pordenone who? a year of akickupthearts

11 July 2011 § 2 Comments

Amazingly I have now been blogging my way through the London art scene for a whole year now. I thank all those of you – some 20,000 – who have bothered to read my assorted ramblings.

Meanwhile, thanks to the nice people at WordPress, there are all sorts of reports and analyses to discover what the great British public (clearly in this case a notch above the average!) really are interested in.  Which blogs were most read, the search terms you used to find the site and what you had for breakfast? I shall reveal all….

OK, not your breakfasts, but you get my drift – there is an awful lot of analysis available and there are all sorts of statistical traps to tumble in to, the chief one being that any ‘visitor’ analysis reflects what I have actually written about eg: Marc Quinn would not be on the list because I did not write about him. Another problem is that even if I wrote about ‘Picasso’ daily who who click my blog amongst the zillions of Picasso search results?  Treat the ‘charts’ below with caution but you never know they may actually reveal something?

1. Most visited and searched of the year, by a mile, was Pordenone Montenari, an unfortunate recluse who was rocketed in to the news by an Indian fund manager who thought that he could make a quick buck by promoting him as a newly discovered genius – he isn’t (image above).

2. I spent a couple of spare hours compiling a brief list of art-related humorous quotes and jokes. Sadly it trounced many deeply considered blogs of serious critical analysis and was second most searched. Oh well…

3. Amazingly Wolf Vostell came in third. I wrote just one feature about him and commented that he was sadly ignored in the annals of post-war art. Obviously not by many hundreds of you! Exhibition curators take note…

4. Ah, then comes the first contemporary artist – clearly it will be Emin, Hirst or Banksy perhaps? No, it is Eugenie Scrase, the oft- ridiculed winner of TV’s School of Saatchi. Ignore the power of TV at your peril. Worth a flutter if she ever gets a solo gallery show.

5 & 6. Perhaps we shall now get on to some serious art? Nope. Next is Ben Wilson the ‘chewing gum artist’. Well, he is quite interesting. Picasso slips meaninglessly in at 6th before the next half-dozen places. These are taken by contemporary artists of which I have featured literally hundreds, many of them mentioned numerous times. I have covered all the emerging artists championed for example by Saatchi and the top commercial galleries. Are these the ‘cream’ of those featured? Is too little being written about them? Should we take more notice of them in the future?

7. Hannah Wilke – thanks, at least in part, to a great review of the Alison Jacques Gallery exhibition written by Sue Hall.

8. Jacco Olivier. Mesmeric fusing of painting and the moving images at Victoria Miro.

9. Alison Jackson. Hilarious and sometimes disturbing photos that ‘depict our suspicions’. Wry comments on our relationship with celebrity.

10. Wangechi Mutu. Striking paintings and collages referencing cultural identity.

11. Michael Fullerton. A brilliant show at Chisenhale and with work in British Art Now 7, his star is rising fast.

12. Following closely behind was Ida Ekblad, young and inventive Danish multi-media artist.

13. Clare Woods paints the strange, dark world of urban undergrowth.

Following close behind are Littlewhitehead and Toby Ziegler. A little farther back is Damien Hirst – perhaps surprising he’s not higher, but then again he does get rather a lot of column inches written about him.

Littlewhitehead - It Happened in the Corner

Biggest surprise? Perhaps the fact that Tracey Emin is not on the list – or in fact even in the top 50 artists – despite the fact that my Love is What You Want Hayward review appears on the first couple of pages on a Google search and that I have featured her regularly when in contrast eg: Olivier and Ekblad I featured just once. Emin perhaps is not what you want?

So there we have it. After a year of careful and deep intellectual musing on the complexities of the contemporary art scene what you really were most interested in were an Italian recluse and a few jokes. Now where did I hear about that one legged, reclusive, dwarf, artist?

pordenone montanari art – all hype, no talent

19 September 2010 § 1 Comment

Pordenone Montanari

One again the ‘art’ of Pordenone Montanari’ has reared its ugly head. The Sunday Times this morning (and others?) have picked up on the PR machine ramblings of an Indian Venture Capitalist. Did we trust these city financial speculators when they caused the meltdown of the world’s banking systems? Do we trust them now? Do we believe them when they talk about art?

This once again extracted from my post on 18 August this year:

“Indian investor Arun Rangachari, chairman of venture capital firm DAR Capital, has purchased the rights to the entire life’s work of a reclusive Italian artist by the name of Montanari, who has lived in seclusion for the past 18 years. Rangachari is building up an art collection, of which the work of Montanari will play a significant part, with the intention of setting up an art fund in the future. Before selling any of the paintings, Rangachari plans to increase the value of Montanari’s work by holding exhibitions and building a foundation dedicated to the artist’s work.”

For the full story see my two previous posts on this particularly insidious piece of hype:

Pordenone Montanari – Genius or Senile Dauber?

Pordenone Montanari – Postscript

Just in case my view is not clear – that this artist has any talent is merely the PR work of a businessman – with no interest or knowledge of art – who is using his wealth to try and make a quick buck. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Mr Rangachari has ‘bought’ any paintings at all and even less that he has paid ‘seven figures’ for them. The Sunday Times should be ashamed in that repeating this rubbish they are giving this hyped-up story undeserved credence. As for the Italian institute in London that is showing them – whose advice did they listen to and what funding and/or ‘donation’ are they receiving to further peddle this rubbish upon us?

In case you still have any doubts, illustrated is another of his works of ‘genius’ – a strange mish-mash of barely distinguishable objects in a vaguely sub-cubist palette and style that might have been of passing interest in 1910, but not now thanks.

pordenone montanari – genius or senile dauber?

16 August 2010 § 4 Comments

Hoorah! A new Italian artistic ‘genius’ has been discovered according to a story published yesterday in the Observer (15 Aug) and Guardian online. ‘Eccentric’ Pordenone Montanari has been living as a ‘recluse’ for the last 18 years, spending every minute painting and sculpting. The resulting work according to experts has been described as ‘worthy of major exhibition and representation in public galleries’.

So far so good – it is not unusual for artists to receive recognition late in their life, or after-life for that matter. Nevertheless to slip by totally unnoticed up to the age of 73 seems a little, shall we say, careless, even Van Gogh desperately sought recognition during his lifetime. Then we learn of Montanari’s early history – he studied sculpture at Brera in the 60’s before ‘travelling extensively, living on family money’, perhaps doing a little painting and sculpting as he scrounged, sorry explored? It is said that he sold some paintings to a bank 24 years ago so – why a bank? The bank presumably paid money for them and he was presumably showing and selling at that time? Why not the public and why are we not being told? Could it be because he was actually a rather bad, failed artist rather than an undiscovered one? Perhaps I am jumping the gun here and I should look at the work more carefully first.

So, fast-forward twenty-four years. Montanari has apparently spent most of them in self-imposed isolation painting and sculpting, fed and watered by his, no doubt long-suffering, wife. We are shown images of half a dozen paintings – four feature female models and two still lives. Immediately we recognise them as amateurish pastiches of post-impressionist and early 20th century avant-garde art. The bold outlines of Van Gogh without the emotion, the colour fields of the fauves without any sense of colour. A full-length portrait against a red background shows a female who seems to be toppling backwards whilst carrying a rugby ball (perhaps a Welsh forward?).

One of the messy and confused still-lives seems to feature a dead dog – one recalls Picasso only in that the cubist still-lives played with our ability to recognise images and shapes from fragmented, multiple viewpoints – sadly here it is because he can not paint.  The figures are soulless, seemingly trapped in corners and surrounded by mirrors and frames – their supposed similarity to the poetic, dreamlike and humourous Chagall zero. They are meant to show ‘elements of Bacon’ – the only connection I can see is that my local builder’s caff where I eat my Saturday morning fry-up has similarly dreadful pictures on the wall. They may have had some passing historical interest had he been painting before the first war but in the last twenty years, no.

But hold on – were they not discovered by a renowned expert in post-war art? Well, not quite. Actually the find was by an Indian businessman whose friend conveniently happens to run an investment, advisory and private capital firm. Ok, what about the ‘high seven figure sum’ for rights to the artists estate? Given that seven figures is a million the sum must presumably be between about £5 and £9 million, working out at over £10k for every work of  ‘art’, then surely they must be significant works? Do you believe it? I think we should see a copy of the contract dont you? 

I think by now you will notice my scepticism. Indeed, to me this has all the hallmarks of a hyped up money-making venture. My advice – steer well clear. Me? I am off to the caff to see if they are willing to sell! Arrivederci.

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