Tom Ellis, The Dogs (2010)

The first words which spring to mind are of course ‘dogs’ and another beginning with F. Whichever order you put them in will depend on your attitude to the animals and act in question. But either way, it first reduces the painting to a cheap joke at the expense of painting itself.

Although there seems to be another picture here. Something in the incline of the canine heads hints at romance. Disengaged from the waist down, this could also be a human couple, sharing the view of a sunset perhaps. We can see ourselves here surely.

Either dogs are more refined than we give them credit for or we are no better in our relationships. It is still a joke, but now appears to be a better one.

The greyness is funnier too. Two isolated figures in a landscape might also have been Romantic with a capital R. But those wishing to project their souls onto this scenery will have to admit to a certain lack of drama and colour in their lives.

And given the activity shown here and the possible love between two sentient beings, boringness is a nice touch. But there are shades of grey. The sky is light. It is quite pretty, really.

The Dogs can be seen in Newspeak: British Art Now Part Two at Saatchi Gallery. You can read a review by Laura McLean-Ferris in the Independent, here. Three stars seems about right. Meanwhile, my review for Culture24 can be found here.

Newspeak: British Art Now runs  until April 27 2011. For more details see the Gallery website.

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