, emerge from their grounds following vertical and horizontal directrixes and extend beyond their own physical limit in order to break the closed and defined limit of the canvas.

Artist is so magic! He creates “manifold colours” (there are lots of colours) and he spreads “acrylic colour with a brush” (a miracle never before conceived of or enacted by human mind or hand). These colours “emerge from their grounds” (we can see them… I don’t think it means they’ve been hiding in the garden of their mansion), they follow “vertical and horizontal directrixes” (they go in different directions) and they “break the closed and defined limit of the canvas” (he colours over the edges). Oh, and look out everyone! We’re in the presence of yet another artist who is breaking the physical laws of matter and the universe because his art is so powerful. Contemporary art is getting to be a serious international safety concern. The UN needs to immediately send some inspectors and get a grip on the growing threat of artistic attacks on basic physical principles, otherwise sooner or later one of these reality-shattering quantum-artist-gods is going to rip a catastrophic hole in the spacetime continuum just by doing a painting of some lines or meaningfully piling up a bunch of old crap they got from a charity shop.

2013-10-04-BathroomImageI must now address the elephant in the room: “directrixes”. The text is written in reasonably good English, at least grammatically speaking. The content is utterly redundant, pretentious and stupid, but one’s sense that the writer has an understanding of the language in which they are writing is relatively OK. “Directrixes” is not OK unless you’re talking about mathematics. A directrix is a line, perpendicular to the axis of symmetry, used in the definition of a parabola. A parabola is the locus of points such that the distance to the focus equals the distance to the directrix (i.e. a line not through the focus.) You may well find this explanation as baffling as any art text, in which case the following will suffice: writing “directrixes” when you mean “lines on a painting” is total bullshit. Continue reading

THE ORA… THE ORA…

27 Feb

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Ten international galleries want you, like a vampire bat wants sleeping cattle. Premio Ora (“Premium Hours”) says that the “basic registration fee required as partial coverage for organizational expenses” is €60 to enter three art works for consideration. Poor things, only covering their organisational expenses partially. Each additional image after the first three is only €5 and luckily for them you, it’s possible to enter an unlimited number of works.

Yes, it’s another sketchy “opportunity” for artists to enter a competition where they pay for the remote opportunity of possibly getting an unpaid gallery show, i.e. something that an artist should usually be paid for, or at the very least should not have to pay for in order to be considered. I’m providing links here for the purpose of verification; I wouldn’t suggest visiting any of them unless you want to know which international galleries are involved in this farrago and I would therefore recommend in the strongest possible terms that you don’t ever have any dealings with whatsoever.

A bona fide artist who is having an exhibition at an art gallery is not a “winner” and does not pay all the costs of transporting and exhibiting their work. Any artist who does so is a customer, and they should have their service– i.e. in this case their work shown in the gallery for two weeks– provided to them without quibbles and without all this pretence of meritocratic selection or curatorial oversight. Continue reading

“GALLIZIO PRODUCES PAINTING BY THE METER”

9 Feb
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Pinot Gallizio cutting and selling a scroll of industrial paintings by the meter. Inauguration of ‘Industrille Malerei’ show at Van de Loo Gallery, Munich, April 1959.

Giuseppe (Pinot) Gallizio (1904-1964) worked for most of his life as a pharmacist in Turin. Like many people (including me) who come late or by an otherwise circuitous route to the art world, many of its practices and assumptions struck him as utterly absurd; even more so as he began to participate in them. Gallizio was a founding member of the International Situationists (society of the spectacle masking the degrading effects of capitalism, Guy Debord, the 1968 French uprisings, détournement, dérives, etc: it’s far too large a subject to cover in a single blog post…) and in his art works he tried to cultivate a sense of play and creativity in the face of the capitalist imperative to recuperate, neutralise, and monetise even something as indefinable as art.

One of his projects was industrial paintings, abstract works on scrolls that were designed to be sold and cut on the spot like any other commodity, such as the original blank canvas it was painted on.  The paintings themselves aren’t actually very good or interesting, but that isn’t the point of them. He was making fun of the idea of art as a unique object or a finite resource; judging by the photos on the left, he was having a lot of fun doing it too. What a suave gent. I have to admit that on a few occasions I’ve rocked this bushy moustache and bow tie look at art openings. There’s a post on Yves Klein coming up soon; he favoured similar outfits as well and he also always looks like he’s having a great time in all the photos of him I’ve seen. I’m definitely going to apply myself to perfecting the late 50s/early 60s Continental look now. Like Klein, Gallizio was ahead of his time with his thinking on capitalism, commodification and intellectual property in the art world and in Western society in general.

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BAD ART IS ETERNAL, ONLY THE MEDIUM CHANGES

25 Jul

The Tempest, c. 1507 by Giorgione (Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco).

Although I often have a go at contemporary art– and a lot of it is absolute bullshit because the artists who make it have less self-awareness and intelligence than your average contestant on Britain’s Got Talent– I also don’t have much sympathy for the view that proper art is old art, proper art is figurative art, proper art is something that looks pretty hanging on the wall. Just because a painting is old that doesn’t mean it’s good. Loads of bad art works are still around and they probably shouldn’t be, many good ones have been lost. I’ve seen the actual painting reproduced above; it’s quite small, and it hangs in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Venice. Yes, I know, wankorama, in the last post I was casually dropping it in that I saw this and that in Tokyo, now Venice…

Various art critics and academics have had a stab at unravelling what Giorgione was trying to say with this painting. It used to be referred to as a picture of Mercury and Isis, even though these two mythological characters don’t even come from the same cosmologies as each other. It’s been spoken of as an allegory of charity, death and other things that you’re fairly safe in speculating that a 16th century painting’s about. I think I can slice right through this particular Gordian knot and explain all instantly. The painting is not enigmatic. Superficially it’s well done and everything, but this painting is total shit. Continue reading

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