Monday, October 31, 2005

Mr Jack Vettriano May Be Sexually Rampant, And His Butler May Sing, But The Biscuit-Tin Artist Has Yet To Prove Himself On The Wobbleboard

The agony of the artist, Mr Jack Vettriano, is quite infectious. Over the years, I have grown weary to the point of exhaustion from reading about the fact that Mr Vettriano, a dauber of crude imagery, has been snubbed by the commissars of our public art collections, while his paintings, in the form of prints, and Marks and Spencers' biscuit tins, have grown ever more popular.
On the level of patriotism, one should be be sympathetic to Mr Vettriano. He hails from Fife, and that is discomfort enough for most men. He portrays himself as a lonely soul, gaining sparse comfort from the broad popularity of his works, or the wealth that they bring.
Most recently, this unfortunate son of Kirkcaldy has been charged with plagiarism. The figures in his most famous work, The Singing Butler, were, it seems, copied from an artists' manual. Mr Vettriano added the beach, while his viewing public brought their own sense of drama to bear on the work. Oddly, the fantasy of dancing on the sands while being serenaded by a butler has captivated thousands of viewers, even those who are not aware that Mr Vettriano grew up in a town where the air smelled of linoleum.
Mr Vettriano is not a versatile artist. His command of the brush is less captivating than, for example, that of Mr Rolf Harris, who is also a better soloist on the wobbleboard.
But we should not be too dismissive, as Mr Vettriano tends to react to the criticism of his work by making bizarre statements. At the weekend, he told his house journal, Scotland on Sunday, that the art world "doesn't like rampant heterosexual behaviour. Somehow," he continued, "they think that it is a bit tawdry, not what real art should be."
This remark reminded me a little of Mr Alfred Hitchcock's regrettable 1972 film, Frenzy, in which a potato merchant strangles the young women of Covent Garden with his tie. There is some unfortunate humour about rape in the film, and a good deal of unnecessary nudity. But, near the end of the picture, as the net closes around the killer, Mr Hitchcock chooses to frame him between the two prints which he has on his wall. The pictures are both by the South African artist, Mr Vladimir Tretchikoff, whose works included Chinese Girl, which is sometimes known as Blue Lady. Mr Tretchikoff was a quite terrible painter, but that did not stop him becoming, by some definitions, the most popular artist in the world, by virtue of the fact that his prints sold at Woolworth's as quickly as the Pick'n'Mix.
Clearly, Mr Vettriano is Mr Tretchikoff's heir. But he should know that rampant behaviour, whether heterosexual or not, is always bad manners.


Learson said...

'An unfortunate son of Kirkcaldy'. He wasnt quite as unfortunate as the town's other famous son, Adam Smith, who, as an infant, was kidnapped by gypsies. Fortunately for Smith (and for free-market economics), he was rescued by his uncle.

dearieme said...

I once watched a wee boy take sweets from the Woolworth's pick-and-mix, give them a good suck and then return them. Does one get to do that with the paintings?