The poor man’s Picassoby Sean O'Toole / 18.04.2009
This is artist William Kentridge. The painting is by Zander Blom, Michael MacGarry and Jan Henri-Booyens, three Jozi-based artists who work collectively under the name Avant Car Guard. But enough about these three moegoes (whose work you can see for yourself at Woodstock’s Whatiftheworld Gallery). I want to talk about cruel jokes, by which I mean satire. I imagine satire as working a little bit like this. You drive past an election poster. You read the silly promise made by the aspirant gangster in a suit smiling down at you. It prompts a response in your head. Perhaps your response even makes a friend chuckle. So you kick the idea around your head some more. Then the hard work starts: you get down and do the dirty work. In
other words, you go out and make satire. Or something like that. Depending on who you regard as a satirist, say Jonathan Shapiro, Justin Nurse or Avant Car Guard, satire can mean everything from printing a T-shirt with a tweaked beer logo on it to drawing a cartoon or painting a portrait of a famous somebody. Not that it ends there. Satire is all about speaking to an
audience; it is not about being shy or elitist. It is all about… the maximum setting on the volume control, the hasty, late-night defacement of an election poster. It is, at the end of the day, about danger, about making Joe Cabot “super-fuckin pissed”. Joe who? Never seen the movie Reservoir Dogs? There is a great little piece of dialogue in Tarantino’s masterpiece that neatly summarises what good satire should do. Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) walks into a warehouse after a botched robbery. Looking at Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), he tells them that his daddy, Joe Cabot, head of their gang, is coming – “and he’s fucking pissed”. Mr. Pink looks at Mr. White: “I told ya he’d be pissed.” If I’m not making any sense here, then think of Nice Guy Eddie as ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte, and Joe Cabot as Jacob “daddy” Zuma.
Avant Car Guard, The Poor Man’s Picasso, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 200 x
Courtesy Whatiftheworld Gallery