TWO HOURS IN CORK STREET
A gallery review ( no pen so from memory ) by Phil Webber
'there is no such thing as bad art - if it's bad it's not art' anon.
Starting at the top, down the left side, those that had bothered to open by eleven:
First stop was the Waddington, usual collection of Modern stuff at one end (a good Ben Nicholson) and a load of Patrick Heron's at the other(good).
"Would one be a good investment though?" the curly haired aesthete asked, peering at his wife over his tortoiseshell specs " Oh, you'd always be able to sell it" softly whined the american woman before noticing my eavesdropping and adding " but that's never the reason to buy art, it's for the joy it brings". She was tall and plump in a short skirt and boots, wearing a multi-coloured ethnic cap for a whiff of eccentricity and her turqoise cardigan clashed with every painting. As I left she was asking her young child not to smear his hands over the canvas "in case the paint comes off".
The next gallery had (bad)medium sized abstract paintings for the home or office. Having discovered an additive which renders paint glutinous and transparent, this person had decided to pour it over masked shapes and guess what? Pouring blue over yellow makes green. Removing the tape contrasted the urbanity of the sharp and angular with the organic flow of the natural.
Next stop and it's (bad) paintings of flowers with the paint smeared uniformly to give the illusion of one of those 3D postcards. Pointless. Oh yes, some pencil and gouache outlines of naked women reclining, their lips and nipples coloured solid red - a bloody cheek considering the Mayor gallery oppositehas a show of Tom Wesselman's drawings (good)at the moment. I wish I could remember the name of this gallery but I know from past visits it seems to specialise in the worst excesses of european crap art (not to be confused with 'trash art')
Coming up the other side and the first stop, on the corner, is the Houldsworth and a show of photographic portraits by Paul Hodgson. Not my cup of chino but that doesn't mean bad and, with reservations I thought they were good. But not good enough to say more apart from that they are big and eerie.
Now the best (good)show in the street at the Alan Cristea Gallery; Langlands and Bell: Language Of Places. Mainly maps of flight paths over Britain and the World printed on glass with no other geographical reference.
The Mayor Gallery (good). Previously mentioned show of small Wesselman drawings and collages from the sixties until about two years ago. Good idiosyncratic selection of Pop art. Curious collection of hand painted shoes by Tanya Lang from a previous show 'presented' (whatever that means) by proffesional artist Gavin Turk. We here at the club were painting shoes (and wearing them) ten years ago and here's some to prove it. Interesting to see work priced up: a minor Lichenstein for over a million and the Wesselman's four to ten grand (shoes £350)
John Kirby (good on balance) at Flowers Central. I'm still a bit of a sucker for this kind of understated, clinical, flat, bland , cold, wooden, scottish, matter -of-fact figurative stuff. Stiff expressionless people staring out from empty compositions. Good old gloomy oil on canvas (honestly, I am not being ironic).
Talking of oil on canvas the Redfern had a show of some woman's flower paintings (bad)which blind prejudice prevented me from even entering.
Although not Cork Street, just round the corner in Old Burlington St is the Stephen Friedman gallery which had the second best show (good)of the day by the Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwanderbut one half of the show was bad; this was the half that consisted of small brown canvases of fruit executed in a sort of Cezanne meets Rembrandt style resembling the curtain material for a suburban seventies dining room ( I think I'm making this sound better than it is). But the rest was good: Four folding tables, the first with a maze of matchboxes and dead beetles, the second bearing formations of ants glued to the pages of perspex books. The third and fourth table mapped out the alphabet and numbers from 1-31 respectively using scraps of litter relevent to the chosen symbol
.People talk about contemporary art having no substance and depending on gimmickry but so far today the opposite is true; virtually all the 'traditional' work on show here is shallow, decorative and meaningless. Maybe a child of three couldn't do it but it would be at home down the road on the railings.
...........and if you want a proper Gallery to visit go to the South London Gallery and see Keith Tyson's 'Supercollider (good)', the titlepiece of the show and wonderful - unfortunately the rest of it is bollocks(bad but not very) but inconsistency is considered a virtue here at the Ding Dong so it doesn't matter.