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Days like these, contemprary art exhibition atTate Britain

From: Nancy Walters
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 10 March 2003


Jim Lambie, a Scottish colourist, has taped a big floor bringing colour into this mausoleum of British art. A David Bachelor electric totem pole is placed in the dazzle of mosaic brightness. Before that they've dumped a heavy lump of Whiteread. Question:Describe what you feel when you see this art. A:At best a little aesthetic twitch, at worst immanent objectified death.

Inside the main hall Dexter Dullwood paints superficial attractive decorations to provoke conversations about imagined places. Ian Davenport has dripped the walls, and the same question as before is answered. Another room, Paul Noble enlarges a toon from Mad Magazine and Gill Carnegie paints paintings terrified of joy, beauty, or sincerity.

Some common photos are around and there are art school pieces in coloured pencil. In all places the stench of education is present, of thought, of how to avoid boredom, and nowhere can one look at something without the artist looking over ones shoulder whispering their meanings.

In the final room a Peter Doig, absurdly valuable but why not, and vapid as it intends to be. George Shaw's Victorian landscapes at least have a subject at the centre of their empty rhetoric. I cannot face the dark rooms of videos, of multiscreens of nothing happening, of pop music over reality. That's it.

And these artists are probably the best around now. Their talent is as apparent as their failure to make between them one desirable work of art, or one that the world would miss. They, with great intelligence and determination, produce nothing.

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