Thursday, 31 May 2012

A letter to David Hockney

Dear Mr Hockney,
It was a real pleasure to see your latest work 'A Bigger Picture' at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. The building can be intimidating for anyone, however the sheer volume and the vibrancy of your paintings leaves the environment on the back foot for a change.
Having lived in the English countryside, your work came as a bit of a surprise, since for the majority of the year the only colour you get to see is green in its infinite variety, lost in rainy dank and dark conditions and grey skies,  yet even your views of winter bring the colours to life in contrast to the reality. Perhaps for a month or two in the summer and autumn the light is enough to get close to the colours of your landscapes. That is perhaps the beauty of looking at the view through the eyes of an artist's imagination, as in this case.
 The Grand Canyon is also painted in vivid colours and once again, having seen the spectacular canyon, the vibrant paintings are a shock for the eyes. Perhaps as the sun sets over the canyon the bright reds emerge, but generally the landscape is more physical than colourful.
On another topic you should be congratulated on your work with the IPad tablet, as I am sure its not easy to control the composition in colour as well as you have achieved. Apple should be paying you for the service you have provided in displaying the virtues of using their hardware and the associated painting application.
Also impressive is the sheer volume of your work on display, considering that each of the larger works are madeup of a matrix of normal canvasses, there must be several hundred elements in the exhibition. I wonder what the whole exhibition is insured for; a wild guess would be in excess of a billion pounds..
No matter what anyone says, it has been a real pleasure seeing the exhibition, and we look forward to what you might delight us with in future..
Yours sincerely

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Winning and Losing

Imagine yourself at the last football game of the season for my local team 'Laredo'. They are currently in the 4th Division. They are very well placed near the top of the table and a win will take them into the 3rd Division. I know this may be a bit dull for those who do not have a taste for football, but it gets better and takes us to a wider view of the 'crisis' mentality.

Laredo is winning 1-0 and its looking good for a promotion, the end of the game approaches and the crowd is in a good mood eagerly waiting for the final whistle. The referee adds on some extra time for time lost during the game for injuries etc. the crowd begins to whistle and shout as this 'extra' time grows to 5 minutes. Still no end..10 minutes added..something is wrong, the ref has gone to sleep? He is not looking at his watch?..the visiting team suddenly score a goal..the score is level..Laredo have lost the promotion..the ref now blows his whistle signalling the end of the game. The crowd is indignant and want to lynch the referee..rightly so.

What went wrong? Rumour has it that the Laredo management reached an agreement with the referee that he would ensure that Laredo do not hook or by crook. Why? It turns out that in the higher division the team has to do a lot more travel and there are no funds available and no sponsors who are willing to provide resources for the team. So its best if the team remains in the current division!

What a defeatist attitude..nobody bothered to tell the players? I am sure if they had been promoted someone might have been willing to provide sponsorship..

Just as I thought that this was bad, the very next evening the Spanish entry into the Eurovision song contest, which was widely expected to win, came tenth. Not as bad as Englebert Humperdink who managed just 'un point' on the evening and was very close to being last.

Apparently the authorities took a collective sigh of relief, because had Paloma won the contest, it would have meant that they would have had to look for several millions of Euros to make the arrangements for the event next year..specially as the facilities for the event in Baku, Azerbaijan so fabulous.

And as everyone knows Spain is going through an economic crisis. Perhaps its wise to lose to live to win another day. I don't buy it!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Virtual Travel

In a week that has seen a multitude of invitations from all corners of the world, I have decided that the best course of travel is virtual. It is a bit of the same thought process that went through the previous post about Art Collection...that is, if its in your mind then it must be as good as..or the next best thing.
First there was the invite for the Frieze New York, which together with its satellite events would be worth a visit considering the Frieze events we have been to in London. Then came an invite from our London Biennale artists friends to go to the inauguration of the London Biennale events in London this year. More recently an ex colleague who moves from Poland to Mumbai via London asked me to join her in London for a drink! and if that was not enough another ex colleague in Shanghai asked if we would be coming to China anytime soon, so that we could get together. With prospects of a holiday in Mallorca, or a 100 Km hike down the Camino de Santiago also on the cards you can see where virtual might hold its charms.
By this time I was feeling a bit worn out already..
Since we do have a few commitments locally, I am afraid that its going to be an exercise in imagination. Now I would give anything to sit in a street cafe in Cairo or Istanbul watching the world go by or kids flying kites or whatever you are supposed to do in such establishments, or indeed get as far up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (its reputed height makes me dizzy just thinking about it) to get a spectacular view of the desert and the sea, and to feel the scary significant movement that by my calculation the Sheikh must feel in his imaginary apartments atop the building, however I must resist the temptation and wait for a suitable opportunity...ugh that dreadful phrase 'a suitable opportunity'.
Now I do have the time and could save up the money to do all these things, but with the weather improving in Northern Spain, and no urgency on taking on this travel all at once, I would happily join you in an imaginary world and drink a toast to your health and/or have a drink/coffee in the cyber bar/cafe of your choosing!!
Best wishes to all and Sat Sri Akal.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Collecting Art

This is a sore topic specially if you are an artist in most parts of the world. Usually you have to invent increasingly devious methods to tempt people to buy and collect art. A gallery owner in Santander told me that in its home city there were hardly any buyers. He had at most six or eight regular buyers, and that to survive he had to travel far and wide mostly to other countries to engage artists and organisations in projects which kept his gallery afloat.
Increasingly its becoming fashionable to hold discussions with art critics and curators and the odd collector to change views and to try and create an atmosphere where art collection might hold some attraction. In Spain specially where people rarely entertain at home, its more usual for people to buy a nice car than to buy art works to decorate one´s home.
It is no wonder that for virtually 99 percent of artists its impossible to live off their art output.
So it came as a welcome change to hear that the Christie´s auction yesterday sold Munch's famous painting (one of a set of four in existence) called The Scream for a world record sum of 120 Million Dollars.
Nice acquisition for someone although I have to say the painting does not excite me in any way and I would have found more useful ways of spending the large sum of money, but I guess that the buyer would probably not display it and have it under lock and key to sell it someday for a much bigger sum.
You might recall that a few years ago another version of The Scream owned by a museum in Norway or Holland was stolen for a time. Rumour has it that while the painting was missing its place on the museum's wall was left empty with a notice that the space belonged to the missing painting. Even so the number of visitors who queued to see the notice and the space of the missing painting were considerably more than when the painting had been in the museum. Interesting how us humans react to different happenings. Does a famous painting ever have to be seen to be enjoyed? We have in our brains a mental image of the painting and we just have to close our eyes and see it whenever we want. 
With this idea I once created a small space at an art event in London, and named it 'Imagenary Museum'. The word Imagenary was intentional distortion of 'Imaginary' since the concept involved the above mentioned Image. The small room had two small cards on the wall. One said 'Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci on loan to the Louvre in Paris' and the other 'Guernica by Pablo Picasso on loan to the Reina Sofia in Madrid'. I asked many of the visitors to the exhibit what they thought, and usually they volunteered that they thought it was a joke.
I then asked if they actually had visualised the painting when confronted with the contents of the cards, and each and every one said 'yes'. There and then the penny dropped and they left with smiles on their faces, much to my satisfaction. Of course I could not sell my work and would have had an equally difficult time trying to live off those kind of ideas!
For me, the real fun is to see what we cannot imagine, through the eyes of an artist that no one has heard of, who thinks of a fresh way to show us something that moves us.
I would much rather buy an art work that comes with a story attached that I can enjoy by buying it and having it at home with me. In this world where the art market is controlled by a few Galleries and 'Collectors' the real gems are to be found in the art fairs at smaller venues, which need to be nurtured for reasons other than investment and financial gain.