OK, so I have never been on TV or written a blog, and I am not even on Facebook (joining might mean being a jettisoned into Jerry's 5,000 friend world, where I might stay). I am lucky to get through my emails in a day...
By way of introduction, I own a gallery and run an art advisory service, spending my days looking at artwork. I do this for a living, mostly in private. My pleasure is talking to artists both in and out of their studios. On this show our conversations, for the sake of good TV, are whittled down into small bites (ugh). Jerry, Bill, China and our guest judges continued much of this dialogue even off the set. And, Simon waited in the judges lounge (his mobile office) to gab enthusiastically about the works, post viewings. We often joke that he has a half vote. As judges we are never invited into the studios, and have little contact with the artists, other than during the critiques.
In the process of getting to know Bravo, I have admittedly become a bit of a TV nut. Something is in the air when Friday Night Lights’ own cerebral quarterback, Matt Saracen, turned out to be a promising artist (his portfolio got him into the Art Institute of Chicago). Kick-off time:
Judith's Proud Pussy painting, a wordplay portrait of Jaclyn, was razor sharp and among the few conceptual works presented. While it dated itself a bit, I am sorry that this painting did not make the cut for the final round. Judith shows super power energy, and will be one to watch.
Nao's verbal assaults are edited to perfection. She comes to the show as one of the more established and practiced artists. Her medium, however, is video and performance, the former not permitted on the show. Rather than putting so much labor into the elaborate ink drawing, she might have fared better going on instinct. Nao's brand of body politics alongside Judith's 90s conceptualism might together need an update. But both Nao and Judith have a strong image bank from which to cull and translate into something new.
Ryan has presented himself as a Caravaggio-like character from a made-for-TV miniseries. So he is perfectly cast here. But a painter who aspires towards the masters becomes better with time, the skills taking years and years to refine. In John Currin and Elizabeth Peyton (two great contemporary portrait painters) we have seen a revival of realist style that merges old master with hack commercial portraiture. And while we look for a fusion of the esteemed past with the vulgar present, does Ryan have the conceptual rigor and cleverness to pull it off? This competition will test his ability to react quickly both with his brush and mind.