Work of Art: Next Great Artist (Bravo) Episode 1-8 Review

Work of Art: Next Great Artist

Episode 8

Opposites Attract

This week’s Work of Art: Next Great Artist was the second to last challenge before the finale. That’s right, the finale’s eve eve. I’d like to communicate some sense of surprise at how quickly time has past, but I just can’t. It has been a slow clumsy drag over some very knotty terrain. But in these waning days of WoA, the question of whether or not there will be a season two makes the final 3 episodes all the more precious.

Even viewed through this appreciative frame, episode 8 demonstrated yet again why WoA:NGA might be one & done. Prefaced with China Chow cheese “Art has a rich history of exposing the dualities in life”; the challenge was to “Create a piece of art with opposing themes.” A vague art-speak-y start… not too bad- then the artists were paired off and assigned their themes. Yuck. The complexities of dualism and opposition were just some intellectual padding for an “Order & Chaos”, “Male & Female”, and “Heaven & Hell” cliché battle royale.

The teams were- Nicole (Order) & Abdi (Chaos), Miles (Male) & Jaclyn (Female), and Mark (Heaven) & Pereguine (Hell). The team aspect was puzzling with so few contestants remaining. To keep the competition lively, each person was responsible for there own word: i.e. Miles (Male), Jaclyn (Female). The overall piece’s success was still reliant on a compatibility between the two works, but blame could be, (and was) easily parsed and designated.

All three teams participated in crit, and while the art work was still abysmal, the all-inclusive extended-format crit showed a lot of potential for what a televised art critique could be: something WoA:NGA has been all too shy in portraying.

Guest judging this week was contemporary dynamo Ryan McGuiness. McGuiness is perhaps the most “relevant” artist to appear on the show to date. China Chow introduced him as an “art world sensation”, and upon seeing R.McG, Miles began gushing. It was exciting to see such a “hot” artist. It made the show feel like a destination instead of a rest stop. Ryan unfortunately acted slimey enough to answer the question “Why would HE do that show?” “Oh that’s it. He seems to be a D-bag.”

Miles and Jaclyn, Male & Female, made the most syncopated (and masochistic) piece of art and won the challenge. Miles made something elegant and sparse, and convinced (didn’t take much) Jaclyn to paint a portrait of herself masturbating. I know Jaclyn has a rockin’ bod. We all know and love this, it’s fine, really. I just cannot believe how foolproof the Tit Offensive has been. Tits are to Work of Art what bacon is to Top Chef. Might taste a little greasy, but they’re eatin’ it up. The judges viewed Miles’ genteel construction as feminine and Jaclyn’s bluntness as masculine, even though their declared intentions were the exact opposite. This incongruity was mentioned in discussing the “feminine power” claimed to have been flexed in Jaclyn’s jerkoff painting. Jaclyn quickly applied feminist keywords in a scattershot of “empowering through our bodies”. Weak shit, and the panel didn’t blink twice. I like to think that Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn wouldn’t have accepted such drivel, but alas, she was on The Continent doing more important art stuff. Instead we had Ryan McGuiness ask Jaclyn Santos if she masturbates standing up. Classy, Ryan.

Order & Chaos was a disaster, a calamitously un-chaotic disaster. Nicole interpreted order through a clunky and graceless wooden machine. Her relating order as function, rather than visual, thoroughly baffled Abdi. Abdi’s touch and ability is sound, but he seems to have no idea what to do with these skills, especially under pressure, especially when trying to conceptualize. Abdi decided to do a painting based on “Plato’s Cave”, an allegory told to him by Nicole. Having no idea what to make, he went in this direction because he thought it would give his piece a conceptual framework to pair with Nicole’s. What he painted was a conventional biomorphic abstract painting that was anything but chaotic. Abdi painted it in his usual carnivalesque palette, which happens to be very similar to McGuiness’ own hallmark colorfulness. The whole panel looked at McGuiness, giving him the first swing at tearing down this vivid imposter. Ryan knocked it well enough but left the death stroke to Papa Bear (Jerry Saltz). “Unoriginal, uninspired, and amateurish” said Saltz, adding “I’m beginning not to trust your vision itself.”

Mark and Pereguine, Heaven & Hell, were an odd but congenial pair. They worked well together- Mark full of accommodation for Pereguine’s direction. Mark’s idea of heaven involves a topless woman (see: Jaclyn’s success), and Pereguine’s approach to hell involved a topless man. Mark suggested that Pereguine pose for him; she turned the proposition back on Mark and they both ended up using topless Mark as their subject. Working on two versions of the same photograph, Pereguine graffito’d the image demonically while Mark deified himself through photoshop. Illustrating Heaven and Hell in the hackneyed iconography of angels and demons was boring, bordering on lazy. Pereguine’s overworked craftiness showed the judges a modicum of effort which kept her safe from elimination. After weeks of tepid art marking, Mark was asked to leave.


A star-studded crowd came down to view this week’s “exhibition”- actresses Kyra Sedgewick & Samantha Mathis, designer Cynthia Rowley, and artist Terrence Koh.

Cracked China! The abrasively chill China Chow apparently had a soft spot for Mark. China was clearly choked up, and through a waivering voice she mournfully executed her hosting duties.

Jargon Montage! Bravo edits together some superfluous footage each week to form a 30 second content-nugget to cram in between commercials. This week’s was a rapid-fire compendium of Art Speak! Brilliant!


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