The children’s book Old Hat, New Hat, tells the story of a bear who decides to buy a new hat.
Each one the bear tries doesn’t seem quite right – one’s too silly, another too red, a third too wrinkly, on and on it goes, but then, amid the pile of rejected hats, there’s the perfect fit – the old hat. “Just right,” says the bear and walks off.
Such a simple philosophical idea may have been missed by the art critic Waldemar Januszczak, given he decided to criticise the Charlotte Prodger’s Turner Prize-winning video as “old hat”, adding that he wished people would “stop thinking there is still something avant-garde about film and video”.
Art is not about the format; it is about the meaning. And the Glasgow-based artist’s highly personal account of coming out as gay in rural Scotland is a work that will have meaning to many people in this country and beyond.
Januszczak’s criticism also seems to suggest that a painting – perhaps the oldest hat in the art world, dating back to ancient cave paintings – could not be “avant-garde”. The Scotsman begs to differ and offers its congratulations to a new leading light in Scotland’s arts scene.