‘You were very quick, didn’t you see the exhibition?…’

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s financial forecast is for bankers to become even more chubby, coins to become ridiculous, and for stocks and shares to become rather slimy to the touch.

Yes, lying in bed this morning (I notice that in American TV shows people don’t seem to like to use the word ‘lying’, to mean reclining or supine, they say ‘laying’ instead – I remember back at school my English teacher shouting at me for saying that, ‘Chickens do the laying!’ he said.) I was thinking, for some reason, about art galleries and I was wondering if there was anything worth looking at locally.
When it comes to current art I am generally pretty hard to impress, and also I’m easily provoked into audible sneering. By the time I crawled stretching and yawning out of my bed I had invented a kind of ‘art quality indicator’ which could be used to judge the aesthetic value of any piece of work, or perhaps that of a whole exhibition…
I decided to call this measurement the Dave Whatt Art Appreciation Index – DWAA Index. Rolls off the tongue nicely doesn’t it? Dwaa! The index itself would comprise a digit, or digits, and a lower case letter; the letter would stand for seconds, minutes, or hours, (s, m, or h), and the digits preceding it for the number of seconds, minutes, or hours that you could happily stand looking at a piece of work in order to absorb all the information, or aesthetic stimulation it had to offer.
As an example, in the local gallery here in Dulltown, probably as part of the 2017 UK City of Culture, there is on show a large pile of what look like various sized stones picked up from a beach somewhere; they are now lying in the middle of the shiny hardwood gallery floor. I went in a couple of days ago and had a look at it; I walked around the pile observing carefully as I went. In retrospect (the DWAA Index wasn’t then available) I think I would have awarded the piece a DWAA Index of 10s – by the start of the 11th second I thought I had squeezed all I could from the stones and I flounced off in the direction of the cafe.
A while back when the gallery had David Hockney’s very large and surprisingly bad paintings of trees on show (DH) I reckon they would have had a DWAA Index of 1m. It took that long to walk through, and not much in the way of pausing for contemplation and appreciation was done on the way.
I suppose the index only really works for art you have never seen before. There are pieces in that gallery I have been looking at and enjoying for years, if all the time I have looked at them could be added up, I must have spent hours staring at each.
A new gallery has fairly recently opened in town and I popped in there a couple of weeks ago to see an exhibition of stuff by something called COUM Transmissions. I probably spent a good ten or fifteen minutes in there, going up and down stairs, and from room to room, but I don’t think I stopped walking once, so each piece of art (if it was art) had a DWAA Index of about 1s. Gosh, it was good to get out of there, you could actually smell the pretentiousness in the air…
So, I’m not sure if one can use my index for a whole exhibition, or whether it is best just left for single pieces; you can get a really bad show with a couple of good things in it, and also vice versa, so I think we’d better just stick with applying it to single works.
It’s usually the small privately owned white-painted trendy galleries that feature work with very low DWAA Indexes, pieces of work in those places often average only about 4s to 6s, but the good thing is that you can get in and out quite quickly and get on with your shopping.
But isn’t it great when you get in a gallery and most of the pieces have an index of 5m or 10m, and over? The trouble is it is mostly old or ancient stuff that keeps you glued that long… Current stuff is so quick!…
Of course this is my personal index – every one of us is different in our taste and appreciation. Why not create your own index? Come on, it’s very easy, and it even makes looking at bad art fun!…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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8 Responses to ‘You were very quick, didn’t you see the exhibition?…’

  1. I do like your Dwaa Index. Very inventive and informative. My Index usually consists of “Ugh” or “Oooh!” lasting anywhere in between 2s and 4m38s. 🙂

    • Dave Whatt says:

      But do you say the ‘Ugh’ or the ‘Oooh’ out loud in the gallery and embarrass your friends?…

      • Oh no, its always muttered under my breath. Generally I’m alone at these excursions anyway, so unless the security guard has any artistic leanings, i doubt uttering my opinions out loud would embarrass anyone!

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Under your breath dear Scribbler?
        I’d have imagined you outside the gallery with a large (but nicely written) sign saying, “All the art in here is Ugh!…”

  2. Dana Doran says:

    Aaaah, pretentiousness….I really like that word. What do art galleries and politicians have in common? Pretentiousness. bwahaha

  3. ktz2 says:

    This brought to mind that ‘avant-gard’ fad of canvases with a single color–black, orange, white, blue, or whatever, with some random words as a title. Those strike me as a big joke played on so called high art patrons, who paid a big pile of cash for them.. . but nice work if you can get it

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Some artist, I forget who, once said, ‘Art is what you can get away with…’ It sounds like it might have been Andy Warhol…
      (My spell checker wanted that to be Andy Warhorse. Ho ho!…)

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