When Tao Wells can paint nudes, we might rate him more highly as an artist

Here's what nudes should look like: The Large Bathers, by Renoir.

... but what the hell is this?


Alf has shared the sense of outrage expressed by fellow bloggers over the Creative New Zealand decision to toss good public money in the diretion of one Tao Wells.

But he had not (until now) commented on the matter.

He was somewhat ambivalent.

First, public money is being thrown at all sorts of things, including big-budget movies and rugby.

Second, he had been told this Wells bloke’s works include a nude (and maybe many nudes).

Alf is very agreeable towards artists who can paint a good nude.

He was disappointed in this case.

The nude which Alf tracked down looks nothing like any female form with which he is familiar, but it does bear a remarkable resemblance to the rotting rabbit which the Grumble dog threw up on the carpet this morning.

He felt more cheated by this than by the sum dispensed to Wells via Creative New Zealand.

His experience raised a bloody good question, which he tossed around among his mates in the Eketahuna Club.

What is art? And which art should the taxpayer be funding (if any)?

Who are the members of the Creative New Zealand decision-making body that dished up money to Wells? And were they familiar with his inability to paint a nude that looks like a nude?

A lively contribution to the debate has been made by a Philip Duck at SOLO-NZ, who recalls that –

Back in 2004 a scumbag by the name of Tao Wells displayed his ‘art’ installation in an Auckland gallery. All you need to know about that work was that he left something to decay and stink inside the filing cabinet that formed part of the installation. This was to show that the work of his fellow-artists stank, apparently.

This Duck fellow is scathing, dismissing Wells as a tosser and describing his installation as crap, although – because he is a Libertarian – he accepts that Wells and those like him should be free to do their own thing as they please (or “slop around in their own muck”, as he eloquently puts it).

It’s the spending of taxpayers’ money on this stuff that – quite rightly – irks him.

Trouble is though, his current dross is taxpayer-funded courtesy of a $2,000 Creative New Zealand grant. And what’s he trying to say with this $2,000 of Other People’s Money?

Actually, it seems a bit more than $2,000 of Other People’s Money is involved.

Flushed into the open, Creative New Zealand yesterday issued a media statement on the matter of its funding of Tao Wells exhibition ‘The Beneficiary’s office’

Creative New Zealand today has clarified the amount of funding provided to the Letting Space exhibition The Beneficiary’s Office by Tao Well.

Creative New Zealand invested $44,790 in the Wellington Independent Arts Trust towards curating and commissioning public art works as part of the Letting Space project; a public art programme of six exhibitions. Tao Well’s exhibition is the third in the series. The curators leading the project are Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery.

Creative New Zealand understands that Tao Well received an artist’s fee of $2000 and a further total $1500 for expenses for his project.

So what is the purpose of the public expenditure?

The artists working in this series of projects are looking to generate discussion in the community around social issues and art.

And how do the decision-makers work out which projects are worth funding with Somebody Else’s Money?

All applicants to Creative New Zealand are assessed on the basis of artistic quality and contribution to our strategic outcomes. Projects are assessed on the basis of the idea, the process, the track record of the people involved, the budget, plus, where applicable, innovation, community arts participation, and diversity (cultural diversity, Matauranga Maori, or Kaupapa Pasifika).

Creative New Zealand’s role as the national arts development agency is to provide financial support to artists, arts practitioners and arts organisations to assist them to research, create, publicly present and distribute the arts in their various forms.

And here comes the good bit – they tell us the size of the budget for dishing out to the likes of Tao Wells.

We distribute around $11 million each year in Contestable Funding to support projects that develop New Zealand arts, artists and arts practitioners.

Tao Wells is not the only beneficiary under Letting Space, which Creative New Zealand describes as “a public art programme in Wellington that seeks to transform the relationship between artists, property developers and their city”.

It commissions temporary art works from leading New Zealand contemporary artists for commercial CBD spaces.

The first works in the Letting Space series were “pop-up” installations by Dugal McKinnon (18 April – 9 May, 141 Willis Street) and Kim Paton (21 May – 6 June, 38 Ghuznee Street). The next project Taking Stock by Eve Armstrong will be in November 2010. They will be followed by projects by Colin Hodson and Bronwyn Holloway-Smith in 2011.

If it’s such a bloody good idea, of course, the capital’s millionaire property developers would be keen to fund it.

They aren’t.

Maybe they would be if the artists mastered the art of painting a nude that looks like a nude.

But it’s unlikely.

Mind you, Alf does not totally dismiss Tao Wells.

He came across something Wells created which incorporates the New Zealand flag.

Alf is a great champion of this flag because it incorporates the Union Jack.

He accordingly has a sneaking admiration for this work by Tao Wells.

But he hopes it was not publicly funded.

“Just so we’re clear what these mean” (Tao Wells, 2010) June 17th, 2010.

7 Responses to When Tao Wells can paint nudes, we might rate him more highly as an artist

  1. P.R.W says:

    Was interesting reading your opinions regarding the nude. I was fortunate enough to study painting and drawing under Bill Sutton at Canterbury Uni – do you know his work? then I went to New York Studio School for Painting Drawing and Sculpture and studied undeerr Mercedes Matter and Nicolas Corone – do you knoe them? You speak with so such passion and authority on the subject of the nude I am now really interested in what you might say about Cezzane or Giocometti and the early moderists. Perhaps Goya would be of interest as well – have you been to the Prado and seen his work in the flesh.? I am interested because you seem to have been around.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      Alf does not know the teachers you mention, but he has admired some of the nudes painted by blokes like Goya. If the teachers could help Tao Wells paint bare boobs and other female bits so they look like bare boobs and female bits, and if they turned him into a Kiwi Goya, he would approve of Tao being tutored by them.

  2. Wells Group says:

    Great writing Alf, perhaps you’d be interested in checking out my exhibition of landscape paintings (plein Air of Mt Taranaki). At Gambia Castle, Auckland. 454 K’rd. Open Friday and Sat, 12 to 4.

    Check out these ads for the show.

    Best

    Tao Wells

    • Alf Grumble says:

      Thanks for the invitation, Tao. But are your landscapes recognisable as landscapes? Or might a simple soul like Alf mistake them for nudes?

  3. […] expressed his strong disappointment that Wells could not paint a nude that looks like a nude, rather than a heap of dog […]

  4. Wells Group says:

    Property Developer do support the project Alf, their commerical spaces worth a fair hunk of cash are donated.

    Are you aware Alf that you can buy porn at most shops, I could show you my Male nudes, they may be more to your taste, more details. Hearing of your distressed state I have to encourage you to try and consider woman as an equals, might even result in you meeting living breasts.

    All the best mate, your a funny fuck.

    • Alf Grumble says:

      Alf asks: since when did admiring Renoir nudes mean someone would want porn and – more outrageously – would want to see someone’s collection of male nudes???

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