Now showing at the Tate Modern until September, is a retrospective exhibition of the work of Danish post-post-modern-neo-futurist-abstract/concrete artist Hotte Scheisse.
Born in the 1950's, in the little-known Parisian suburb of Fromage sur Seine, the result of a one night stand behind a night club in Montmartre between her Polish heroin-addicted mother and a one-legged alcoholic German soldier called Fritz, Hotte's mother later took her "lovechild" to the equally obscure Danish hamlet of Bingenbongen where at the age of just eighteen months her precocious infant exhibited early signs of the artistic genius growing inside when she produced a highly provocative work which she smeared liberally all over the walls of her mother's flat using her own poo.
Miss Scheisse has in the past been universally derided for her fearless, even reckless, interpretation of the artist's perennial dilemna; that of multi-functionally subliminal obsessive-compulsion, centering around her lifelong and passionate devotion to"the meaning - behind, and yet at the same time in front of - the meaning". "I try to push the boundaries between what is real, what was never real, and what was, but is no longer real" she divulged in a recent interview with Guardian art critic, Bogus O'Sham. Indeed this rare and highly original sentiment is born out to good effect in her most important work to date entitled simply "BRICKS" which can currently be viewed at the Tate Modern. As O'Sham puts it so eloquently : "BRICKS", to me, sums up everything that is most challenging in the Modern Art climate of the moment, where the buzzword is "crap", and only the intellectual elite such as myself can hope to fully grasp the philosophical implications of the artist's painstakingly devised and subtly encoded message".
"BRICKS" is displayed in a succession of three rooms, each with a closed door. Upon opening the first door, the viewer is confronted by a small hand-written notice, in black on white card, which bears the legend "198 Bricks" and is placed in a simple plastic photo frame slightly to the left of an apparently randomly scattered pile of bricks. However, this is in fact true. The bricks were randomly scattered. The second, and identical room, is totally empty apart from a very much bolder colour printed notice, in dayglo orange on purple card, which is fixed to the back wall with 3" nails and states boldly "No Bricks". And the third room - equally of identical size to the other two rooms - is likewise totally empty except for a huge rectangular notice stencilled on the floor in lime green lettering on a pink background - with black and yellow arrows radiating outwards in case people are too dense to perceive the obvious - which reveals the artist's masterstroke : "198 Stolen Bricks". Brilliant. Tantalisingly brilliant. A cup that is full, then empty, then full again, but snatched away by the artist.
How achingly, breathtakingly, deceptively simple, to take the viewer's habituated spatial awareness and give it such a firm and enigmatic twist! In fact, in my humble opinion, there is so much raw power contained in this work, (which took seven years, nine months, fourteen days, three hours, twenty-two minutes, and eleven seconds to fully conceptualise, construct, and complete), that those of us in the Modern Art world who are, in their own eyes at least, the arbiters of such things, the true aficionados, the insiders, the ones "in the know", must now re-evaluate all of our preconceptions as to what does, or equally does not, constitute Art. With a big "A". And who would dare to question our judgment?
I will readily confess to being humbled by "BRICKS" when I first viewed it, and each subsequent viewing has left me feeling increasingly humble. In fact I am so impressed with my own humility that I may station myself outside the exhibit for the remainder of this six month retrospective in order to confront the more arrogant members of the ordinary viewing public who fail to grasp the significance of this unquestionable masterpiece. And if anyone dares to even snigger, or worse still mutter "what a load of old bollocks" under their breath, I shall be forced to remind them that they should show more respect for a work of this importance. Or should I say reverence...........
Okay, okay, I'll hold my hands up, "BRICKS" is not a Michelangelo or a Leonardo, but hey - this is the 21st century, it's a Brave New Modern Art World, and the Renaissance masters are so oldschool. Get over it.
PS: Prior to this exhibition, "BRICKS" was privately auctioned to a highly privileged clientele of serious Modern Art collectors, by invitation only, where it was eventually sold to an anonymous bidder for £13.5 million. The artist was later widely quoted as saying "it was worth a helluva lot more than that" before flouncing out of the auction in tears with a mystery companion of indeterminable gender.The anonymous bidder was hotly rumoured to be Charles Saatchi. Watch this space!
Copyright: Dick Twat March 12th 2011 (Associated Press)