21 August 2014

On Discrimination in Art

As we all know art is meant to inspire thought. Negative, positive or sublime thoughts. Art is an antique looking glass - what you see is a mirror of what you think, or the way you choose to view the world. Noone knows the artist's intent behind a work.

Either one is drawn to a work of art or one is not. I wonder if there's such a thing as "good" or "bad" art? All seeing is relative. A work of art might be poorly executed but does that make the work "Bad?" - Art is an expression of feeling however imperfect it may be, and might I remind you all that we live in an imperfect world. Now, unto another topic: Discrimination in Art.

We were at an exhibit last month. Works of a German female painter, whose art depicts black women in hats and other such fancies. Naturally we were keen on knowing more about the artist behind the brush. As it turns out the artist has no connection at all with the black culture. She doesn't even have one black/ethnic friend, moreover, she has never even visited the African continent or the West Indies.

In the end Barbara von Enger said to her "I adore the African/Caribbean influence in your art" - Her response was "It's just a trend, darling. I add a bit of African/Caribbean elements to rev up my art when things are dead, like Picasso did."
The way she said this was so dis-respectful. It saddened us but not for too long. Barbara von Enger, the brave soul that she is, told her: One ought to respect cultures. Without them one wouldn't have anything to "rev up" one's art. Had you seen her face - I thought she had swallowed a fly!

Yes, Picasso did have his African period. In fact he was introduced to African masks by Matisse. Take a good look at Picasso's work and you'll see a huge difference in his work prior to his African period. What I find most disturbing is this: When a black/ethnic artist paints his or her own culture the caucasian art world immediately deem this work as being "Too ethnic or simply "Bad" or too "Urban" or "primitive". Indeed there are good examples where this is not the case, however, it is so in the majority of cases. When an ethnic person re-creates his/her culture it's deemed as "primitive", "overly colourful", "raw" or "unsophisticated".....

Take this example by Barbara von Enger: All female figures in my art have long, graceful necks, like my mother, my granny, and my great-grandmother, and naturally this shows up in my art.

One day, at an art exhibition, private viewing of my works, a well-known German art critic told me that I stole the long neck idea from Picasso. I told her NO. Picasso was the one who was inspired by African masks - and almost all African masks have long necks, and that I am of Caribbean/African origin. My history has a great influence on my art. I paint only that which is in me. Naturally she was taken aback. A month later I did indeed send her a book on the history of Africa and its art. This is what I call a delicate form of discrimination, my lovelies. Not to worry, we are here to raise the banner and break down the walls of prejudice.

20 August 2014

Brooming Racism

Yesterday, we received a message in the comments section, which reads as follows: Who do you all think you are, you black people? What is currently happening in America is for a reason, it shows that you Blacks have no power over yourselves and society, and your women ( Shala Monroque and Barbara von Enger) , need the old white men to bring them forward into the world of fashion and art.

Is this a good example for the black community, to show young girls that the only way forward is to find a white sugar daddy, live on the dole, make nasty rap songs, like the blacks in America, Beyonce, her husband, and the black gang? Hello, you over there. No wonder you can't get any further, you slaves of society, without education and without civilization. Learn from the European how to be civilised. And I don't know why VOGUE ITALY has taken up with VOGUE BLACK. It's only to margin in on the down and out blacks who read fashion magazines. Someone must wipe you niggers out or bring back SLAVERY. No more primitive art like Basquait.

Please see Barbara von Enger's comments on the subject below:
I cannot speak on Shala Monroque as I do not know her well enough to make comments on her behalf, however, she has always been gracious in my presence. Warm, radiant and oozing golden like the fruits of the West Indies. Her private life is of no interest to me and it shouldn't be your interest either. Or are you in jealousy?

"Civilisation" - what might that be? Are you "civilised" when you sit on the loo? It seems to me that you have an enormous amount of self-hate. By degrading one culture/race of people so openly shows that you have yet to learn "respect". Racism is not like a dish of vegetable soup - racism is a poison. It is a form of discrimination. Do you not have anything more worthwhile to do with your time than being hateful? Hate eats away your hair - hate makes one ill - is this your goal for the future? To leave a smoke of hate for others to inhale in your wake? You are infecting the world, my dear!

On Art and my spot in the art world: I have been active in the art world as a painter for at least 20 years. Not because you hadn't heard of my name prior doesn't mean I did not exisit. So for the record allow me to make some points clear to you and the public. I am formally trained in art and have been drawing since I was five. My mother was an artist. She first taught me to draw on textile and on paper. After I left university I had issues with galleries as they weren't terribly keen on having a Black artist, but I did not allow this to hinder me, instead it enpowered me and I started a gallery ( Canvas Art ) with three of my girlfriends from school - Institute Le Rosey, since then I have been selling my art internationally.

I have never been with a gallerist although I have had several offers from leading galleries worlwide. I am happy with my art and how things are growing at this stage of my career. It has taken hard work, perseverance, to reach the pretty spot at which I am sitting. I am not at this spot because of an "Old white Man" - your language is filthy.

"Slaves of society" - we are all slaves of this society, my dear, are we ever free as human beings? We are born to be free, but because of fuckwits like you it is almost impossible to grow healthy and strong against the constantly spinning wheel of racism. "Learn from European civilisation" - NO. We can be inspired by other cultures but might i remind you that WE have our own BLACK CULTURE. "Someone must wipe you niggers out" -- that is quite impossible, dear, to wipe us out one would have to wipe out more than half of world culture, and where would the rest of the world be?

We are ancient peoples. "Primitive Art" - there is no such thing as "Primitive art" - as that implies a lack of formal training, and primitive is quite a negative word in my school books. Here's an example: We were all taught to walk - by our mothers - and we all walk without even thinking of why/who taught us to walk - we don't even recall our first, formal lesson in learning to walk from our parents/elders, but we do it with ease and grace. It's the same in Art. Art is about breaking down barriers, and building new ones. My art is very individualistic, I do not make art for the likes of you, racist swines, or for anyone else for that matter. I paint from the WOMB. For myself, and only for myself. If someone is drawn to my work - I appreciate and value it - only those with an individualistic view on life tend to collect my works.

"Nasty rap Songs" - You don't have to love our music - artists create from the gut ( or the womb). Why don't you go and find your calling?
Actually I adore the nasty, because it tends to be more authentic than the "Civilised" - I am happy that a handful of young black artist see me as inspiration because I have managed to find a place for myself in Art by being ME. Not by being what the society wishes me to be. I am Black. That much is obvious. Most importantly I am an ARTIST. A word on Vogue Black: "Margin in on down and out blacks?" -- Life is such that sometimes we are up and other times we are at the opposite end of up, however, we love what VOGUE Black is doing. Breaking down the colour barries in FASHION and ART.

Barbara von Enger's powerful words, dear readers. To be continued.