Originally posted 9/11/2014
I visited Frieze Masters art fair recently and among the inevitably mediocre odds and sods there were more than a few things that caught my eye. Art fairs are always a mixed bag. Generally they’re that big and crammed with stuff that many items ranking both very low and very high on one’s own personal ‘spectrum of awesome’ can be found. As it goes, over the years Frieze Masters has consistently presented me with a large amount of high ranking stuff and this year was no exception.
However, the event has been criticised more than once for being an Abramovician Toys ‘R’ Us (Roman, not Marina). Fair point. Lots of the labels are marked POA to guard against a worldwide shortage of zeroes, but personally I don’t really have a big problem with that. Some things I can afford to buy, some things, like art, I can’t, but someone else can. Sometimes someone will drop a fat wad on a really very nice item and sometimes they’ll blow their load on something really shit and we can all have a good laugh. For me, perhaps because they are so wildly inaccessible, the price tags become irrelevant and can be pretty much divorced from that acute covetousness that overwhelms in the presence of things I find beautiful, enticing & delicious. For whatever reason, I know I can never have it. But I still want it bad.
Visiting Frieze Masters and seeing all that wonderful (and of course some not so much) stuff I can’t help but compare it to my own painting. Art fairs such as this are at the top of the commercial artworld. Needless to say, on this financial plane my paintings do not exist at all. Aside from a couple of weak, disinterested or long forgotten instances I have not tried hard to sell them and certainly do not rely on them as a source of income (shock horror!). Given this, they have no traditional route out of the ‘studio’ and for the mostpart are still sitting there awaiting their fate. Nevertheless for some people they may hold a certain desirability and in a corpoeal sense they are just the same as those things at Frieze Masters – objects made of paint, canvas wood and so on. And whilst it’s clear by comparison that there are qualitative heights I will never scale, by the same token there are also the depths I will avoid plumbing and on an objectively materialistc level my paintings do hold a certain modest quality of their own.
So what am I getting at here? I shall explain: These two things – An alien finance and a common materialism – have brought me to the conclusion that the most sensible and fulfilling thing for me to do would be to give away my potentially desirable but financially irrelevant (and therefore currently largely redundant) paintings for free. Therefore when I decide I’m happy to part with them I plan to make paintings available to anyone who wants them.
My hope is that this will make others happy (everyone likes a freebie) and in a small way give them the opportunity to own a thing they might not otherwise have expected to and maybe offer a little bit of materialistic fulfilment. I also expect it to make me happy that my paintings are going out there and ‘doing’ something rather than sitting in a box their whole life. And finally, by eliminating any misplaced residing concern about making painting a financially viable pursuit I can further shore up my oft repeated assertion that this is an activity undertaken purely for enjoyment and is not qualified by any other marker of success.