Here's the thing: I really like modern art. But, and it's a cantankerous, snarling but, there is an awful lot of incredibly shit modern art out there. Insipid works that give lots of the exciting, intelligent, thoughful work being made a bad name.
And I think it's down to a few things, but in the main, the fact that lots of artist are cretins.
Talking to young artists, as I strive as much as possible to avoid, has only ever confirmed this, probably demonstrably false, assertion.
I've lost count of the times I've read an artist say in interviews: "I want to make you think."
Or "I want to make you look at it another way."
Really? Wow. How original. A piece of art that makes a person think. You're really on the bleeding edge their sunshine. Saying you want to make art that makes people think is like saying: "I want to make music that people can hear."
Worse still are the young artists who say: "I want to shock you."
Shock really is the last tool of a desperate artist isn't it? Especially when it's so regularly and thoughtlessly applied. So, wait, the thing you're attempting to achieve with your work is the same sensation I get when my mum's lamp timers come on? How ambitious of you.
I'm probably being unfairly harsh (or not). I think there are a couple of reoccurring problems with young artists:
Number a) They have this adolescent obsession with profundity. Every piece of work they proffer seems to attempt to address, or worse still, answer (usually horrifically reductively), some insanely difficult question about man's ontology.
'It's about the transient nature of existence.'
'What about the transient nature of existence?'
'That existence is transient.'
'Okay. I'm going to go over there now.'
2) Being taught how to paint really well, and even being taught how to develop your ideas, doesn't make you clever. It doesn't automatically make your ideas thought-provoking or interesting.
All too often I see an artist's definition of their work, and want to climb into a cardboard box in the loft and stay there until everything goes away.
'Yeah well, this piece is saying that animal abuse is wrong.'
And this piece says the sky is blue and the floor is good and eyes are nice and water is wet.
The latter problem isn't as endemic as the former - I actually think most art schools do a good job of developing talent. I just wonder about how much they actually have to work with.
One problem is that, all too often, if a kid isn't academic, or sporting, then an educational presumption is made that they must be arty - of course only if they're middle class enough; if a kid is working class and isn't academically gifted, or good at sports then it is generally assumed they can be ignored and left to disappear.
As a result these kids are taught to concentrate pretty much solely on art, at the expense of learning pretty much anything else. It seems to me a well-thumbed copy of Sophie's World read during their Art Foundation is often the sum of many young artists' broader education.
As a person who can't so much as draw a tree without it looking like a barnyard animal self-felating, I find few things more frustrating than seeing superb skill wasted on tawdry, insipid, faux-profundity.
I don't want to sit here bashing angry words at the arts in a time of cuts, but it seems apparent to me that a good swathe of young artists might be better off turning their skills to graphic design and other more easily commercialised ventures.
Places where there skill will be appreciated and their ignorance won't matter.
[I fully realise that having a massive rant at young artists is like complaining about 'books', or 'sport' or 'society' and that this post is horrendously reductive - something I've ironically accused young artists of in the post - but frankly, bollocks to it. This is (close to) what I think]