It's that time of year again, the point where I have had my annual visit to one of the London Galleries followed by a nice meal and then followed by an evening at the theatre. This year the theatre was Simon Callow doing for Shakespeare what he has previously done for Dickens, the meal was Lebanese and the gallery was, as last year, the Saatchi where the current exhibition is "The Shape of Things To Come: New Sculpture".
The exhibition is varied and interesting, though often pornographic (and vaguely disturbing) without being erotic. As with last year though it isn't the exhibition that's prompting my post - it's the exhibition guide.
I have reached the conclusion that the reason people don't like modern art has nothing to do with the art itself and everything to do with the specious claptrap of the critics.
Here then are some of the phrases from this years guide. Interpretation notes are provided.
"these identifiers change the viewers perspective and turn the room's vaguely prehistoric ambience into less numinous territory"
(the little paper crosses on top of the rocks stop them looking like rocks and make them less spiritual - that's what the words mean but surely the intent must have been the opposite)
"explore the boundaries of traditional figuration by embedding his subjects with otherworldly elements and recocneptualising how to represent the human figure in all its spatial, spiritual and psychological mmultiplicity"
(he makes stautues that look a bit like people but not really by using lots of things that people aren't actually made of)
"the crashed car is recycled from a subject of horror into a kind of metaphysical art"
(he bends cars into shapes that they couldn't ever have actually crashed into)
"sculptures which occupy a space between abstraction and representation"
"abstract deformation is turned into beauty"
(things that should be beautiful are made to look ugly)
"(the) large fuzzy masses look like rubble found at a building site"
( (the) large fuzzy masses look like rubble found at a building site)
"have a lifelike quality which makes their dirty and broken down facture all the more affecting"
(they are quite realistic but poorly made - again, this is what the words mean but seems to me to express the opposite of the actual intent.)
"create a bold new figure for the female nude"
(not very lifelike female nudes)
"explores the actualisation of pattern and the tension between the exquisite decorativeness ond DIY"
(looks a bit like home decoration but might be art)
"in contrast to pure conceptual forms of minimalism, present a messy aesthetic, both alluring and overtly ugly"
(not really minimalist but looks quite interesting if not very pretty)
"The Milky Way is a sprawling web of wood and neon tubes illustrating its title subject but withot pretending to be to scale, useful or even correct"
(A sculpture made out of neon lights that is called The Milky Way But isn't anything to do with it really.)
"composed of 119 found neon tubes... suggests a madness held in check but disconcertingly on the verge of being out of control"
(pretty but chaotic - possibly bonkers)
""they are charged with an alter-like quasi-shamanistic power"
(they look vaguely religious and are presented on plinths)
As I say, none of this should be taken as criticism of the art itself which, for the most part I found interesting and ocacasionally marvelous, but with descriptions like that is it any wonder that that the general public see it as being just so much pretentious nonsense?