Tuesday, 21 March 2017

the lights are on but no-one's home as flying saucers invade kentish town

(tags: eduard paolozzi, punk rock, the nipple erectors, jamie reid, sigmar polke, digital art collage photography class for people without a fucking ounce of creative vision who think photoshop will really improve that situation, dieter roth dieter roth dieter roth, danny breaks, xerox art print fuck-up, guerrilla girl loser)
RTomens, 2016
what/ YES/no/what? yes no/what/ YES/no/what/YES/no/now what/ WHAT NOW?
mad man outside Barclays bank in kentish town saying shit / shit I looked at in the secondhand shops / shit/shit/shit music shit books//so much shit I never thought had been made (i said it before elsewhere and have to say it again / depressing shit people buy & give away because even they're bored with the shit they buy (or have got it on mp3 or read it and of course it's not fucking worth reading again because it's shit!
and for some reason as I'm sat outside the Renoir cafe with The Scottish Artist & friend (who doesn't see the problem with parakeets, she says as she smokes three cigarettes in 15 minutes) loads of cars, trucks, lorries & buses (or traffic, as it's known) come up (and down, depending which way you're facing, although Kentish Town Road does slope up (if you're heading North, or down if you're heading South)) with their lights on, some with just sidelights, but lots with lights on - so we notice and comment and it gets weird because every other fucking vehicle has either main or side lights on even though the sun's out virtually all the time and The Scottish Artist says 'it's like...er...day of the triffids' - what the fuck is he on? we sit drinking coffee spotting vehicles with lights on for a couple of minutes until the novelty wears off
and that's probabl;y what it'll be like when (not if) aliens arrive flying over K Town in their 50s B-Movie saucers - everyone pointing & talking & freeked out until they don't go away, just keep flying overhead & we get bored & carry on shopping, drinking coffee or searching for good stuff amongst all the shit people have given to charity shops
fuck
it





Monday, 20 March 2017

The American Dream: pop to the present at The British Museum


Since print superseded painting as the premier medium for visual art in galleries (what do you mean "Has it?" Yes, it has) it's fitting that the British Museum should put on a wham bam show called The American Dream: pop to the present.  So people are still catching up to the fact that print is 'it' - they're always catching up. I'm always trying to catch up with myself and never succeeding. Here's a snap... 


America's not the 'superpower' of art or printing (it had it's painting day in the 50s, didn't it?) but you wouldn't expect an inherently conservative institution like the BM to put on a major exhibition of 20th century Swedish prints, would you? Thankfully, no one country dominates today, partly due to the fact of this internet thing and the democratisation it created, as in anyone being able to see art from anywhere and even post their own for the world to ignore. Here's another snap...


As usual it's 'illegal' to take photos at the show; something to do with 'intellectual property', which is ironic considering that prints were/are, in theory, a way of making artworks that can be easily distributed and more affordable. But, yes, history dictates that should you want to buy any of these you'd need to be well-off. So you're supposed to buy the accompanying book instead.

It's fitting that Warhol's Marilyns are in the first room, Pop Art being the vulgar, commercial, popular thing that it was, by which I mean the movement that seemed to grab the public's attention and hold it ever since by exploiting Mr & Mrs People's predilection for garish colours and easily recognisable subjects. Warhol's work is not garish, though and it may surprise some to realise how beautiful and different the screen prints are in real life as opposed to the endless images in books. But vying for attention is James Rosenquist's F-111, a monumental strip of panels that perfectly encapsulate Pop, combing as they do those zingy colours and contrasting elements of the Political and everyday Domestic. An epic work....(this photo is not from the show)...



Around the corner is 1 Cent Life by Walasse Ting (oh but do look up to the ceiling for Claes Oldenburg's Giant Three-Way Plug, which I'm sure many didn't notice). Ting's book looks amazing and they showcase a few pages which contain his equally brilliant poetry...



...there's an excellent feature on the book here.


A couple of pieces by Robert Longo which gain in stature when actually seen as original prints...being life-size...


...superb prints by Robert Motherwell (the first two)...


...a beautiful piece by Helen Frankenthaler called Savage Breeze...


...this is an eye-popping, exhaustive/exhausting show that's worth every penny. I haven't mentioned many of the big names featured but Jim Dine's pieces are great (studies of paintbrushes and tools) and of course Ed Ruscha's Standard Station which really must be seen to be fully appreciated...so good, so sumptuous...so seductive you want to lick it. Finally, I can't talk about prints without plugging my own, three of which are on show at the Tunnel collective's Waterstones show until April 12th. Lots of great paintings are featured too. TTFN




Monday, 13 March 2017

Under The Spell Of Authority



RTomens, 2017

Creative man does not entertain or shock the bourgeoisie. He destroys them!
- Black Mask, 1967

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Concrete Poetry Exhibition: INTEGRATION ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH



I went down to the Richard Saltoun gallery on Great Titchfield street and got a little lost which meant I passed the legendary Crown & Sceptre pub - "Why is it legendary, Robin?" - well, since you ask, when we lived opposite on Langham Street in a basement flat to which we once returned with looting booty after the Poll Tax riot of 1990 (oh happy days) a drunk used to sit on the doorstep saying "Crown and Sceptre" repeatedly, in a very drunken voice - so it became our mantra too. Now you know. Meanwhile, here's one star of the concrete poetry exhibition, Integration Alone Is Not Enough; a piece by Peter Green called An Oise Matin Poem (1964-65)...


...imagine that in your home. There's an eyeball that you place on top and it finally rolls out into a drawer. When it went missing on the opening night it was presumed stolen but was in fact stuck in the construction. When I asked where it was the woman said they were keeping it aside 'Just in case' - pah!


Whether it really qualifies as 'concrete poetry' I'll leave you to decide but it is a very impressive construction...


My favourite piece of the show, though, was this by Bob Cobbing...


...it's called Are Your Children Safe? In The Sea?


You can see why I loved it so...


Here's another piece by Cobbing called Bill Jubobe and Two Untitled Duplicator Prints (1975)


  


Cobbing again, Beethoven Today (1970)...


...you get me? 'Course you do. What's not to get about Bob Cobbing? Yet, as I was saying to LJ last night when she asked if there was some kind of concrete poetry revival going on, it's not regarded as 'art', so most galleries won't show it. Art snobs and other idiots have little regard for the art of concrete poetry or vispo - "What's the difference, Robin?" - well, since you ask, people have squabbled over that for years. I have my own definition, which goes something like this: concrete is more formal, austere, clean...whilst vispo is freer and can incorporate elements of collage or whatever. That's just what I decided...yesterday. Truth is that the terms are interchangeable. I think.


It's a good little exhibition. As you'll have guessed, Cobbing stole the show for me but here's another piece I liked by Henri Chopin called L'escalade (1970). Surprisingly, it predates some of my work but I swear I'd never seen it before. Honest guv...


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Comic Strip Collage: Capitalist Dogs!


RTomens, 2017

GR Swenson: Is Pop death?
Robert Indiana: Yes, death to smuggery and the Preconceived-Notion-of-What-Art-Is diehards.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Where's The Toilet? Art vs The Call of Nature




On guard duty (in case anyone tries to nick a pen) at the new Tunnel collective show at Waterstones Gallery yesterday it soon became clear that more people are concerned about the call of nature rather than art. When you've got to go you've got to go, right? The gallery happens to be near the toilets, which aren't clearly signposted and so we watched as people wandered in and looked around, not at the spectacular, diverse array of great art on the walls, but for those bloody toilets! It was amusing, the first few times...

...then it got a bit annoying. Why aren't they even pausing when they realise they're in rooms full of art?! The bastards! But nature is calling. Their bladders or (let's be honest and biologically correct) bowels are bursting! So I think about it...

...why should anyone be interested in art, even when it's staring them in the face, the real thing, not photos of art or thumbnails or pictures online...actual 'in the flesh' art? Those of us who are into art find the total refusal to engage with it mystifying, but one could say the same about great music, film or literature. What makes one person ignore, say, a Hitchcock masterpiece, or a Charlie Parker recording? Is it that thing we call 'taste'? I suppose so, yet that one word hardly covers the complexities involved when really analysing cultural preferences...

...education, class, the media, upbringing...aren't they all factors in deciding taste? Is taste related to that other mystery, talent? Why does one child gravitate towards playing the piano or making art whilst others don't? I'm leaving that can of worms firmly closed for now...

...meanwhile, in a London gallery, people are wandering in, peering into the rooms in search of what they really want to see, the sign that says 'Toilets'. The walls may as well be blank as far as they're concerned. They have a 'blind spot' when it comes to art...

...yet, I wondered, if those were Hockneys hanging there, would they be more interested? We know there are 'marquee' names in the art world and he's one of them. The Tate Britain show is doing a roaring trade. It would be an interesting experiment to replace our art with copies of his and watch to see if any one of the toilet-seekers were distracted from their pressing need by the site of work by a famous artist...

...a secret show would be an interesting experiment. Hang original Hockneys somewhere (a place where the public would go for other reasons) but don't advertise it. The problem with that is that the media would get wind of it and direct people to it...

...it's all about advertising, in that respect, even when a big name artist is concerned. The media will naturally advertise an event featuring someone famous. In newspapers or on TV, they're concerned about what they think their readers/viewers will like and have little desire to promote unknowns. So the 'loop' is perpetuated: promote what we know people know, just as we're told what we 'may be interested in' all the time online, the continual feedback loop in the name of product promotion rather than cultural curiosity...

...as with anything us 'unknowns' try to promote online, we know it's more than an uphill struggle to gain attention, it's more like climbing up a mountain...on bare knees...with a boulder on your back...and a giant rubber band tied down at ground level and wrapped around your waste...something like that...

...ultimately...it's only art! It's just images people made and hung on walls! So what? Where's the bloody toilet?! (muttered in several languages under breaths). I'm certainly not one to be precious about art-making in the old-fashioned 'I tore this from my soul' manner of the romantic 'tortured artist' myth and don't know anyone who is. Billie Holiday was just a singer, Godard just made films and William Burroughs didn't even write proper novels..

...people do blather on about how crucial creativity is to the very soul of the planet (whilst staring reverentially at a Van Gogh). Regarding art in schools, those inclined towards the ideal of culture's importance in society say it's essential. The world's accountants know better, of course. The corporate career hive mind of sensible advancement in this materialistic world knows better. It knows that studying the arts with a view being a filmmaker/author/artist will probably get you nowhere and where you really to want to get to is a place in corporate culture. Your ideal then: a position in a corporate company in the Culture Industry...

...guess who's coming to dinner? An artist! Your daughter's in love with one. Unfortunately, he's totally unknown and therefore doesn't make much money. You're all for art, but when your daughter's material future is concerned...

...so perhaps art is important, in theory, but from my experience yesterday, it's not as important for the majority of visitors to Waterstones as finding that bloody toilet...


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Vispoets At Work



How Vispoets work...here we see the transformation of the material into the virtual/image...wherein fictitious cartoon characters represent the 'real' and the image the 'unreal', thus merging reality and unreality as if to inhabit the unreal yet create something 'real' from it...

Monday, 27 February 2017

Vispo: Safe

RTomens, 2017
Vispo created from a photo I took, possibly whilst waiting on the platform at Finsbury Park train station, although I can't be sure...better to be safe than sorry, they say...except in art...I say...