Thursday, 5 July 2012

JDA: Glasgow School of Art Degree Show

GSA is short for Glasgow School of Art, similar to the way that JDA is short for my name. There are other similarities between the two institutions. Both of us are cool.

I recently went to the GSA degree show to see its Degrees show. The Dungarees show is a show where GSA tells everyone how cool GSA is by being really cool and having loads of art everywhere. I am also really cool and have art everywhere so I felt immediately at home upon getting to their nice little house. Despite my many emails I failed to contact GSA herself. DJR was also busy so I was forced to walk around the Dang-my-knee show myself.

There was a really fun interactive piece called “Please no photos” where no one could take any photos. Unfortunately the labelling was unclear but I have email Mrs GSA about who did it and hopefully he will be back in touch soon.

There were only three other bits of art but they were all collaborative and really big. This is probably a Good Time to point out that the main porpoise of this blog post is to help people who want to get in to GSA in 2K13 so they can be cool too.

  1. If you are painting for Dr. GSA here are some tips from the painting they have at 2k12
    1. make sure you are not trying too much as trying isn’t cool and it is very important to be cool
    2. messiness is very important to show how visceral you are. Glasgow is very messy and your paintings should reflect this. Make sure you are clear about why you have chosen messiness as a Lifestyle.
    3. Remember to talk about things like Urban Decay. Urban Decay is where cities that were new aren’t new and some people do things like drink that funny strong smelling liquid and sit in alleys and sometimes windows get broken. Urban Decay is V. Cool.
    4. Animals are inherently ironic. If you can draw a fox badly you can probably get in to GSA. I have drawn a picture of a Fox. Unfortunately I am too good at drawing so I am not allowed to talk to Mr GSA
    5. If you are not funny enough to paint animals you could paint some people. If you are going to paint make they are are either naked or famous as these are the two most important types of people.
  2. If you are not painting than here is some tips for doing stuff that is not painting
    1. make sure you are not trying too much as trying isn’t cool and it is very important to be cool
    2. for inspiration go to popular youth shop Urban Outfitters.
    3. It is important to make art that is authentic. Urban Outfitters is the best place to get books that will explain to you about how to be authentic
    4. Make sure you research authenticity properly otherwise no one will buy what you have made and then you will be sad
    5. Mostly authenticity is about nice fonts and exposed brickwork. Letting people see you have used big metal bolts to join things together is good too.
    6. Popular Youth Product headphones is a great way to let people listen to things. Art is about listening as well as looking thanks to Popular Youth Movement.
    7. Primary colours are ironic because they are happy and no one who is cool is happy and everyone at GSA is cool.
  3. If you are a sculptor like what DJR is here is what to do to be at GSA 2K13
    1. I don’t really know how to tell you this but what seems to be cool to do if you are a sculptor is to make big plaster casts of people being naked with lions and things. I don’t know if this was Ironic but the sculptures seemed very retro in their vibe. They had a nice worn authentic feel.

Thank you for your time that is all the Art I have an opinion on for now. I would also like to confess that I went at the end of the week. One of the main things Professor GSA likes a lot is transience. There was still a lot of transience when I went at the end of the week. Presumably however there was a lot more at the start of the week.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The guide for the unsuccessful art student (part 1)

You just finished your fine art degree, but no one cares. No mentions in the press, no prizes, no gallery offers, no residencies, no sales, no job, no internships, no way to store your degree show piece, no peer recognition, no street cred, no good hair cut, no trendy trousers, no one-night stand after the degree show opening.
Your artist statement said your work ‘will divide opinions’, but there were no opinions to be had. You are the solo album of the ex boy band member, who wasn’t the pretty one.

Don’t commit suicide just yet, though! Stick to this guide and defer your death by depression for at least 10 years after your degree show flop.

If you are from a poor background, please continue reading, if your background is a wealthy one, please click here for a guide tailored to your needs (

This week: DON’Ts


1. Don’t move back in with your single parent

Now how did I know you only have a single parent? Well, you chose the poor background guide, and you were a fine art student - a tragic combination that can only manifest itself through the guilt of a single parent (mother) not being able to provide you with a ‘healthy environment’, or through general apathy towards your life decisions (father).

However it may be - do not move back in with your single parent! Seriously, don’t do it. If you can, stay at least one city away from them - better yet: an ocean apart. An ocean might soak up all the pity and secret resentment they harbour for your failure as an artist.

You know how bird parents push their offspring out of the nest to force them to fly? You’re the bird that claimed it can fly in this new quirky way, and you actually did for a second, but then nose-dived into the rocky cliffs below.
Unfortunately you survived, and, although your bird parent kindly offered you to come back to the nest, they don’t mean it - as all their claims in front of the other bird parents about how special you are, and how you’ll find your own way in the world, suddenly feel a bit stale when confronted with the possibility of nursing you for the rest of your flightless life.

Moving back in with your parent will bring them to wish you wouldn’t have made it out alive after your crushing defeat at the degree show, as at your funeral they could have claimed that you “were too in touch with the raw emotions a true artist feels”, that you “were too good for this world”, and you “were the special light in everyone’s life”. Do you see that single parent over there? That single parent has lost his/her child to art. Such tragedy! - it’s wonderful.

But you just had to make it out alive, don’t you? Anything that is said about a burnt out art student by his/her parents ends with a sigh and shrug - “S/he’ll get back on track... I’m sure... some day” sigh, shrug.
It’s your parent’s coffee machine for the rest of your life. No more frappuccinos for you, motherfucker.

What I’m saying is: Don’t move back in with your parents - it will kill your street cred right dead.

2. Don’t politicise your work

It is tempting to go from enjoying the blissful freedom of a capitalist state school system to categorically hating the same capitalist state once you are out of education and are expected to make a living for yourself. This is especially true for the failed art student.

How could you ever expect to enjoy art genius success (+ the money showers that come with it) when you are living in a system that is ill-equipped to even start to understand the political scope of your work? How could any of those capitalists swines like your work when it so clearly puts a mirror in front of their greedy faces?
Your failure surely doesn’t mean you are merely a shitty artist, it can only mean that you are a visionary. A socio-political visionary that cannot be understood in the present day, but only by future generations of global communist bohemians - and thus began your career as a political artist.

As a political artist you will either move to Berlin, or to the nearest Occupy enclave, or both. As a political artist you will trade in your intellectual freedom for political pragmatism: your art will now have a message. That message will be intellectually flat: FREE this. OCCUPY that. How dare they! How could they?
You will now be part of a group of people. You will have many friends. You won’t know all of their names, but you’ll know they are comrades. Comrades marching towards the goal to make your art even shitier.
You will be their historian, your art the chronicles of the failure of their ideology. That’s kind of fitting, though, isn’t it? A failed art student engulfed in failing ideologies.

But hey, you might be lucky and put your money on the right ideology - but then again you chose to do art with a poor background, so how good can your judgement be?

What I’m saying is: Don’t become political - you don’t know what you’re doing: You’ve studied art. You know nothing.

3. Don’t become a curator

By now you should have realised that the gallery’s door will forever stay closed for you, but somehow the following fantasy has manifested itself in your otherwise unimaginative mind:

‘Let me in, let me in,’ you scream waving your art threateningly - ‘But your art’s too shitty.’

‘Hey, maybe let me in and curate the shows you put on?’ - ‘Yeah, alright then.’

The gallery’s door swings open, high-fives all around, the baristas of the gallery’s own cafe know how you like your coffee, the volunteering invigilators with their master degrees in art history adore you through their thick rimmed glasses, the gallery’s manager gives you a knowing wink and then throws tickets to New York at you, as well as a paid studio loft in the Meatpacking district and unlimited coupons to exchange for sexual gratification from absolutely anyone who has ever claimed s/he has ‘a passion for art.’

And then, as the new great band in town starts writing songs about you, you pull your shitty art out from behind your back: ‘Maybe I could curate a show with one of my pieces in?’
All the smiles wiped off the faces, coupons voided, barred from New York, baristas’ spit in your flat white, you wake up in the industrial part of town, surrounded by people who graduated with you, who you always knew were even worse artists than you, in an abandoned, asbestos-ridden factory you’ve chosen as the ‘fantastic’ venue for the art show you’ve organised and curated, all of you clinging to the false hope that some kind of art mogul will get lost, and miraculously end up in your stupid impromptu gallery held up by desperation and rat shit.

What I’m saying is: Don’t become a curator.

4. Don’t start writing about art
It will just make you seem bitter.

Do you want to know how to turn your bad fortune around - how to become an actual, full fledged artist? Check out next week’s DOs.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Isaac Nugent: A painting

When you’re dealing with figurative painting, there’s a neat way of telling how successful a painter is with his/her skills, and one part of it is done by looking at the hands of the figures. As you can see Isaac Nugent scores a 5 ¾ on the scale, which settles him nicely in the midfield of successful art pieces.
There are some other factors, however, which will deduct from this score - you might laugh at this notion of score counting, but it’s the official method of measuring an artist’s success in figurative painting. It has been taught at art schools for centuries now.
Lucien Freud for example scored a breathtaking 14 ½, Mark Rothko on the other hand still managed a surprising 2 ⅔ (mainly due to the lack of the colour pink or ‘caucasian flesh tone’ as we professionals call it).

But back to Isaac Nugent’s painting. As already stated the hands score Nugent a 5 ¾ (hands not hidden away in pockets, inside of one hand fully visible without separation of the digits, second hand cut off), but we have to make the following deductions:
- Fluorescent light bulb used instead of head (silly)
- Mob not fully recognisable as phallic substitution (disappointing)
- No boobs (predictable)

All in all the numbers add up to a round 3, which makes Nugent a better figurative painter than Mark Rothko.

Mark Rothko: Reclining nude in field of tulips, 1966

I think whilst it is clear that Nugent has a greater technical grasp of his material (paint, probably poster/powder, its a well known fact that oils take too long to dry) the emotional depth of his work also challenges that of Rothko.
 The emotional content of Rothko’s work is infamously simple roughly coming down to “I like her tits so I’m going to paint her” (see his famous piece below “Hey bitches let’s get high and talk about high modernism in the nude”). The motivation behind Nugent’s piece is fraught with far more troubling sexual desires.

This is perhaps most obvious in the confused use of mop in place of the phallus. Does Nugent want someone to have sex with or someone to clean? Does he want both? Is he simply cisgendering everything in sight? Or is it a radically masculinist statement? Is the use of the light bulb a nod to fan fiction about Minority Report? Googling “Monica is going to be murdered in the next four days and they don't know who will do it. John Anderton is assigned to protect her and forbidden emotions brew between them. set before the movie” doesn’t help.

Is Nugent Tom Cruise? Is he Brian Sewell? Is he both? Why haven’t I got dressed now? Where is the paracetamol? Why do I feel so ill? Was it something I ate? Why do I feel so cripplingly alone? Should I switch the lights on? What would it feel like to be loved? Are Pink Silk Sheets morally reprehensible but carnally desirable? Why do I even bother anymore you never listen to what say or do you? Overall I feel like this painting poses more questions (lots) than it answers (none).

I really do wish the painting could provide an answer, in whatever way possible, to communicate to us what it is we are seeing - I cannot bear to see JDA suffer from all the ambiguity. 
Surely there must be some way - maybe give it an appropriate title? Maybe label the objects in the painting? Like so:

Now I know that I’m far from being a figurative painter (I’m still stuck at pointilism), but I think my subtle additions are rather fetching, and will enable JDA to overcome his anxiety that this painting used to create in him. Assurance. That’s a word. It’s the word that abruptly appeared in this paragraph. Assurance. That’s what you feel. It’s the feeling that abruptly appeared in the painting after my addition of labels and arrows. Assurance. It’s also a great title for this piece.

First of all I’d like to just thank DJR for his excellent system. The room has stopped rocking and I feel a lot better. I’d like to see this extended to other paintings, sculptures, performance pieces and life itself. I call for a complete labelling of everything, of meta-labelling, of labelling of meta-labelling. Never mind blurring the boundaries between art and life let’s label them!

I  think labelling will help clarify the art world a great deal and believe that we should also have small signs explaining the art in greater detail so people know why this is art. Here of course it is very easy to tell that this is art because it is paint on a canvas which only gets done in art. Here are some more common types of art:
  1. Photographs on photo paper in a frame on a wall in a room that is white and only has photos in it.
  2. Really big things in public places with no clearly defined function
  3. Things that look like things but are not those things because they are copies of things
Obviously this is far from being a comprehensive list but this is definitely the way to go, a really big list of what is art. In Nugent’s defence he has gone some way to achieving this with his lovely written description of the piece. All the piece needs is clearer labelling. My suggestion to our errant artist would be to reprint the piece with DJR’s additions and exhibit it like that.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Solo Opinion 1: Coping with abstracts

This week, as JDA is away giving a talk on Alt Lit somewhere (which I think is a code for sitting in his mother's house eating hobnobs), I would like to take you on a spiritual journey. A journey I'd like to call:

Here at Art Opinion we receive a lot of great submissions of artworks to discuss and give our balanced and level-headed opinions about. Interestingly we haven't received one single abstract piece yet.

Now I know that abstract artworks can be very intimidating, as their visuals often want to tap into our rawest emotions, into a pre-intellectual space, where concepts can not quite be conceived but already push through into existence. Sometimes abstracts even leave the plane of emotions and enter the realm of post-intellectuality, where concepts are so vast and overwhelming we cannot conceive them, but hope to one day be able to.

Just have a look at Mondrian's Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue. Pre-Emotion, Post-Intellectual thrill ride:

I know you are filled with anxiety when looking at this painting. But I know a way to help you: I'll put a schlong on that.

Ah! What a relief! Now all its secrets are unlocked to me, and I need not fear it anymore!

But what about those scary Abstract Expressionists? Look at this Pollock for example: 

So much raw power, it's overwhelming... or is it?

Schlong'ed that Pollock!

Let's take on the big boy of abstract expressionism: Mark Rothko.
His paintings often can instill feelings of dread and devastating sadness in you. Like this piece:

Can you feel the melancholy just taking over your being? Or more importantly, can you schlong that abstract?

Yes, you can!

Let's schlong a German painter for good measure:

Before-Schlong Richter:

After-Schlong Richter:

You can even Schlong your own abstract:

Schlong'ed that Reinmüller well and good!

I am sure you have found this solo-opinion highly enlightening, so if you want to write your dissertation on this, I'm available for interviews.

Remember, though, to Schlong that Abstract is strictly internet-only, unless you schlong yourself!

See you next week for more opinions and some Art School Degree Show specials.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Past Opinions!

As me and JDA are still hotly debating your new art submissions, I thought it would be a good time to give a shout-out to those artists we already have discussed!

Who could ever forget our very first opinion on Polygonal Lasso Artist Robbie Penford Baker? We were so taken with it, we reviewed him twice! It also made me obtain a copy of photoshop, and sign up for a tumblr account. I did have to realise JDA is already occupying that space, so I left again.

Next in line was Nathan Anthony's flump noose - which resulted in an homage to the great Benjamin McKenzie, and a phone call to the authorities.

Catriona Gallagher gapped the void between my misunderstanding of Hegel with JDA's proficiency in Isou's poetry. Have a read here.

'Destruction of the Lover' is the name of Sue Beveridge's piece, which we thought might be used to resurrect my grandparents (aka Nazis) - alternatively it can be used as a magazine rack. More of it here.

We then delved into non-visual arts for the first time with Timothea Armour's haiku - a proposal to let the Beatpoet-Satan conquer the world and marry Timothea Armour to Charles Bukowski.

A big thank you to all these artists who let us give our opinion.
Opinions - such a rare commodity in the age of the internet. The world really does need more of them: #artopinion

In the next opinion: Mark Rothko vs Lucian Freud vs Tom Cruise.

See you soon.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Timothea Armour: A haiku

Imminent Approach
Passing Glance, Aggravation
Exit to Nowhere

[Haiku made from race horse names]
Woken up from an alcohol stupor, wounded, ashamed, but knowing very well that this routine will just continue (getting drunk, waking up, going to the horse races, getting drunk again), Charles Bukowski was a regular at the tracks.

Now I’m not sure how betting on horses works, what’s involved in the whole routine of weighing up the odds, and then betting on that outsider horse a guy with trembling eyes and only 7 digits on his hands promised you will win that race, but what I do know is that when I think about horse racing in the US, these guys show up:

In the UK, we got this bunch of people:

Now this might be a completely skewed view of reality, as the only window in my room looks into the internet, but I’m pretty sure when Charles Bukowski got up in the morning his head full of memories of school kids mocking his German accent, constipation, and the longing for pussy and alcohol, he didn’t expect to find a person, who would give him valuable insider tips so he wouldn’t have to return to the post office to work and avoid a good beating by those people he owes money to, named Timothea Armour.

Of course you are only right to mention Bukowski here, as one of the world’s leading Czech and of course the person who introduced horses to the United States. Before the literate Czech carried out a formal introduction between Eisenhower and Seabiscuit no horse was allowed U.S. citizenship, a fact that led to many of them migrating to Canada. Within the context of the powerful emotional history it seems odd that Armour has tackled it so obliquely. It is possible of course that Armour is simply ignorant of the facts, that this is merely some Fulton-esque approach at concrete poetry. I will try and contact Basho via the ouija board and see what he thinks.

I think you got your facts wrong again, JDA. Seabiscuit was known for not needing an introduction to anyone ever, especially not to Eisenhower. As you can clearly gather from the 1939 melodramatic animation called ‘Porky and Teabiscuit’ the legend of Seabiscuit was presupposed by this outstanding performance by Porky Pig, while Dwight was busy preparing to kill himself some Nazis, deeply in love with the tale of underdog success that was Seabiscuit’s race track career.

Unfortunately Porky Pig’s career took a turn for the worse when he decided to become Toby Maguire in 2003 to reprise his role as the floppy manmeat part of Seabiscuit that spurns it around the track.
Porky Pig's worst role.
Timothea Armour’s poem is clearly about Porky Pig’s career as Toby Maguire:
Imminent Approach (Seabiscuit)
Passing Glance, Aggravation (Spiderman 2, Spiderman 3)
Exit to Nowhere (Brothers)

As promised I asked Basho:

Here is his response:
    GuN iN DeaF NatIon
   BUT cRITICal cAr
                                     pErhapS INuRE aBoUt
                                       ASsEmBlY AlONG reSponSiBLe HEALth
                         As schOlAsTiC
         WIfE wiLl lEAD leAst
   carE pLUs AtTEnTIoN bRiNG
                                                                   youR TRAck cOnSult cONSUlt38, 44
                                                                   but Review SoUthweSTeRN bAtTLe
wE ExpLAIN qUaLIFied rE-eleCtIon
               76 FAsT aChiEVEMENT
                                     PErioD ShALl OpErATE bATTle
                                     acTuaLLY Or all
                                                       gENuiNe aMeRIcan DisCHArGEUnanimousLY
                                                 35, 73, 87 HOur FUlFiL
off or oUTrigHT

I think that last line of his “off or oUTrigHT” chimes nicely with Boris Groy’s last essay.

There is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which Xander together with Willow, Riley and Giles are searching for some kind of solution for a mystical problem of some sort. Riley, a paramilitaristic college student, isn’t as familiar with the paranormal world as the rest of the group is and wonders if spells actually work.
‘Sure do’, reassures Willow.
Xander, looking up from a book interjects: ‘But it’s not like you can just say ‘Librum incendere’ and expect...’ Xander is interrupted by his book catching fire.
Their English middle aged friend Giles adjusts his glasses and reminds Xander not to speak Latin in front of the books.

Similarly I’m convinced that Timothea Armour will find a combination of race horse names that will enable her - through the incantation of internet ghosts, as practiced by JDA - to resurrect Charles Bukowski.
Then both of them Timothea Armour, and Charles Bukowski can happily skip along to the track and read each other their poetry. I do hope Ms Armour does appreciate the rugged charm of a serious alcoholic pervert of the likes of Mr Bukowski, though.

I think I agree with you here DJR, and, for the delight of Ms Armour, have adopted a satanic ritual for use on beat poets:

The initiation ritual is very personal, unless you decide to have friends participate, or are doing it as part of a group.
You will need:
  • 1 or more black, blue or red candles (as many as you like)
  • A sterilized needle or razor
  • A piece of clean paper, large enough to write the prayer below
  • A dry pen, where you sign your name in whisky (dip the tip of the pen in your whiskey)
Write the following prayer:
Before the almighty and ineffable God (Insert Name of Beat Poet) and in the presence of all, (insert other beat poets names) who are the True and the Original beat poets , I, (state your full name) renounce any and all past allegiances. I renounce the false Judeo/Christian god Jehova, I renounce his vile and worthless son Jesus Christ, I renounce his foul, odious, and rotten holy spirit.
I proclaim (Insert beat poet) as my one and only God. I promise to recognize and honor him in all things, without reservation, desiring in return, his manifold assistance in the successful completion of my endeavors.

It is important to bathe before any rituals you perform, this is done out of respect. When you are ready, you can light the candle. Take the needle, prick the index finger of your left hand, squeeze some whiskey out.
Sign your name in whiskey.
Recite the prayer either aloud or in your head
Fold the paper and let it burn in the fire of the candle. Many of us have stayed and meditated until the candle had burned itself out.
At the end of the ritual, close with the words "So mote it be." And a Big "HAIL (insert name of beat poet)"

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sue Beveridge: Destruction of the Lover, 2012


Ikea’s head designers were still not 100% sure about the market for steel skeleton storage units when they commissioned this piece. The conversation they had when it was first presented to them was roughly as follows:

“The title, once this goes into commercial production will of course be “Destruktion av vännen”. The legs of course will have to be replaced with either solid pine or laminate birch effects legs. If we were going for the high end market we could experiment with maybe an oak effect too...”

“One second...”

One high powered Swedish business person had noticed a number of flaws:

“Why is there a skeleton on it?”

This statement was followed by the sort of noises that shocked, executive Swedish designers make when death is mentioned.

“We don’t know..”
Someone finally voiced the question everyone was thinking

“Is it art?”

“We don’t know...”

According to my reporter the designers are still unsure if this is a cutting edge magazine rack or art. So am I.

A steel skeleton storage unit you say? Well, of course that is a commission for the German market, obviously!
Although you are wrong about the actual application of this item. It’s a sieve for plunging into the Fatherland’s fertile lands, upon which the world’s finest Dichter and Denker walked, in order to retrieve the bones of those Dichter and Denker we got rid of around the 1930s and 40s.
The Germans that operate the sieve then leave the scene and call the remains a Holocaust Memorial, enabling the entirety of the German population to point at it screaming LOOK WE LEARNED OUR LESSON, WE’RE THE GOOD GUYS NOW and then forming and joining peace groups carrying Israel = Swastika signs.

It does double nicely as a magazine rack, though.

It definitely does work nicely as a magazine rack although another member of the Swedish design illuminati is reputed to have been particularly scornful of the skeleton, which was found to have been made out bone. The use of bone to make the skeleton has been derided by Derrida as a choice so typical of the early-post-avant-garde design hegemony that he is rumoured to have given up his membership. Brian Sewell is reported to have jumped in to fill the void, although when he learnt of the singularly inventive use of hardened horse shit to create a soul sieve for teutonic sediments he was reported to maintain a stiff upper lip.

Regardless of these trifling anecdotes, which I’m sure DJR will have heard at one of our many convoluted tea parties, this is very much an artwork of two parts.

One part is a magazine rack and the other is a skeleton that has fallen apart. I recommend gluing the two together firmly before it is exhibited again.

Yes. I remember one particular tea party where we forgot to glue the Führer’s bones to its soul sieve... now he won’t be resurrected for another thousand years. Awkward!