The selection process in rental space galleries, like Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG), is primarily based on renting out the space and not artistic ability. So I was not surprised to read on the front page of The Age that BSG has found that they are exhibiting the paintings of Aelita Andre, a 2-year old girl.
Most of Melbourne’s galleries close for January so BSG must have been happy to find someone who wanted to rent a gallery so early in the year.
Mark Jamieson, the director of BSG has made the best of the situation securing front-page publicity for his gallery. Along with a review by the Age’s art critic, Robert Nelson of the artist’s work. Artists exhibiting at BSG rarely get reviewed. There was more media coverage from NineMSN and the Sydney Morning Herald. (And now I am writing about it.)
Years ago I made a similar mistake, prompted by the quality framing of a large abstract painting on paper that was hanging in a friend’s study. It resembled drawings by William de Kooning. I asked who the artist was only to be told that it was his daughter aged 2 or 3 years old.
I would recommend to parents of all 2 and 3 year olds to follow the example of Aelita’s mother, Kalashnikova, in part, renting gallery space is going a bit far. Buy a couple of large canvases (this way you don’t have to pay the expense of framing and mounting) and some artist’s acrylic paints. Paint a background colour onto the whole of the canvas; Indian Red (terracotta colour) works well. Then let your child paint. Do not write your child’s age on the front of the canvas, as it will only detract from the composition, recording it on the back is sufficient. Hang your favourite canvas on your wall; it will be a beautiful memento of your child’s early years.
I would recommend to all rental space galleries that either they improve their selection processes (actually meeting the artist might be a good first step), or to remember that all publicity is good publicity.
It would be a mistake to conclude that this episode demonstrates anything about the quality of abstract art in general.