Is there anything Bravo could possible do to improve upon Work of Art’s premiere season? The mind reels with that thought, but if the first episode is any indication (and it almost never is), Bravo’s challenges may exhibit a little more ingenuity than the previous season. This week’s challenge, transform a “bad” work of art, already raises the bar compared to last year’s middle school portrait assignment. Contestants were invited to chose a work from a room filled with kitschy art, and somehow a ceramic teddy remained on its pedestal. The closing shot for the scene zooms in on the teddy while ominous music plays overhead. Hilarious.
Back at the studio, Sucklord this, Sucklord that. The name alone will keep this guy on for at least four more episodes. In other notable scenes; The Sucklord chants verses from what might have been the Lord of the Ring, young Lola nearly cries due to the stress of making art, and auctioneer and Bravo mentor Simon de Pury proffers his usual “go for it”-type pearls of wisdom in the studio. “Offputting” and “visually intriguing” are the words he uses to describe Kathryn Parker Almanas‘s piece, which basically looks like bloody upchuck. Needless to say, nothing that revealing happens until the exhibition and eliminations. At that point we’re introduced to the judges, who continue last year’s tradition of producing conclusions only a movie studio could come up with.
I’m not going to bother complaining about who got eliminated — nearly everyone who opened their mouth around Ugo Nonis did so to ask if he’d “heard of Keith Haring”, so he’s as good a choice as any — but what’s with Sara Jimenez‘s inclusion in the top three? She produced an illustrative watercolor (?) of woman bound and roasted over a hot fire. Aside from the infantile subject matter, the composition is slightly off-center and there is almost no tonal range in the ground; somehow, it’s still completely overworked. This piece was deemed “fused…on an almost psychological level” by the panel of esteemed judges. If only I had a penny for every time I heard that in a Chelsea gallery.
Anyway, Michelle Matson‘s woodsman memorial was a good choice for the win, but it’s too bad Young San Han‘s performative rendering of a dog painting didn’t make it into the top three, or even get any screen time at all — it perfectly reproduced the light in his original picture. It’s also too bad Bravo ever thought to cast photographer Mary Ellen Mark as a guest judge. “I really like the Sucklord’s piece” the great luminary said of the toy wizard, “It spoke to me”.
Cue the Jerry Saltz eyeroll. Pardon my frankness, but if this season is going to be any good, we’ll need a lot more of those.