Friday 3 October 2008


All writers have tics. Me, I'm a qualifier - my texts are littered with kindas, sortas, maybes and almosts. In print copy I ruthlessly hunt them down and eliminate them; my online voice is probably closer to my spoken conversation.

The writers at Watch This Scape are very fond of 'nice', and variations upon a theme of 'crazy'.

John Hurrell's word of the year would appear to be 'muscular'

"Karaka II (1980) is unusually large for Walters, being particularly muscular in its organisation of pulsing korus, and with their bulbs being especially large."

"Of the nine works ... the black on white paintings are the best, partly because Sara Hughes had a coloured palette similar to Heaphy’s, so that ‘look’ is starting to look now like a Gow Langsford brand, and also because formally they are more muscular anyway."

"Braddock’s wiry anaemic freckled back presented this way has its own muscular eroticism."

"They are intimate works, not muscular but gorgeously delicate."

"Their works had nice muscular scale matched with intriguing ideas."

"Her placement of two panels side by side similarly creates peculiar tensions where the suggested patterns avoid a strident dynamic and remain anaemic, circumnavigating the muscular."

"They combine to look thick and muscular, as if drawn by say Richard Serra."

And from a review of Lisa Crowley's current show, which appeared in my feedreader this morning but has disappeared from the blog: "their muscular scale, all being 1234 mm high and between 1386 and 1946 mm wide".


Cheryl Bernstein said...

An intellectual form of "grunty", perhaps?

Courtney Johnston said...

It's fun to sub 'grunty' in for muscular in those sentences ... 'circumnavigating the grunty', for example.

The sentence that keyed me into the trend was that first description of the Walters - it's so ... virile, shall we say?

Anonymous said...

A muscular post ...

John Hurrell said...

Good comments,Bo3.Fair criticism. I was being lazy and should have at least reached for my thesuarus.

I think it would be reductive to think of my efforts in 'masculinist' terms. Which obviously is what you were getting at but didn't articulate. It is about the bodily experience when the work is before you. Its spatial dynamics. There is nothing wrong with what I was actually saying in those examples - only I should have at least been more inventive in my expressinon.

Courtney Johnston said...

Hey JH - nice to hear from you.

It's funny, I hadn't actually thought of your use of 'muscular' as 'masculinist' - as Cheryl pointed out, it could just as easily be 'grunty', or good old-fashioned 'strong'. It was more that your description of the Walters caught my eye (I don't know if you meant it to have such sexual overtones, but that sentence just plain throbs) and then the word started jumping out at me.

And as you note, no criticism of your criticism was intended - after a week of heavy duty editorial work I was just musing on writerly habits.

Anonymous said...

It is true that is is easy to get lazy, it happens to everyone.
this thread reminds me of a Mark Amery review last year, on reading it I cracked up at the use of the word aspire in at least 10 places in one article (on aspiring young artists Eve Armstrong and Sarah Jane Parton)
...i began to think it was a silly in-joke, but I'm sure Mark aspired towards something else!

Cheryl Bernstein said...

"Braddock’s wiry anaemic freckled back presented this way has its own muscular eroticism."

I thought this one was a bit pervy. But not as bad as Walters' "especially large bulbs". It's been a long wet winter indoors: maybe some fresh air would do JH some good?

Courtney Johnston said...

I can't resist noting that the Walters was "inserted" into the show.

And stopping now ....

John Hurrell said...

Jeez,what grubs!