There are two contenders to offer up for the coveted prize of worst show ever.
The first was a show of a young man named Carlos Diaz and took place in Berlin some years ago and the second is the work of a contemporary London based artist and businessman named Azam.
Contender number one happened on the outskirts of Berlin in a scenic district called Spandau with the somewhat infamous past of being the post-war prison to Rudolf Hess and his cohorts. This was a group show but for our purpose, I will focus on only one of the participating artists. The work itself was poorly hung and would have been an embarrassment to an o level art student/photographer. It looked as though it was hung in absolute haste and with absolutely no thought to its impact on the other work in the show. The exhibition on a larger scale appeared to have been badly curated, if in fact, the work was considered as a whole. The artist hadn't even bothered to invest in proper frames and had instead drawn the frames onto the wall surrounding each print. To my horror, this artist decided this wasn't working so he decided (during the show) to take his work off the wall put it in the car and drive home all with the help of a large bottle of Jose Cuervo.
The second show is by a contemporary London artist/business man and while enthusiastic, was a poor excuse for painting. I can imagine this painter rising to fame and critical acceptance but this is said with the voice of a cynic. The work was a series of poorly executed pastiches drawing shamelessly and unapologetically from every major talent of the past century. While I can see the importance of drawing from one's antecedents I also feel, in this kind of contemporary representational painting it is crucial to have an element of originality unless one is working within the realm of appropriation, which this particular man was not. His uncontrolled and ill-considered stylistic changes he even called "periods" within his artistic life. Possibly these works were destined for the boardrooms of London and if this was the artists only desired destination for his offspring then I would have to say he was a success.
Azam's work has to be the prime example of what money and connection can buy. One of my old tutors was succinct in saying that money can buy many things but credibility is not one of them.
His series entitled entanglement and emotion do nothing more than make me weep for their naivete. It would be simplistic and small-minded for me to criticise this man because of his financial good fortune and his brazen self-publishing but with all of these advantages, I would expect a more successful effort. I do have to acknowledge that I am criticising the man and his work with a mediocre understanding of contemporary and classical art history and a slightly left of centre political viewpoint but it seems he has no understanding of contemporary art nor, it would appear, does he want any. He has the capital to finance his foray into the London art world having worked as a successful businessman for 20 years. The show consisted of maybe sixty reasonably large canvases and I found myself envying the fact that he could be so casual with the use of these expensive supports for work that was in fact still in the sketch stage and should have been, in my humble opinion, work done on paper before one committed to the canvas. Perhaps there is a large part of me that is criticising this work based on my envy of the ease with which he is able to disseminate this nonsense but there is also a part of me that is being critically objective. Recently, he has become artist in residence at county hall and I can only assume this would be after a massive injection of cash. There is an enormous bronze placed with conspicuous proximity to the Dali bronze on the Southbank by county hall and this just makes me want to cry.
While I am ever hopeful that people can actually see the wood for the trees, I cannot help harbouring a modicum of doubt for an objective and lucid public perspective.
My subjective and possibly naive opinion is that a work of art should speak for itself but in this case, it is the titles that speak volumes on this vapid oeuvre.
Anatomica: skull 1
Bitter enchantment 11
Blue savannah duplicity 1
Blue savannah duplicity 11
Bonded essence 111
Bonded essence V11
Compositional turmoil 11
Compositional turmoil 1
Fabricated mural V
Visceral motion 111
Visceral motion 1V
Figurative inflection: inflexion
Assimilated prey 111
Concentric contortions 1V
Assimilated prey 11
Assimilated prey 1
Figurative overture: reflex arc
Eclectic grace blue 1V
Eclectic grace blue V
Eclectic grace blue V1
Eclectic grace blue 11
Concentric contortions V
Concentric contortions V1
Concentric contortions V11
Formlative sedation: movement (ibid)
Rebirth linear: outset
Rebirth variations 111
Bonded essence 1V
Figurative axiom: regressive 111
Formulative seadtion: passive 1
Formulative seadtion: passive111
Formulative seadtion: passive1V
And so these wondrous titles continue ad infinitum or until I saw through my jugular with the bluntest of bread knives.