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  1. Wealth
April 1, 2009

Art finally eats itself

By Spear's

An exhibition of blank canvases suggests either a post-modern stroke or a juvenile mentality. I’d plump for the latter.

It has gone beyond parody. Just like the fashion designer sending his models naked down the catwalk at the end of Robert Altman’s Pret a Porter, an exhibition with blank canvases on the wall suggests either a brilliant post-modern stroke or a highly juvenile art-student mentality.

I’d plump for the latter, though Merlin Carpenter at Simon Lee Gallery did at least have the theoretically redeeming feature of painting on the canvases during the opening. I didn’t stay long enough to see the art in progress because – oddly enough – there wasn’t enough before that to hold my attention.

The blurb speaks of capitalist speculation and a Mad Ma(r)x future where values are created not just by money. A fine idea, but that’s not terribly much to sustain a show, or rather the fifth iteration of this internationally-plied gimmick. Why eleven unpainted canvases? Is the point that much more significant than with just one?

The gallery will still try and sell these pieces in very much capitalist fashion, making a nonsense (or at least a hypocrisy) of the idea.

Questions of value are of course at the forefront of the mind today, but I just feel that if a G20 rioter were to have smashed the windows of Simon Lee Gallery last night, they would have been more bemused by the blank canvases than enraged or indeed empathetic with his point of view.

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