That which hears more stupidities than anything else in the world is a painting in a museum. Jules de Concourt, 1866
The cold that started as a sniffle more than a month ago has recently turned into a gurgling stream; the cough that began as a mid-morning irritant has become a chest infection a little like an unwanted house-guest that has overstayed their welcome. Both of which, I'm desperately trying to cure through remedies ancient and modern.
I've deluged my throat with so many pastilles to ease the barbed-wire pain there that I've become hyper-active; I've smeared so much vapour-rub across my chest to create some form of normality in breathing that I break out into 90-degree cold-sweats and I've now invested in herbal remedies that'd see a wise-woman from the middle ages taken outside, tied to a steak (don't hurt me, I'm a vegetarian) and burned to a crisp.
Unfortunately, nothing much is working.
My latest cold and flu potion is organic and wildecrafted - how do I know this? It is written on the bottle and it must be unbelievably bloody organic because it includes extracts of: elder berry, osha root, cherry bark, venus fly-trap, bitter orange peel, cayenne pepper, sage, garlic, coffee bean, onion, yarrow, pleurisy root, lobellia seed, licorice root, osha root and elder flower in a base of (wait for it) super-oxygenated, energised, distilled water, organic apple cider vinegar and organic grain alcohol.
According to the label, it has been aged for months. Also, according to the label, it is very expensive. Not according to the label, it tastes quite revolting.
Nor has it done a great deal for my mood over the last few days.
Project X is sitting very very patiently at the traffic lights, waiting on them turning a different colour from red. Amber would be fine, since then I could engage gear. Green would be fantastic too... but, at present, its like being the first vehicle at a set of road works; there is a lot of oncoming traffic and the bloke who signals from afar to his opposite number near me to switch the side of his oval batton from red to green has yet to do so. Should I turn the engine off or leave it iddling? The gear-stick is in neutral, my hand on the knob, my foot on the clutch and I'm drumming my fingers on the dashboard patiently. Patiently... patiently.
My mind wanders.
All art is a more or less oblique kind of confession. All artists are forced to tell the whole story and vomit the anguish up. James Baldwin - from the Northern Protestant, 1961.
I love great Art. What I don't like is art spelled with a capital F.
The vision of the ancients, carving extraordinary shapes in rock or in stone, learning to defy convention and gravity by constructing the most exquisite monuments to their Gods - be they churches, cathedrals or temples in Indonesia, The Outer Hebrides, Greece or Mexico; the statues of Easter Island, the Pyramids, the Christ the Redeemer cross high above Rio, Petra in ancient Jordan, the Alhambra Palace, even Eiffel's great creations - the Tower in Paris and Liberty in New York, the Taj Mahal. Beauty, beauty, beauty.
How about the subtle simplicity of Origami, the painstakingly beautiful lettering of Medieval scripts, Henry Moore's oblique structures and Rembrandt's pen and ink sketches - fading almost to the point of no return in the Guggenheim in Venice - or marveling at the small scale of Dali's Clocks (yes, I know its titled something else but I can't remember what it is more properly called).
Stanley Mouse or Rik Griffin's poster art of the late Sixties and Cecil Aldin's watercolours of old English Coaching Inns from the age of the Stage Coach by way of Van Gogh's Sunset Through an Avenue Of Trees to Picasso's Girl With A Mandolin.
From Bosch and his pre-acid hallucinatory incubus of the petrified macabre - still-life at its most terrible - to Monet and his impressionistic enchanted lillies via Turner and his apocalyptic seascape visions, through Matisse and Chagal to Kaarsh and Mapplethorpe's essays in black and white photographic beauty.
And a thousand others in between.
Art - in its widest, visual context that brings one back to it time and time again.
Something new to attract the eye and stimulate the mind; something fresh to see each and every time.
And, an endless cultural journey to last a lifetime.
Can the same be said for an installation that can only be described as follows: one length of string stretched between four nails - two of which have been hammered into a wall and the other two whacked into the floor. The string (brown in colour so as to be accurate) was then stretched between all four nails to make an out of kilter oblong box. (F)artist then stood back and admired his (her) handiwork.
Didn't anyone, anywhere have the courage to say to (f)artist X or Y... that's absolute crap, pal..?
Try this, then...
I'm wondering how much worth there is in a paintinp that takes up the entire wall of a room within one particular museum which I can think of that consists of nothing other than blobs and splodges of paint thrown randomly at the canvas. Not much, I think you'd agree.
However, forseeing that most sane people would also come to that conclusion, the painter took to riding his bike over said canvas - randomly most probably - to... well, all it did was spread out the splodges and blobs in uncoordinated wheel marks.
After a while, probably about half an hour, the painter either got bored with cycling aimlessly, became a bit tired or simply fancied a beer. Whatever it was, he climbed off and signed his name at the bottom left hand corner.