Monday, April 25, 2011

Art about tarts

At CNNGo, I discuss Chris Coles and his paintings of the Bangkok demi-monde.

Which in turn got me thinking again about Jonathan Jones and what he said about the distinction between great art and great food; that what distinguishes art is its ethereality, its essential separateness from the banal necessities of being nourished or clothed or sheltered. But Coles’s work succeeds precisely because it engages with those banal necessities, and the things that people have to do to ensure them.

I’m not saying, of course, that a good picture can’t just be a very pretty painting. But think of the impact that the persecution and arrest of Ai Weiwei is having on Hong Kong artists, or the creative inspiration that’s been unleashed by the Arab Spring; the recent attack on Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ photograph (read David Mitchell on the competing artistic visions of Serrano and his detractors) or the anti-BP stunt at Tate Britain. This is art that refuses to be ethereal or transcendent, and is in fact most effective at the point where imagination and reality meet. Not sure what it tastes like, though.


Anonymous said...

He captured you so well.

Tim Footman said...

Indeed. Although in real life, my tongue's not that colour.