Sunday, 22 August 2004

Back to School

I took another break from the palette on Friday night. It was the opening of the MFA show at the University which proved, at least on a first inspection, to be pretty interesting (not least because a friend is represented in it). I'll go back when it's quieter and I have more time.

While I was between conversations with people I knew, I met a Taiwanese PhD student who was keen to talk about her painting. Turned out she has a show coming up at the gallery I'm going to talk to on Monday about a group show.

She pressed an invitation on me and asked if I liked the work shown. It's always difficult on these occasions to say "No, I hate it," but luckily I didn't have to.

"Yes, I do" I said, "I'm a figurative painter myself."

Which was the cue for her to explain her work to me.. One of the images was of a monochrome painting obviously derived from a television image of Elvis Presley. Very grainy and blurred, but obviously Elvis.

"My work is about reality and our perception of it," she said. "We know it's Elvis but it doesn't look like him."

On the front of the card was a painting in full colour of a branch of a bush, again photographically derived..

"What is this stuff?" she asked, rhetorically, pointing to some blurred.foliage in the background. "It doesn't look like leaves, but we read it as leaves. What is the reality issue here?"

Luckily, I don't think she wanted an answer, just someone to bounce her ideas off in an excited manner.

It wasn't until she'd gone to give out more invitations that I was able to take a more relaxed look at the images on the card. One question she hadn't asked me. Did I think they were good paintings? By which I mean, did I find them aesthetically pleasing? And the answer has to be "No." They looked like they might be well enough crafted, but the compositions weren't good.

But then, who gives a toss for outmoded aesthetics these days, eh?

Too much thinking and not enough emoting, I'm afraid.

Later, in the
Trent House, I sat with a couple of the Fine Art Department's former staff (secretary and technician), both now retired. Over a pint or three we reminisced about the lacklustre attempts at education made by some of the less talented tutors.

Ee, it was like Old Farts Heaven.

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