Editorial – September 2016

Pictures of Nothing and Very Like

John Moores Exhibition 2016

Most of Europe’s countries are either bankrupt or in economic

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meltdown, their infrastructure crumbling and public services reduced; the Middle East and Levant are in post-apocalyptic ruin, in part the google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; result of lies told in our own Parliament; an //--> exodus of desperate humanity is seeking refuge from a criminal death-cult; src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> innocents are being slaughtered in streets all over google_ad_height = 90; Europe by brainwashed loonies; across the globe are

pockets of strategically induced and entirely avoidable famine; infant mortality in parts of Africa is at worse levels
than in Georgian Britain;
meanwhile, at home we have thousands of steelworkers needlessly losing their jobs; pension pots of the poorest being robbed wholesale by bloated ocean-going bellies; armies of formerly skilled artisans reduced to wearing

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hairnets in order to package fatty swill fuelling an obesity epidemic; we have a political
élite who are out of touch with what voters think and who award themselves large pay increases and eyewatering expenses and property perks; we are returning to
the bad old days of increasing numbers sleeping rough on the streets; we have an education system – 13 years of free, full-time tuition – which is the envy of the Third World but at the

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end of which a large proportion of our children still can’t read, write or speak their own language properly; pension companies and fat cats steal our money and get away with it, their bosses paying themselves 130 times
what their average

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worker earns; we
stand watching powerlessly

as an age of repellent

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inequality in finance, housing and opportunity runs out of control; a //--> materially obsessed populace google_ad_height = 90; is //--> beset by mass addictions to
alcohol, shopping and virtual reality; our highly educated young adults, already burdened with colossal debts before they’ve done a day’s work, can’t find anywhere decent, affordable or secure to live, public housing for some irrational reason having been killed off; we have profitable companies who employ a disgraceful but fashionable new form of exploitation called ‘internship’, slavery by any other name; and many adults can’t even afford to live

on their minimum wages because of engineered restrictions placed on the hours src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> they are allowed to work.

If ever there were importunate subjects and narratives for visual artists to address surely it is now. But where are the Hogarths, Herkomers,

Fildes, Greens, Dorés, Millais’, Bretons, Bastien-Lepages, L’Hermittes, Holls, Caton-Woodvilles, Sickerts, Dixes, Groszs and google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Kitchen-Sinkers of today? Of all the

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places they really ought to be, they are not to be found in Liverpool. As far as the latest
John Moores (Walker Art Gallery until November

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27th) is concerned the world outside might as well /* xin-1 */ not exist.

What then are the

painters in this exhibition up to? With

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the exception of three of the 54 works (selected from 2,500 entries)
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they are concerned with aspects of painting itself. They seem exclusively devoted to navel-gazing irrelevance, and in some instances even seem deranged by it. Encouraged by post-modernism, coercive institutions, weak museums and
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the debased state of art education, they have been reduced to paranoia to the extent of painting pictures of nothing. And so inadequately limited has been their expensive further education that even if they wanted to they own no means of communicating to others.

All the painters in the John Moores can come up with is variants of the following drivel, and I quote google_ad_width = 970; from the catalogue:

 

“My paintings are visual fictions with concrete reality.”

“I shift from one painting to another, experimenting playfully with mark making.”

“My practice is to construct paintings that fix colour and form in various, tense economies.”

“As

you don’t teach people to look beyond themselves and the insularity of Serota’s

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frightened and petrified art world. It’s also what you get if you
allow an important prize to be kidnapped by an intolerant doctrine like State Art.

May I suggest that in 2018 the prejudging of the John Moores be conducted exclusively online by a programme which automatically eliminates entrants using any of the following words; ‘exploring’, ‘exploiting’, ‘challenging’, ‘testing’, ‘examining’,

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experimenting’ – and especially if these precede ‘notions’, ‘practices’, ‘aspects’ or ‘theories’. No accomplished artist google_ad_width = 970; ever used any of these descriptions because genuine artistic intelligence precludes such nonsense.

An extraordinary paradox in recent art, including the paintings

featured in the current John Moores, is that the Left staunchly defends allegedly ‘progressive’ artists who paint nothing comprehensible or
recognisable. As art has travelled further away from appreciation by the masses (a phenomenon first noticed by a troubled William Coldstream in the mid-1930s), so the Left has supported more avidly art’s increased exclusiveness. Don’t you find that odd? 

David Lee
The Jackdaw Sept/Oct 2017