If you get enough rejections from galleries, curators and juries your focus moves away from the previously assumed inadequacies of your work; I’ve had enough rejections now where it’s come to the point of being the accepted process of my work. Being blunt (it’s something I tend to pride myself on) I work my bollocks off producing work that I feel has some level of integrity. On top of that I have to also hold down a full-time job – as eating paint isn’t an option. This has been the case for the last twenty years, and no doubt it will continue (I’m well past personal delusions of being ‘discovered’ and cruelly subjected to the torments of being a nine to five painter). So the process then moves, following the production of a new batch of work that has at least a vague semblance of a theme (galleries tend not to like a disparate selection of subjects all at once), on to hawking around the new pieces in the mad belief that someone would care to stick them on a wall. Being brutally honest with myself I can see why the gallery managers may have some reservations, perhaps I’ve just been extremely fortunate in attracting the odd individual buyer who doesn’t want to pack their walls with token abstracts, landscapes, spitfires, spaniels and Chinese mass-produced still-lifes, perhaps the big bald bloke with one inch holes in his ears and a cod Dutch moustache is a little intimidating, perhaps my work is just shite.
Anyway, I’ve just had another rejection, just in case you’re wondering where this little rant came from. And the excuse was the usual, particularly unoriginal “Your work doesn’t fit in with our usual client expectations.” Which in actual fact is complete and utter nonsense. It’s based on the assumption that I am sat at home randomly posting paperwork, photographs, discs etcetera to inappropriate potential galleries. I can afford neither the time nor the financial cost of not thoroughly researching potential galleries; to top it all this gallery not only seemed appropriate (I checked their existing artists on their own website), but they actually sought new submissions through an arts publication.
Anyway, like I said at the start of this, it’s no longer about the fact of being rejected. It’s now become a matter of pride in accumulating better reasons as to why a gallery (public and private) should not exhibit my work. So for your edification here are some of the more interesting reasons why I’m still a slave to evening, night and weekend painting:
- “We’ve been told your work could potentially offend a rural audience.” (That was from a public gallery)
- “Our viewers don’t like to be reminded of their mortality.” (From a hospital requesting work to fill main corridors and public spaces)
- “We don’t think work that is predominantly black and white is uplifting enough.” (Same hospital)
- “No red please.” (Yup – same hospital again) Don’t worry, I’ve got the message now – three strikes and you’re out.
- “We need some yellow paintings.” (Private gallery this time – after seeing my work somewhere else they asked me to bring my work the 150 miles to show them)
- “We don’t take artists who have websites.” (I won’t bother showing it ANYWHERE then!)
- “Perhaps you could come back when you’ve been painting a little longer.” (Said, with all due gravity, by a twenty-something year old, public gallery manager, fresh out of an art history degree)
- ”Have you thought about doing some video work?” (From a private gallery that had never shown video work up to that point and hasn’t since – I can take a hint)
- “It’s a bit depressing isn’t it?” (Private gallery with a healthy list of visual-dirge obsessed artists)
- “We don’t do work from outside of London!” (No doubt they’re equally fussy about their buyers)
- “We don’t accept unsolicited submissions.” (I bet they would if it was Damien bloody Hirst)
- …and the best of the lot, not totally unrelated to the last… “In our position, an unknown artist is too much of a risk.”
Actually, the last bunch were right and went out of business inside a year. Serves ’em bloody well right I say…
” yet man is born unto flames” 2006