It's a few years since a certain vodka company launched itself on the contemporary art scene, blowing like a sea breeze through the most fashionable private views, leaving a whiff of grapefruit and cranberry in its wake. Their involvement began in New York in 1985 by commissioning Andy Warhol to make a picture that was instantly both a brilliant advertising tool and the basis of an intriguing corporate collection.
The collection has grown at the rate of a painting a week ever since, each with the bottle or the vodka somewhere in evidence. However, About Vision, sponsored by Absolut Vodka, at Oxford's Museum of Modern Art is not an exhibition about clever advertising. The subtitle, "New British Painting in the 1990s", is a clearer indicator of what's on show; the only Absolut picture is a newly commissioned work by Chris Ofili in his favoured medium of oil paint, glitter and elephant dung.
Ofili is an able painter, energetic and often pleasingly decorative in the best sense of the word, but I have yet to hear a convincing explanation as to why he paints with dung when Windsor & Newton have spent generations making perfectly good paint. The point, I suppose, is challenging convention, which in different guises is the common theme of the exhibition.
There are 19 painters on show, all under 40, and mostly successful in a Saatchi sort of way. There's some good work, notably from Peter Doig and Gary Hume, and various brands of elegant minimalism from Callum Innes, Simon Callery and Mark Francis. Though it's a mixed and rather muddled bag, this exhibition offers an excellent opportunity to take a look at what's been going on in the decade thus far.
EYE ON THE NEW
Double Vision is less New British Painting in the Nineties than Old British Painters in their Eighties. Leonard Rosoman and Norman Blamey are celebrated at the Fine Art Society.
Double Vision, The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London W1 (0171- 629 5116)Reuse content