I must thank b Gallery (sic) for spamming me again. Apparently they’re devastated and in the depths of despair because I have “not taken advantage of [their] invitation.” I also found a beloved pet bunny boiling in my kitchen, though that may be unconnected. If they hadn’t reached out to me in this way, I would never have bothered checking out their website and I would have been deprived of some much needed belly laughs this week.
Because whose work do b Gallery sell in their “Fine Art” (again, sic) section? Well, I spoiled it in the title. Only ROLF FUCKING HARRIS and DAVE LEE TRAVIS, MOTHERFUCKER. And some other people who all paint in the same sort of figurative 1980s lowbrow novel cover I-use-oil-paints-so-I-must-be-a-proper-artist style. Paintings of dogs, sexy young ladies, (NB: imagine this latter phrase in a lecherous old man voice), yachts, lighthouses, that kind of shit. No sexy young dogs or dogs sailing yachts, though. Gap in the market, there. The only work of The Hairy Cornflake’s that isn’t obviously a Ringo Starr-esque bit of Photoshop filter fuckery is apparently done in homage to Robert Palmer’s seminal 80s pop video celebration of sexy young ladies who also look a bit like high-end sex dolls, Addicted to Love. Avant garde! It’s appropriation of mainstream media tropes, like Christian Marclay’s Cock! I mean Clock!
Unfortunately it turns out b Gallery has a strict apartheid system. Ordinary painters of pets and sexy young ladies (but never sexy young ladies kept as pets, you fiend, this is a decent site for decent people), even if these Fine Artists have been “spotted” and “invited” by a “talent spotter”, are not admitted to the upper echelons where elite contemporary artists like Dave Lee Travis and Ringo Starr deploy their MS Paint skills with devastating insight. No, these lesser Fine (or less fine) Artists are obliged to pay a sum that b Gallery doesn’t specify up front in order to become a “member” of the directory.
Talk about taking advantage… Oh, I’ve got a member for you, right here.
Did Rolf and Dave have to pay an annual subscription for their “free” showcase and “free” e-mailout, like all these other Winsor & Newton monkeys who got talent spotted? In any case, I’d like somebody at b Gallery to tell me how it’s possible to spot something that doesn’t exist. It’s quite a feat. Maybe they just use those nudie airport scanners to see through peoples’ clothes and into their wallets, where their main qualifications and talent evidently lie.
Incidentally, something isn’t free if you’ve paid for it, even if you’ve done so indirectly. I know it’s easy to get confused about the subtle differences between such complex and abstruse concepts as “free” and “paid for”, but luckily I’m here to set b Gallery and everyone else straight. If you pay for it, it isn’t free. If it’s free, you don’t pay for it. If you’re a professional artist, you get paid to make and show your work, or somebody buys it from you. If you’re a hobbyist, you pay to do your hobby and good luck to you. I hope you enjoy yourself and give yourself a lot of pleasure by engaging in your hobby (no, you filthy beggar, not that kind of pleasure. b Gallery is a decent gallery, a b gallery). But I’m afraid nobody really thinks your art is any good, except for your mum and that woman from accounts with the centre parting and the wonky eyes. And your mum’s just being nice about it because she’s your mum, anyway.
Of course I’m totally flattered and gratified that a b Gallery talent spotter spotted my talent, and they invited me to join even though I’ve never done a fucking painting in my life except at school or for fun because I work mainly in video, installation and performance, and I’ve done so for over a decade. They invited me despite the fact that I’ve written extensively– and indeed I am something of an activist against– parasitic businesses that exploit the desperation and naiveté of aspiring artists. So, overall, some excellent research on their part before they decided to try and pump me for money using crude pressurising sales techniques and psychological judo that obviously works on some of the dimmer bulbs operating in the realm where people are pleased to call themselves artists. These pay-to-play vanity galleries are really not much more advanced in the internet bottom feeder ecosystem than Nigerian email scammers. At least the Nigerians are entertaining. “Dear Sir or Madam Ms Gantry, I am Amfrom Ngeria, duaghter of late ambadasor to United States of England who recently pass away and am willing deposit you $560,000 when you joining b Gallery with such famouses as Mr Rolf Harris and Dame David L. Travis.”
What does that irritating lower case “b” stand for, anyway? Honestly I could sit here all day offering cogent, insulting and obscene suggestions, but I’ll leave that to you instead, dear readers.