Art Comment Quarterly
A Visitation by Cardinal de Ratseal
We at ArtComment were thrilled to be graced by another visit from the crusty and irascible Cardinal de Ratseal. Apologies in advance for our unedited publication of his pithy 'Painters Prayer' below which he has so graciously offered up to you. Undeniably biased, and unforgiveably rude, I think it is still a worthwhile read - or not?
The Painter's Prayer
From the tyranny of fashion
From the cutting edge
Lord save us
From social irony
From artist's statements
Lord spare us
From a thousand post graduate theses on aesthetics
Lord castrate them without anaesthetic
From art schools and academies
From the legions of instillationists
On a treadmill ever fatuous
Christ, you have suffered enough
Boil them in extreme unction
From the sycophants and explainers
The philosopher-critics and purveyors of novelty
Lord do not listen to the revisionists, let the fires of hell be real
Open the bowels ofthe earth and keep their anuses warm
With hot pokers over many centuries
Only grant this to me 0 lord And I will endeavor to follow the truth.
Gleaned from the Chaff
On a similar theme to de's poem above, I spotted an interesting report which I spotted on http://www.artsjournal.com/visualarts/, whose website is featured daily on the ArtVitae.com home page.
"Frankfurt Garbage Collectors Destroy Artwork - Frankfurt sanitation workers mistakenly removed and destroyed some yellow plastic sheets on the street that were part of an art installation. Thirty of the dustmen are now being sent to modern art classes to try to ensure that the same mistake never happens again. The head of Frankfurt's sanitation department, Peter Postleb, took responsibility for the destruction of the sculpture, saying that confusing the plastic sheets with rubbish was an easy mistake to make. He thought they were abandoned building materials." - The Guardian (UK) 01/13/05
Artist John Lauder Davies attended the ArtVitae Unplugged art exhibtion at the Dunamaise Art Centre in Portlaoise, Ireland this last February. Artists exhibiting at Dunamaise were: Brenda Harris, Miriam Robinson, Robert Fazier, Francis Tansey, Hilary Elmes, Leonard Shiel, and Patrick Morrison. For brief bios of the artists see: Preview. Because I had to leave the country due to a family emergency, John has volunteered to give you his account of his experience on the opening night:
"On this night as we sped towards the lights of Portlaoise and the 'Unplugged' exhibition at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, the 'plug' had certainly been pulled on the weather, as it so often does in happy Ireland. I had co-opted my son Simeon and his Israeli girlfriend Keshet to support me in my quest to find and record the excitement and romance that such a portentous gathering of artists had suggested to my eager fantasies.
On this night as we sped towards the lights of Portlaoise and the 'Unplugged' exhibition at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, the 'plug' had certainly been pulled on the weather, as it so often does in happy Ireland. I had co-opted my son Simeon and his Israeli girlfriend Keshet to support me in my quest to find and record the excitement and romance that such a portentous gathering of artists had suggested to my eager fantasies.
Leaving the cocoon of my warm car, through the glistening wet February streets, I felt myself magically beamed-down into an exotic pinky blue glow of the local cinema just across from the exhibition venue - was this some sort of mysterious premonition? - and that anonymous languid dark beauty that I spied silhouetted by the reflected lights, pulling on some, as I imagined, 'Blue Gitane' cigarette, a player in the night to come?
As it turned out she was not queuing for the Arts Centre and she apparently wasn't an artist looking for an audience - she looked beyond us and she was gone. But still, the mood was set.
Through the grand doors of the Centre and there are some people and some pictures, but - hang on - no obligatory gallery wine table? Oh God! Did I get the wrong night? But wait, there is a photographer. Paparazzi? The promised excitement was now tantalizingly close. If I could act normal, smile inconspicuously, and look interestedly at the pictures, perhaps I will get my double chin in tomorrow's daily. He's coming over to us, big camera in hand. Does he know we are not famous (yet?)? At the last instant I maneuver my son and his girlfriend in front of me. My big little moment passes and my son and his girlfriend get their photo in the local newspaper. Should I smugly give myself credit for selflessly bowing out in favour of my young companions, or, just perhaps, my son with his punk coif bristling animatedly towards the cubes on the wall, and his girlfriend effortlessly radiating her natural oriental beauty, were the photographer's target subjects from the start? Whatever.
But wait, those three at the end of the room - are they artists at hand? And how do I get their introduction? No matter, just heard that the wine table is upstairs. Onwards and upwards.
Once upstairs in the main gallery, I instruct my son's girlfriend to photograph everything that moves - maybe its famous or an artist or both. Thanks to the Gods for the lubricating wine. Or not? Why is that woman smiling at me? Is she an artist? Perhaps, in our masks of anonymity she too thinks I'm one of the exhibiting artists. I smile a quizzical smile back at her and strike a grand and dashing pose, nearly knocking a heavy Robert Frazier off a pedestal - well, that is, his graceful forces of flow frozen in glass and stone. [Editor's note: Fortunately enough the sculpture did not fall, as it was later sold that night.]
Still no clear sign of artists and then suddenly more movement - more and more bodies about the place. Could he be one? Or she be one - does she moves like that because she stoops all day over her work?
Then glancing toward the winding staircase that leads up into the room I become conscious of a vision of exquisite and stately shabbiness ascending the stairs: a hat looms into view - a hat with gesture - a mix of a Joseph Beuys brim and the crumpled humour of a Buster Keaton's. I knew instinctively, this must be an artist - or at least the tip of one. Then gradually, the rest of the vision unfurls below the hat, and although having never met the man, all doubt in my mind is removed. "Hullo", I say, "I'm a friend of [your humble editor]." He was Patrick Morrison, and he was both an artist and famous. Where is that bloody photographer now?
The ice is broken. Glasses clink. Suddenly all is revealed in a chain reaction of introductions. Let the party begin."
Pictures from Dunamaise Unplugged opening:
John Davies is one of those amazing personalities that one meets in hidden-away rural Ireland. Artist, scholar, educator, thinker, and al'round Renaisance man, John is in the process of building a log cabin - single-handedly - down near Hard Bog in the hinterland between Counties Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Also see the work of John's uncle, artist Kenneth Lauder .
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