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Vice Blog

Art Is Shit: The John Squire Edition

Here's a tip if you work at a music magazine. On a slow week – let's say, like the one which started the day Room On Fire came out, and hasn't shown any real sign of abating since – you can always fill your pages with a piece about musicians who've been inspired by JG Ballard. If you ran that last week, try writing one about musicians who make art, instead. I've written three of them, and I'm happy to admit that they were all complete shit.


Pete Doherty once threw a bunch of blood on a canvas! The Maccabees once made a video or something! Bang that out at around 1,000 words and it counts as a feature. And when there's padding out to be done, who else is there to call but John "I've always thought of my guitar as a sort of noisy paintbrush, really" Squire?

For about 15 minutes in 1996, when I was in love with Be Here Now and trying to convince myself that Liam didn't see Ian Brown every time he looked in his coke mirror, John was my favourite Stone Rose. In fact, he was more than that – he was my hero.

And then John left the Stone Roses, and he was no longer the best man in the world at making a guitar sound like a waterfall. He was the man who painted a load of Beach Boys song titles on a surf board and wouldn't stop insisting that it was "art".

These are some paintings from John's new exhibition, Celebrity, which is yet another "brief respite" from the "endless bombardment" of "celebrity images" that beleaguers our society "today". He says this one is of the famous pop star Rihanna, but I'm not so sure. I've been staring at this cross-eyed for half an hour now and I'm still (relatively) flaccid.

In all seriousness, John's chosen to depict the celebrities in strange patterns and small, colourful jewels because he's bored of seeing Lindsay Lohan's face in the news every day. I can appreciate that, but if the essence of all art is communication, I'm struggling to make out what he's really trying to say about Lindsay Lohan here. That she's a dirty mess?


Then again, if the real essence of all art is distraction, at least pieces like this one distract me from asking myself why I'd even care what John Squire thinks about Lindsay Lohan in the first place. Look at the pretty colours! What's John saying about Gaga? That she's an explosion of pigs and small purple bears? I don't know about you, but I hate it when celebrities resort to slagging each other off through the medium of fuzzy felt.

Yeah, David Beckham's quite nice, but he's not the sort of thing I'd feel comfortable hanging on my bedroom wall.

Pah! I can almost make out a silhouette on this one. You're dumbing down, John.