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My Kid Could Paint That.

April 18, 2011

Fascinating and provocative programme on the BBC recently. It raises the classic questions about art, ‘What is Art?’ and why certains artists of the 20th/21st century who are generally scape goats for the ‘modern art is crap’ jibe like Tracey Emin, Jackson Pollock. What’s causing the ruckus is 4 year old Marla whose so called ‘abstract expressionist’ paintings sell for up to $100,000 and bear a similarity to the stereotypical abstract expressionist paintings of generally Western art but because she’s an infant, they hold none of the knowing pretention of adult painters. Is this what is so interesting about abstract expressionism?- that artists like Pollock have retained a child-like freedom and wild abandon with their approach to the canvas and the medium?

It was clear from the programme that what is important about such work are the ideals which the viewer chooses to throw on to them, even the damning critique aired on the US’s ’60 minutes’ was an adult’s ball of assumptions that she could only draw a conclusion from using all her lifetime’s information. Again, what’s so freeing about Marla’s work is how it makes people feel, whether they bring connotations of childhood or spirituality or pure aestheticism to it is all individual and completely up to them.

The only thing I could see that people had in common about the way they experienced Marla’s paintings was jealousy! A sad yearning for more innocent days, no restraints of time/money/other people/education they are unable to express themselves with the ignorant bliss! The only thing we can be sure of is that Marla has no personal interest in money or fame or the art market with all it’s entrapments.

My own answer to ‘What is Art?’ is a simple retort to those who criticise artists, who display their jealousy that certain people are making megabucks out of creating ‘stuff’ by saying incredulously ‘Why is that Art? I could have done that!’

‘Well you didn’t. They did. So there’

It’s silly to get worked up with how much money and attention some artists can get jsut becasue certian viewers don’t appreciate them, surely there are more things to stress about?! I think that Marla’s story exposes how ridiculous people can be.

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