Monday, 24 April 2017

Vispo/Concrete Poetry: Police State

RTomens, 2017

Remix of a remixed vispo or concrete poetry piece I made a couple of years ago in the name of nothing. I am a machine. The machine is me.

(tags: vispo, concrete poetry, bob cobbing, bob dobalina, alt-poetry,, alt-art, alt-everything)

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Gustav Metzger manifesto / György Kepes

Walking into Tate Modern's members' bar I feel like a total class traitor....ha-ha! 
(I don't shout)
(I might have also shouted, but didn't)

Mooching about in the rooms we came across a Gustav Metzger manifesto from 1962, first distributed at the Misfits evening at the ICA London the same year.

Just as Punk's supposedly destructive energy has been well and truly appropriated, so too has Auto-Destructive Art, of course. The appropriation of the artist by the bourgeoisie. The revolution will be curated, d-ahling..

In another room, a small exhibition of some György Kepes photos, which are first class. Here's R with Compass (1939-40)...'R' for Robin, geddit? 

(tags: Gustav Metzger, György Kepes, bourgeois appropriation, photomontage, Robin Tomens ruins your view)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Abstract Art: Feel Free To Reject It

Choice and Defiance, RTomens, 2017

When you look at abstract art are you thinking from the bottom up or top down? This article relating to such things prompted a discussion with LJ this morning about why Mr & Mrs People don't 'get' abstract art. Bottom up thinking is wanting to make sense of things we see due to centuries of bio-programming, whereas top down thinking relies on 'personal experience and knowledge', apparently.

So I had a fink about all this...

...and it bloody well hurt, I can tell you...

...but it struck me as ironic that Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock are used in the article as examples of abstract art that would dumbfound the dumb because, as you know, they're postcard stars of the art world. By which I mean they've broken out of the abstract ghetto and, to a large extent, into the mainstream. Which is not to say that most 'uneducated' (art appreciation-wise) folk wouldn't look blankly at work by either; just that a show of Rothko's would undoubtedly be massively popular, not least because somewhere down the line of transmission in pop culture he got a rep, probably the biggest rep, for being 'spiritual'. So it became received wisdom that to sit surrounded by Rothkos for half an hour would amount to a divine experience. People want that. If they don't go to church to get it being transformed into a Zen-like state of meditative bliss by works of art is a 'cool' alternative.

People will buy any old shit if it's packaged and promoted well. Returning to matters psychological, as with UFOs, if people want to believe, their minds will interpret any phenomenon relating to their desires as fact.

We are totally programmable, no doubt about that. Often it seems we can be programmed more thoroughly if our personalities render us more susceptible. Don't they say that only certain people can be hypnotised and that hypnotists have trained themselves to spot them? Why do some people discover 'abstraction', or any non-linear art forms and respond positively, whilst others reject them? Is it simply a matter of education? Or what we call 'open-mindedness'? And why does that open mind evolve?

Yes, more questions than answers. I do apologise. It's obvious to me, though, that social programming plays a huge part in how we respond to art. We go through extensive programming (or training) from an early age, from nursery rhymes to Pop music (by which I mean everything from club music to simple songs), pictures in books to cinematic stories. All the time getting used to the idea that everything must have a beginning, middle and conclusive end, tell a 'story' or mirror reality, visually. No wonder we're stumped by anything that doesn't offer neat resolutions.

If, as they say, children can be more responsive to radical art than us baggage-laden adults, it surely suggests that such free thinking is beaten out of us by the full force of mainstream culture's capitalist, market-driven instruments. We succumb readily to their powers of persuasion and therefore feed a massive sector of the economy.

I'm not suggesting society (or a large section of it) would collapse should we free ourselves from these shackles, but a lot of careers (and jobs) would go down the pan. Perhaps, after all, there is a wider conspiracy to keep us thinking narrowly when it comes to the arts. It may be unspoken and not officially organised, but it's there by mutual consent.

Ironically, Abstract Expressionism (along with Jazz) was used as a weapon by the CIA during the Cold War. It represented the kind of 'freedom' Commies simply couldn't have. Freedom though, as represented by abstract art (music, film or literature), seems to be what the majority of people in the West don't want or understand.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Nothing Else Can Change Anything In This World

RTomens, 2017

In the gallery yesterday a girl, aged about ten, asked me what one of my pictures was about. She didn't know it was mine, just happened to want to know about that one. So I told her as best I could, allowing for age, ie, without the kind of complex explanation required to describe a piece of work which both pays homage to and undermines old-fashioned notions of masculinity and in relation to the 21st century asks the question: "What use are stereotypes when reality constantly undermines them even though men insist on conforming because they're in need of protective armour?"

Then, with a sweep of her little arm to indicate the rest of the group exhibition, she said: "Did you make all these as well?"

Tuesday, 11 April 2017


mobile phone, 
mobile phone, 
mobile phone, 
mobile phone ("When I see him, yeah?"), 

(Kentish Town High Street)

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Hungry Hustler

RTomens, 2017

Erase text. Alter meaning. I've long been interested in the idea of erasing text and images, as if attempting, in the case of the latter, to 'rewrite' history, perhaps. Or reshape it to my own liking. Images from the past are pleasing enough in themselves yet the opportunity to change them remains irresistible...the lure of collage...the creation of a new world from the old, which remains unmistakably 'old' by nature yet born anew according to what the artist sees, what is possible there in the time-frozen then reanimated image. In The Hungry Hustler I have erased text to leave a new message from words placed just as they were in the original advert.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A-Bombs In A US City

(tags: art print, US warfare, collage print, Jim Dine, 50s America, pop art, punk art)

RTomens, 2017

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Print: Mountain of Dreams

(tag: art prints, digital collage, post-print collage, Skoob books, studio-less artists, artists who don't need studios because their work is digital and, to be honest, aren't proper artists anyway, are they?)

Post-print processing of Mountain of Dreams.

...hey, after saying "Everybody's an artist" the other day, guess what?
I'm selling stuff in Skoob books this morning when the girl behind the counter asks if I want a bag, which I turn down, saying I'll only recycle it when I get home. She then tells me about the time she put books in a bag with some watercolours which leaked all over them because they weren't in their own bag. "Oh," I say. "Are you an artist?" She is. So we have a chat about art, getting studios in London, the Paula Rego film on TV the other night, selling work and so on. Good girl...she gave me a decent price on the books. There's no fear of watercolours ever being in the same bag as my books...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Print Collage: On-Target / Everyone's An Artist

It reminded me of the scene in Spaced when she's slaving away at the sink in a restaurant kitchen, declaring herself to be a writer, in other words, too good for that, when everyone else in the kitchen turns around and says so are they - good joke. The woman serving in the cafe today told me she'd studied Fine Art. Well, we all know that doesn't mean she's going to be a professional artist. Isn't art college just training for being a waitress? More tragically than her failure to 'make it', she doesn't even have the time to go to exhibitions because she has kids, so she informed me when I asked her if she'd been to the Paolozzi show at the Whitechapel Gallery. I should have congratulated her for not taking kids to exhibitions, from which they should all be banned, obviously. Along with tourist clutter (what are they doing in London? Why is this city so popular? Honestly, they have no more guilt about enjoying an environment populated by desperate peasants struggling to survive, never mind grow, in the shadow of gentrification, property speculation, high-rise corporate social cleansing and wage slavery than they would visiting a third world (sorry, 'developing' country)) squawking kids are a nuisance in galleries.

So she's an artist. So is the guy I talk to over a coffee outside. I was reminded of the time when I used to DJ, the joke then being 'Everyone's a DJ'. The world, never mind just London, is filled with artists. If any worry about not 'making it', they're mad, sadly deluded. Art first and foremost, as you know, is a hobby, a passion, to varying degrees. But I won't blather on about that. The internet's clogged with advice columns advising artists to do what they do for the love of it, without expectations. That's all for now. Ta-ta.