Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Generally, I try and keep negative opinion to a minimum on this blog. Praising something good, fine – but criticism is often just an opinion and since the web is a depository of the pornography of opinion (opinion masquerading as the real thing, but mostly there just for stimulation) it can do without my addition.
So this is a rare example, prompted in part by the backlash from some quarters against Takashi Murakami's exhibition in Versailles. Now Yoshitomo Nara, contemporary of, and culturally complementary to, Murakami is exhibiting at the Asia Society in New York and The New Yorker has a short film by Gus Powell – above – of Nara at work. (Powell nicely describes the scene as "one part Edward Hopper and one part Museum of Natural History.)
I liked Nara – I have a limited edition signed print of his from about 10 years ago as one of the (very, very) few artworks I possess. But time has passed and changes happen – except, it seems to Nara, who, like Murakami, seems to have become a product in himself. Perhaps, with calendars, books, sake, figures, ashtrays etc to promote he can't go changing his style too much. On the wall in the background to film is an old painting, exactly as it was 10 years ago, and Nara is working on painting directly onto an old electric guitar body – painting an image that could have come from the same period. Surely painting onto a guitar body is something you do for a friend, or for someone's stage act, not as main piece?
Of course, many artists continue to work in the same media or take the same approach and any changes are round the edges, unfolding over time. But this approach seems stuck in aspic rather than reveling in your chosen media.
Oh well, we all have opinions. Perhaps you don't share mine.