Nonno Panda and L B Chow the Cow, Who Wanted to Become a Fishmonger Artist
One day, wandering along life’s path, I got lost in a dark jungle, unable to find the right way…
Nonno Panda and L B Chow the Cow, Who Wanted to Become a Fishmonger Artist
Despite all her attempts and failures, she never gave up thinking that one day she really would make it so she just kept at it. We never really understood if her tenacity was mainly due to a huge ego or if going back to being a normal housewife and mother scared her more than thinking of herself as a failed artist.
Sometimes in our conversation I did hint that becoming a mother was actually the most creative job in the world but she never quite got it; she was adamant, she preferred giving birth to her creations which had only an overnight gestation – most of her “ brilliant” ideas came at night – rather than nine months.
In one of those creative moments she approached me and ask me to come and see her latest creation. As we walked to the location, she kept telling how much I would enjoy her new work this time as she had found a totally new dimension. “Wow !”, I exclaimed, wondering what might be in store. I must admit sometimes I did like some of her stuff but it was difficult to place it because the materials she used to create her art were not – how shall I put it? – The most orthodox. I pride myself on being a new renaissance animal and I feel we should always encourage new ideas, whatever form or shape they might take and in my humble opinion – I would never consider myself an expert – the art world has always been a fount for new ideas, OK maybe lately on the contemporary scene they have been somewhat lacking but I have always tried to keep an open mind
‘Well, here we are”, L B Chow, the Cow, said.
“OK” . I said puzzled, wondering what I was supposed to look at. In front of me was a just plain green grass stretching down to the water of the lake but I couldn’t really see anything new, no painting or ‘creation’ of hers. I said “Er .. nice”, trying not to discourage her, but struggling to hide my embarrassment.
“ Look above you, Nonno!”, she said almost laughing.
I looked up and saw all sorts of things hanging high up from the tree branches. Well I didn’t know what to say because it really looked like some post-apocalyptic Christmas tree; basically it was as if several rubbish bins had been emptied over that poor tree.
She must have seen the dismay in my face because after a moment’s silence she asked me if I understood what it was all about. I had to tell her the truth and admitted I had no idea what that post-urban modern quango thing was. She laughed. I was relieved she did because I thought I might have offended her but she exclaimed, “That’s right – you’ve got it!”
“I have?” I replied, not sure if she was teasing me or what….
“Yes you have” she insisted. “Those are all fish made from different materials I collected from all sorts of prominent manufacturers; they were more than happy to help me with this installation as it gives their products extraordinary visibility”
“Fish out of water and I thought you were a vegetarian!”, I said having no idea what she would make of that.
“Yes I am a veggie”, L B Chow, the Cow said. “If we animals don’t care for each other who will? Although Nonno there is a new wave of thinking that
even plants have a soul so we’ll only be able to eat GM food made for consumption only.”
I didn’t quite understand what she meant, but I went along with it, hoping that the more she tried to explain to me her concept, the more I would understand what those unstylish things hanging from that poor tree were. Even the colours she’d chosen didn’t match those of the leaves. Really, I thought, she used to have a bit of taste but with this one she’s failed miserably. Some ‘fish’ looked more like big cushions hanging anonymously, others looked like empty bottles full of dust wrapped in a piece of fabric; to be honest with you, I wouldn’t have paid a penny for that pile of rubbish.
“You see, Nonno Panda”, she said. “You’ve told me several times we all feel like fish out of water sometimes, so I took your idea and made it more contemporary, like these fish have been thrown out of water by a blast of air, as if a hurricane had swept them out of their environment so they could swim on air. If you come over here, you ‘ll see them in a different perspective”
I moved a bit further back and it was true from a distance, the suspended cushions seemed to be swimming above the water but it was still hard to see them as a colourful fish.
I can understand that maybe commercially speaking, somebody who’s got tons of left-over fabric, would think it’s a clever way of recycling their material and at the same time getting the prestige of being seen to help a struggling artist but I’m not sure it had the intended effect, as the installation did not in any way enhance the brand but as the cow seemed so excited her work had received their support, I couldn’t tell her the truth about it all – after all who am I to judge an artist’s work? I am not a bona fide critic. However I feel I am still entitled to express an opinion, especially when I am forced to look at something I would happily ignore.
I understand judging art is always a projection of what we like or dislike, even from a critic’s point of view and there will always be a market for people with money to spare who are willing to take punt on one artist or another on the basis of some dealer’s advice. You can do what you like with your own money – it has been the case down the ages. It triggers that narcissism of wanting to feel special, appear immortal. In the old days it was an acceptable way of communicating with the illiterate plebs in order to market a belief or a social status. Now with the craziness of social networking that type of art form is redundant because taking selfies in any position in any location and then broadcasting it to the world seems the only sad modern way to exist. But hey! I’m just an old panda and always Zen with everything, so if a cow thinks she is an artist and wants to become a fishmonger, that’s also fine by me.
And so I pretended I appreciated her work and wished her all success. I really do hope she can make some money – you never know she might be able to fool somebody with some spare cash to invest in it, but as I was sauntering back to my neck of the woods, I overheard two cats passing comment, “Well I never! All that fuss for a bunch of hanging cushions on tree branches that my granddaughter could have done better!” I guess those two cats were disappointed at not getting a bit of fish as a free lunch from among all those canapes you normally get served at private views but it was difficult not to agree with them.
If the point of the entire installation is to make you feel like a fish out of water, confronting you with how far an egocentric animal can go to twist reality into something suitable for its own consumption then it has achieved its aim. I do not know if there is any other kind of philosophical interpretation of the work nor do I want to waste my energy on what kind of selfishness, lack of self esteem, or self-regarding ego, or whatever is involved . All I can say about artists is to each their own, and as long as they keep their style and integrity or whatever they think professionalism is I am fine with that, but those who go out of their way to use whatever connections they might have and compromise their so called “principles” for the sake of grabbing minutes fuss for five minutes of self-regarding fame, I am sure I can’t endorse those types. They are chasing short-lived glory because the cow’s art has suffered big time and although she may have had some talent before she has definitely blown it now on a work I find so mediocre that I know it will go virtually unnoticed. Good riddance, I say. On to ‘udder’ things.