Yes... I took a large group of artists to a guided tour of the John Moore's 25th Biennial painting exhibition at Liverpool's Walker art gallery last Friday, 14th November. As with any visit to an exhibition there was certainly some trenchant views expressed that went from the extreme of "...it's fascinating to get an insight into an artist's mind..." To "...my five-year-old could do better." Isn't that what art is supposed to do? Spark off debate and get people engaged in talking about Art?
The problem with much one finds in the John Moore's - indeed in all similar exhibitions that purports to show cutting edge art - is that when one walks through the gallery, many of the paintings leave us unmoved. The reasons for this is that often the content is difficult, or impossible, to understand without something or someone telling is what the painting is about and the ideas behind it. Often the ideas behind the painting is more interesting than the visual impact the piece offers. So it was with the half-dozen paintings that the guide, Paul O'keef, showed us. Without his in depth explanation much of what is on the walls would have left us disengaged and bemused. I later looked up the winner and prize winners on the internet and found virtually all of them were from London! So, too, were probably the judges! Aren't Jake and Dinos Chapman based there? And a quick look at several more of the judges (5 in total) gives it all a very London bias. Of over 3.000 submissions (at £15 a submission - or that's what it was two years ago when I submitted) only about forty made it to the final show. How several of the paintings made it that far left me confused, when I consider the finished product, and a feeling that it was "knocked out" in a matter of minutes! Okay, it may have taken the artist a whole year of preliminary thought processes to reach that point of final burst of energy and creative output. But I'd put money on that many better submissions were rejected.