It was a grey, wet day when I took the train from Drammen to the Nationaltheatret station in Oslo, then walked to the waterfront to see the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo's privately owned Museum of Modern Art.
The first thing that caught my eye was in the museum's shop. Described as a, 'modern art pouch', it was a bit like a clutch bag - the sort of thing you might carry your paintbrushes about in. It bore the legend, 'Modern Art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn't'. There's quite a lot of ideas bouncing around in that exchange and whilst it appears to be a piece of clever-dickery, there's something essentially misleading about it. I might come back to that. Meanwhile, if you'll come this way......
'Tile Sculpture #2', part of an exhibition by Matias Faldbakken entitled, 'Effects of Good Government in the Pit'. 'One of Norway's most prominent visual artists', trumpets the exhibition guide. Hmmm.
Faldbakken's 'Flat Box Lithography #3', 'confronting the viewer with the framework and conditions that lie behind today's circulation and distribution of goods'. Hmmm.
Faldbakken's '.....installations that demonstrate the artist's multi-faceted exploration and experimentation within various media'. Hmmm. And, '....various expressions of dissension and countercultural forces that result in ambiguous thematisations of the dilemmas of transgression'. Well, that's enough of Faldbaaken and the catalogue (who writes this stuff?).
'The Murder of Andreas Baader', by Odd Nerdrum. He certainly was the odd one out in this gallery - a phenomenally good figurative artist and his depiction of the alleged murder of Baader (of Baader-Meinhof notoriety) in Germany's Stammheim Prison, with a nod to Carravagio's, 'Crucifixion of St Peter', and its overtones of martyrdom, ruffled a few feathers in Germany especially (Baader's death has never been satisfactorily explained). Banksy was right in saying that, 'art should disturb the comfortable' (as here possibly) but added that it should also, 'comfort the disturbed'. Like the clutch bag, it invites some consideration.
I enjoyed this work in pencil - I didn't note the artist's name but it reminded me of some of the wonderful B&W photographs by Jack Delano of the American railways.
There was a bunch of stuff from the usual suspects, Bacon, Hirst (the heffer and the calf in formaldehyde were just as repellent as the medical specimens in the Teknisk Museum).
David Hockney; 'Two Men in a Shower'. Hockney's one-time muse, Celia Birtwell, was, in the early eighties, an occasional visitor to our print works in Barlby Road, just off Ladbroke Grove. I seem to remember we were going to do a furnishing fabric collection for her - whether it came off or not, I can't recall but, she was quite a character. We hand-printed for a lot of couture fashion houses back then: Jean Muir, Caroline Charles, Betty Jackson, Benny Ong, Yuki and so on. My brother had a Moto-Guzzi California with a semi-automatic gearbox at the time and we would go for lunch to 'The Everest' greasy spoon on Portobello Road. We had only one crash-helmet so, in a gesture of compliance with the law, the luckless passenger would have to wrap a sheet of wallpaper round his head with cut-out eye-holes. We came back after lunch on at least two occasions to find the Fire Brigade rushing up to the fourth floor to put out the fire in the fabric baking oven. Pete, who we would leave in charge of this operation (he sensibly brought his own sandwiches) was so busy reading his newspaper, he wouldn't notice the conflagration developing. It was invariably someone in the old Talbot works across the road who would spot the smoke and call the Brigade.
And then in the evening we might catch Jethro Tull at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park.
Still going strong I see.