The American artist who made this prizewinning work is 37 years old (nearly too old to be an “emerging artist”!) and he’s based in Keithville, Louisiana. He has developed a unique canvas-based practice in which he uses his tongue to apply pigment with a methodical understanding of seriality that leads to a rich columnar vocabulary of mark-making. His name is Brent and he looks like this:
Brent recently won first prize in the Chimpanzee Art Competition run by the Humane Society of the United States and voted for by the public. The entrants have all formerly been used for medical research, kept in unsuitable zoos, or rescued from abusive “acting” or “performing” situations. They now live out their retirements in various sanctuaries, where some of them paint better than a number of Debut Contemporary’s clients. Their paintings will soon be auctioned on eBay to raise money for charity. The chimp paintings, I mean, not paintings by Debut Contemporary’s clients. No sane person wants to buy their paintings.
Great “serious artist” photo posing, Brent. Intense, grizzled, macho, very Picasso.
Cheetah won second prize. For his portrait he decided to go for more of a jobbing painter crazy hair and covered in paint bohemian look. It seems like Cheetah’s been trying out Brent’s mouth-painting technique. Either that or he idolises Van Gogh so much that he decided to go bonkers and eat paint like his hero. I advise keeping Cheetah away from razors to prevent the occurence of some hideous mashup of Lust for Life and Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Seriously, I’d be very surprised if Cheetah isn’t a total mentalist given the fact that the poor bastard lived without any chimpanzee contact for nineteen years in a laboratory where he was subjected to over four hundred biopsies. You can read harrowing little biographies for all the artists at the link to the HSUS above. Anyway, here’s Cheetah’s painting which won second prize:
Ripley is a former actor who also had a wretchedly horrible life until he made it into a sanctuary. His work is refreshingly different from the paint-eating school of which Brent and Cheetah are the leading contemporary exponents. He won third prize.
I think you’ll agree that Ripley’s vivacious gestural mark making vigorously and definitively refutes the primacy of the tongue and lips in mainstream Chimpanzee art practice. He’s also mastered the dangerous, edgy, “am I about to attack you with a branch or am I in a creative reverie thinking about a really mind-blowing idea I just had for an art work you wouldn’t even understand” portrait photograph. It’s a classic.
Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to a promising young female artist who, in my opinion, didn’t get the recognition she deserves while her male peers got all the attention. No change there, eh ladies? Patti is pictured above, in her studio in Oregon and examining colour proofs for a limited edition print series. Rolling around in sawdust is not strictly necessary to Patti’s process. She just enjoys it. Patti made this challenging little canvas for the competition:
Churning, Turneresque atmospheric free brushwork in the top half of the painting contests with linear, quasi-calligraphic interventions along the bottom edge with a view to speculatively creating a fresh Feminist alternative to Brent’s almost obsessively controlled and repetitive expressions of male libido. It’s a travesty that Patti didn’t win the competition. As I mentioned previously, the winners were decided by public vote thereby proving yet again that the public know bugger all about art and they should never be allowed to vote for who’s the best artist.