Tate Modern, London 24 June 2006
While Howard Hodgkin is apparently an abstract painter that insists that he is not, Kadinsky was an aspirant abstract painter whose critics insist that he was not.
Post modern critics (excluding North America) tend to argue that Abstraction is for the birds and that even if an artist declares a painting devoid of representation, the post modern critic will just not buy it.
Laura Cumming in the Observer for example.
Kadinsky claimed that he was the first abstract painter and let’s not quibble since he was certainly right there when theses issues were being discussed for the very first time along with Malevich and others. He gave his works deliberately non representational titles, Improvisation 35, for example.
The Tate has called this show The Path To Abstraction and perhaps for the first time we are able to see the troublesome oarsman that he featured in so many of his paintings from the very beginning when he had a clear representational style and to the very end when he insisted that he did not.
The oarsman often represented by a number of short parallel lines, are often cited by the post modernists as proof that Kadinsky failed to achieve his objective of painting the very first abstract paintings.
The current generation of art criticism is keen to reject abstraction, free of representation, in a way that a musician or an architect would not. Practising artists also have no problem with abstraction, it is just these wretched critics.
Some critics are taller, but they are usually American.
Read also a musicians perspective on Kadinsky, the composer Gerard McBurney writes in the Guardian
Last week Mrs monk was inspired to work in the manner of Howard Hodgkin but this week her painting is likely to move in a different direction. Exit murmurings were decidedly positive and appreciative RECOMMENDED