Saturday, April 26, 2003

It is very easy to criticise gay businessman Mr Ivan Massow - people have sneered at his attempts to enter politics (he famously accompanied Mrs Thatcher on one occasion), before switching over to Labour. He resigned from the ICA before making a grandiloquent "All Modern Art is Crap and The Emporer isn't Wearing Any Clothes" speech. He said Tracy Emin couldn't think her way out of a paper bag. He has also been accused of being a shameless self-publicist, boring, inarticulate and lucky. These are probably from people who are jealous.

So this latest entry in the Massow canon is very fitting. The Guardian are showcasing a naked "diptych" of him - painted by Jonathan Yeo over a period of 18 months, inbetween which Massow lost three stone. The title of this piece is "Being Geri Halliwell".

How should it be viewed? A picture of an attractive middle-aged man (as wank/fantasy fodder), furthering Massow's reputation as a rich pretty-boy (and therefore the UK's ideal Alpha Gay Male - that makes me a Delta Male incidentally). As a wonderful work of "proper art" that required actual talent to create, and a testament to Massow's ICA attack? An "ironic" statement about our celebrity-obsessed, show-and-tell society? Or another attempt to raise his er... profile?

The answer is probably all of the above. And while a) I admit to fancying Ivan Massow inspite of his connections with the hunting set and b) the picture is quite artistic, the multiple postmodern interpretations and use of the self as art/commodity make the whole excercise something that Tracy Emin should be quite proud of herself.

My friend Lawrence's pictures of Ivan were almost included in The Guardian article, but were pulled at the last minute. They're here in case you're interested.

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