Wednesday, March 5

Bad Language

I'm in New Plymouth briefly, tomorrow I return to Central Otago. Yesterday and today I visited the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. For those of my site visitors who do not live in New Zealand this is an art museum which prides itself on being the leading contemporary art gallery in the country.

I have not made any art political postings for almost a year. The last time was when I criticised the quality and cost of Prospect, an exhibition at the City Gallery in Wellington. I was rather intemperate and sparks flew and I was taken off their mailing list.

I admire a paragraph in an Elizabeth Knox novel which says something like 'clarity in language is a form of politeness.' I might not have this quote exactly right but I have the sense of it.

Here is an excerpt from a wall panel at the Govett-Brewster. I do not want to say which artist it is describing, that is irrelevant. This is curatorism. I wish that curators didn't think that they have to write like this.

For this visionary landscape ....... has drawn on the hallucinatory works of sixteenth-century figurative painters Hieronymous Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, countercultural rhetoric, utopian futurism and the fantasies of survivalists, millenarians and social exiles. Combining aspects of the familiar, antique and ultramodern, the figures model the faithfulness of spiritual and alternative lifestyles yet also allude to the futility and compromise inherent to dreams ..... suggests a complex of ideas about time, hope, social and evolutionary change.