Thursday, 13 August 2009

Fabiola complaint

Following my blog titled: 'What makes art ART?' (21 May), where I grumbled about the Fabiola exhibition Marta made the sensible suggestion that I tell the National Portrait Gallery what I think about it. So I have and this is my letter to them. I am hoping to get a reply and if I do I will post it here for your amusement. The important thing to me is that I feel better for having written it and I will stop fuming about it.

I have always enjoyed my visits to the National Portrait Gallery which have often been made at lunchtimes or when I've been on the way to somewhere else. The NPG has become part of my cultural life. I have nearly always been favourably impressed with the standard of craftsmanship and appreciate being able to drop in on Henry VIII and people currently in the public eye on the same visit.

So for the first time I have to write and say how disappointed I was with Francis Alÿs' exhibition 'Fabiola'. I find the accompanying leaflet justifying the exhibition both pretentious and incomprehensible. This quote just sums it up for me 'By installing it in the National Portrait Gallery, he solicits the kinds of aesthetic and historical questions typically addressed to Old Master artworks, questions, pertaining to authorship, iconography, function, originality and uniqueness.' I'm sorry, but this strikes me as a load of old baloney considering that the content of the exhibition is a job lot of amateur paintings collected from junk shops and they don't rate such high blown praise.

The leaflet mentions that this installation has also been exhibited in New York and Los Angeles so I can only assume that a good number of art curators in the western world have been collectively conned into thinking this is material worth throwing good money at.

This experience won't stop me from visiting your fine gallery but I will be prepared to question future exhibits more in the future than I have in the past.

Post script written on 24 September: The exhibition has now closed and I never did receive a reply. I wonder if my complaint was even read by anyone - I suspect not.