I went to an art exhibition this weekend (because I love art and more than that, I love being able to ram my culturally superior exploits down other people’s throats when they ask about my weekend) and while the exhibition was incredibly enjoyable, I was suddenly struck by an epiphany (it didn’t hurt, I was wearing padding) that challenges the popular belief that art is pretentious. Here it is, my epiphanal strike: It’s not art that’s pretentious, it’s the pompous arses who go to see it!
I know what you’re thinking. Technically, because I too attend art galleries, I must be including myself in this grand sweeping statement. Let us clarify that there are, of course, many fine people who attend these spectacles who aren’t the least bit annoying or affectatious but if I wrote about how “nice” people were, you lot would get bored. No-one dares say it but it’s way more fun to join in the scorn and derision of those around us and revel in feeling vastly superior in some way. It’s not wrong, it’s called “social humour biasing” and was documented in a study by Dr Noteffenriel. Ok, I totally made that up but didn’t you feel more comfortable about laughing at blog posts based on a scathing view of society, just for a moment?
I would also like to say that yes, there are indeed artists out there who have their heads shoved so firmly up their bottoms that they can taste the reverse of their own tonsils but that’s true of a certain number of people in most professions. You can’t blame the art that they produce for being pretentious, it is what it is. It’s the unnecessarily verbose gallery visitors who give misguided voice to these works of creativity in the same way a bimbo socialite gives anthropomorphic voice to her pet pooch – “ickle Fi-fi doesn’t wike tap water, she onwy wikes Evian! She wuvs it when we dress in matching outfits, isn’t that right Princess?” Bleurgh. All the poor dog is actually thinking is “food, poo, sleep, food, PIGEON!”. Perhaps the artist was thinking the same. None of us will ever really know.
An artist does whatever it is they do because they feel a need to do it, in much the same way I need to write and will continue to do so even if my only readers are my mother and a highly trained therapist. Sometimes they have an idea or a story that they want to tell but most of the time they don’t really have any crazy deep-rooted society warping agenda, they just felt the need to put some green paint on a pink telephone and stick it in the middle of an empty room. Probably out of boredom or quite possibly because they only had green paint left and there wasn’t a hardware store open at 03:00am in order to buy orange.
The sad thing is, certain over-inflated cretins feel the need to search for meaning and complexity in places where there isn’t necessarily any and flood the atmosphere with their fetid hot air. I love hearing about situations where these buffoons are presented with abstract works to deconstruct and they wax lyrical for hours on end, regurgitating the type of flowery sentences that usually only occur after a few good tabs of acid, only to be left choking on their free wine when it’s revealed that the artist was an elephant, or that the “painting” is actually something a toddler did with the overflow from its used nappy. Much embarrassed faces from the pretentious farts who declared it the revolutionary works of a troubled genius, much laughter from those in the cheap seats who just liked the pretty shapes and colours.
Art is many things to many people. It is something to be enjoyed, it is something to be treasured, it is something to be admired and sometimes, it’s something to cover a crack on the bathroom wall. Sadly, it is also now something for people to stand in front of while they pour forth a steaming pile of random adjectives in competition with the smug faced ego next to them. These people are ruining art galleries for the rest of us.
At the recent exhibition I went to, I read the first little plaque right by the entrance where the artist (Grayson Perry, in case you were wondering) gave a humorous introduction to his collection and advised his audience not to search for silly hidden meanings because there really wasn’t one. Thanks Grayson, tell it like it is so we can just get on with looking at the funny pretty things you made. In silence. Using our eyes… Oh dear. Sorry Grayson, you tried but it was to no avail. The arty farts were there in droves, eager to experience the exhibition. At full volume. With their mouths.
“Ah, look Timothy, see, what the artist has done here is that they have used a citric yellow in juxtaposition with the cerulean blue to create a potato waffle of incandescent visually orgasmic lampshades. This is to convey to the audience that we are mighty orbs of strawberry jelly in the pattern of life’s washing up bowl.”
“I see what you mean Patricia but I would conjecture that in this next piece, there is a small red square of angular feeling where the artist was clearly trying to convey an angry masculine sexuality and power… oh, that’s the fire alarm.”
It’s all very well to have differing thoughts and interpretations about what one sees in these places and heaven forbid that I should tell you what something is supposed to mean or how it should be appreciated but please, can we keep the verbal farts to a minimum and perhaps leave the competition to see who can be the loudest, most obnoxious talker of toot at the door? Some of us are trying to appreciate the interesting/beautiful/witty things before us and it’s difficult to see through the haze of audible manure.
Art is not pretentious, art is what it is. Even if I don’t like it, I don’t hate it. It’s the pretentious farts who leave me craving earplugs and a chainsaw. Maybe I could turn that into an exhibition… Just don’t bother trying to find a deeply profound meaning, unless you feel like participating in some grisly live performance art!