Art. And all we need to know
about nothing. Part One.
I was sitting in an armchair, musing about nothing much, when it
came to me like a bullet through the brain: an idea. Only an idea
to end all ideas! The purest minimalism. Art to end all art! What
I can't and will never understand is why no artist has latched onto
this before. (I suppose that this is what separates a genius from
the merely talented.) This idea, since found, stands before my eyes,
open or shut, like a particle-free cosmos: colourless, toneless.
Devoid of any reference points, it has no vanishing points except
The minimalist artists have always talked up their little bits
of work with lots of verbal nonsense. But, my big idea makes their
extraordinary explanations seem quite sensible and, therefore, irrelevant.
What has gone before is now blown away. Take the Russian bloke who
painted “The White Square”. Nice idea, but he spoilt
the moment he picked up his brush. At that moment he became a common
house painter, since the man who paints a wall white obviously paints
white squares. Take “The Bare Canvass”. Better, but
we have to mark this down as unoriginal too. Didn’t the foolish
artist realise that every hobbyist starts by placing a bare canvass
on an easel, before ruining the work completely by adding paint
and brushing away like a poor imitation of a demented Van Gogh.
Then, there was the Italian who shredded his canvass with a sharp
knife. Dear oh dear, everyone knows that violence never solves anything.
The film “Blue”. Yes, good try, but the sky has been
doing this for ages and so much better. The most recent attempt
has been the silent orchestra idea. Here the artist made the very
stupid mistake of including the musicians. Honestly! You could hear
the coughing, spluttering, breathing, creaking of the chairs, et
cetera. It was a disaster. So, and about time too, we come back
to my idea.
I give you all “My Big Idea”. I share it with you,
because that’s the sort of person I am. Here it is:
No everything. Nothing.
Now that is what I call minimalist!
Just think! I can have simultaneous exhibitions at every major
gallery throughout the world. No toil. No transport costs. No problems.
At least, none that I haven’t solved already. For instance,
some cynic might pipe up with “Yes! But can he paint?”
So, before the opening night I will have to insist on painting the
gallery walls myself. Give me a big brush and a bucket of grey emulsion
and I’ll have it done in a jiffy. I don’t mess about!
The I’ll be able to answer any such idiotic questions with
“Of course I can paint; who do you think painted these walls?”
The there’s the problem of titles. Dealt with. I’m doing
them thematically and in sequences of three. Why? Easy. Because
it always works in jokes. Here are some examples:
Untitled. More Untitled. Even More Untitled.
What. What’s That. What’s That To You.
God. God Knows. God Knows What.
No. No Missing Picture. No Missing Picture Here Either.
Gray. Gray Wall. Gray Wallpaper.
Grey. Grey Mat. Grey Matter.
Unconscious Thoughts. Unconscious Thoughts About Something. Unconscious
Thoughts About Something Not Worth Thinking About.
I can reel them off in my sleep. Of course, they’re meaningless,
and I’d rather let each finished work speak for itself by
being untitled. But, between you and me, without sticking to the
two by eight inch titles up on the wall, how would the punters know
where the pictures are?
Don’t worry! I’ve got it all planned. At the exhibitions
I’ll have a team of attendants trained and ready. If they
spot someone interested in a particular piece they will hop over
and ask them what they think of it. If the buyer says “It
reminds me of my early childhood,” or something equally stupid,
the attendant will charge them 500 quid. If, on the other hand,
the response is “I don’t think anything of it. It is,
after all, absolutely nothing,” well, then this person has
shown a profound understanding of the work and has a true appreciation
of the piece. Since nothing has been added the art has been the
invention of the artist only. Therefore, two thousand pounds! One
more thing, if a buyer, having bought his picture, ostentatiously
starts to walk to the exit with his arms extremely wide apart, one
of my team will intercept him in order to charge him an extra thousand
pounds. This is because he has obviously chosen an extra large painting.
In art, as in life, size matters!
There it is, then. All I’ve got to do is go to the posh radical
galleries in London and convince them about my idea. Should be a
doddle! Have I your support? Please send any donations to Dave Patchett,
51 Egdmont Road, Hove, BN3 7FN. Only I’m a bit short. For
the train fare.