Archive: Issue No. 128, April 2008

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Dead Meat
by Ed Young

Once upon a time there was a lovely painting. But the painting had a spell of a fearful sort cast upon it, which could only be broken by a young artist's first stroke. It was locked away in a castle guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon. Many brave painters and collectors had attempted to free it from this dreadful prison, but none had prevailed. The painting waited in the dragon's keep in the highest room of the tallest tower for its true genius and true love's first glaze.

Like that's ever gonna happen.

Painting is not dead. Its persistence is merely irritating. As one often wishes a sudden death upon one's in-laws, one is only rewarded (perhaps only in vain) with the coupled realisation of a vommie and a sigh. 'Fresh Meat' was shown at whatiftheworld gallery's new white cube in the ever trendy, ever growing Woodstock art precinct. But all these guys should catch a wakeup.

Curated by ArtHeat's controversial Robert Sloon, the show proved to be no more than a self-indulgent, back-patting, unknowing and unprepared product of art school kids whose main priority was to have a show any show. And these kids prefer to be labelled as painters not artists PAINTERS! A priority could have been to kick major ass.

Upon first encounters with the project I was left with a fuzzy feeling, like 'when we used to climb the rope in gym class'. And the thought of the fearful and edgy Sloon as curator left much hope in the eyes of many. But as Picasso entered his Blue Period, so too Sloon found himself optimised in his Soft Period. This is evident from the catalogue essay and his recent censoring of ArtHeat. Go hard!

But Sloon did not really act as curator. A banal show such as this could have easily been made interesting. Sloon acted as facilitator, and word has it that there is a job going at SANG for a contemporary curator of painting, or gallery assistant, or whatever.

The press release states that: ''Fresh Meat' is a show of new painting, by a group of painters who have come together to strengthen the presence and position of their shared attitude. Painting tends to be hemmed in and misunderstood both by a conservative mainstream and by other artists who see themselves as conceptual. This group of painters is well acquainted with contemporary theory and philosophy of art, but is taking it into a new debate which aims, as Francis Bacon put it, to "deepen the game".'

I am not convinced.

What is lacking is exactly this discursive element of which the press release speaks. Do not make excuses. The show was rushed, ill-conceived and really, really badly curated.

Georgina Gratrix presented rushed paintings. Lauren Palte struggles with the brush. Rebecca Haysom paints cool kids in forests. Trasi Henen's work was borrowed from her unsuccessful SMAC show. Matthew Luke Hindley makes expensive stoner paintings (in much the same way that DJ Spooky speaks of Surrealism). Linda Stupart, apparently approached for her conceptual presence, painted cool kids sleeping. Lizza Littlewort

A mild surprise was the work of Justin Brett. Although he is somewhat dislikeable person, the boy might enjoy a promising future.

Jake Aikman paid me 100 bucks to say nice things about him. Aikman's Nurse Paintings mimic those of Richard Prince, who in turn imitates pulp romance novels. Although there is no real distinction between that of Aikman and Prince, the latter remains slightly more successful.

Aikman was awarded an honorary position on the show after beating conceptualist Doug Gimberg in what seemed like an interminable arm wrestling match at the AVA. Gimberg promoted the 'painting is dead' ideology. Aikman endorsed the fact that painting was 'undead'.

Conceptualist Christian Nerf explained that Aikman was probably in the right: 'Painting is undead. It's a fucking Zombie.'

Opens: January 25
Closes: February 23

whatiftheworld / Gallery
1st Floor Albert Hall, 208 Albert Road, Woodstock
Tel: (021) 448 1438
Hours: Tue - Fri 10am - 4pm, Sat 10am - 3pm