Bad Bad, Not Good Bad

Bad Bad, Not Good Bad

bad_Bad_Not_Good_Bad_Daddy_Emilie_Chabridon_for website

“Everyone is an artist” is a claim made popular by German artist slash anthroposophist Joseph Beuys. I support his generous statement only in theory. Joseph, with all due respect, you and I both know very well that not everyone is an artist. In fact, very few people are artists.

Now, before you stop reading this (who does this high brow bitch think she is?), please bear with me. Think back to the last time you sat in that one café. Now imagine you are calmly sipping your coffee, your eyes unsuspectingly wandering the room when suddenly, there it is. You feel a sharp pain behind your pupils before your eyes can even properly focus on what’s in front of them, what’s hanging on the bare brick walls. A figurative painting with a grotesque bold use of neon colours…Wait. What? A lady zombie with pink hair, wearing a green boxy shirt on blue skin, painted against a bright neon yellow backdrop? No. Why. Oh come on. Please no.

Yes. Bad Café Art (BCA) is bad bad, not good bad. It violates your aesthetic sensibility, but no, not at all in a revelatory way. It gives you a headache, but not because it gets you thinking super deeply about pressing issues of our present age, but because you simply can’t fathom why someone would decide to create such a piece, let alone reveal it to the public eye. You consider ditching your cappuccino with perfect milk foam because you just can’t even with this eyesore-on-canvas? BCA is not suitable for sensitive minds.

It’s a sneaky genre, really. You encounter BCA in the most unexpected places (aka cafés with otherwise pleasant furnishings), and at the most unfit times (why is this anatomically impossible nude hanging over my favorite spot, this was NOT here yesterday). Though BCA can take on surprising shapes and forms, I bet you’ve come across at least one of the following types of cringe-worthy creations. If you haven’t, you’re either lying or have actually never been to a café in your whole life in which case…well. What do you want me to say.

How about those Colourful Cocky Paintings that display the refinement of a paint by numbers? Bulky vases, sunflowers, tea cups, bicycles, cows, you name it – as long as the contours are simple enough to be executed with a single clumsy brush stroke, anything can be the subject of a cocky colourful painting. Another typical feature is, and ugh, I am literally shuddering while typing this out, a “cute“ format or a “playful“ hanging. Almost certainly will you find the business cards of the Bad Café Artist pinned onto the wall next to the paintings, and they will feature at least three different fonts and, optionally, a clipart painter’s palette.

 You thought that Banksyesque Stencil Art was passé since 2008? Nope. It’s alive and well on the walls of cafés where the Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing in a continuous loop and everything else can only be described as gentrified mediocrity: A flea market (excuse me, vintage) couch here, some IKEA tealights there, and dry overpriced marble cake. Whereas the colourful cocky painting might at least have some charm or even a touching effect (bordering on good bad art), Banksyesque stencil art is just plain annoying. It’s meaningless, commercial and apolitical – even though it pretends to be the opposite. Show me one more graffiti painting with a “socio-critical“ message in a Berlin-Mitte café and I’ll flip.

Equally unnerving: Profound Photography. It comes in the form of black and white images that are supposed to be both serious and sexy (always en vogue are female body parts, bed sheets, and fruit) or mellow and melancholic (think children, wilting flowers, mountainscapes). Stylistic devices include excessive use of shadows and sharp contrasts, as well as an “intimate“ camera perspective. Dear café owner, you might as well take a still from the music video of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, play around in photoshop a little bit, print it out on glossy paper, put it in a thick black (important!) frame and hang it on the beige wall of the little corridor that leads from the sitting area to the bathrooms. You have a decorative arrangement of plastic aloe vera, pebble stones, and vanilla scented candles that goes along with it? Done.

Think back to the last time you sat in that one café. Now imagine you are calmly sipping your coffee, your eyes unsuspectingly wandering the room and there is – nothing. Bare walls. BAC-free zone. Is this utopian thinking? Maybe. But one may still dream.

“Everyone is an artist” is a claim made popular by German artist slash anthroposophist Joseph Beuys. I support his generous statement only in theory. Joseph, with all due respect, you and I both know very well that not everyone is an artist. In fact, very few people are artists.

Now, before you stop reading this (who does this high brow bitch think she is?), please bear with me. Think back to the last time you sat in that one café. Now imagine you are calmly sipping your coffee, your eyes unsuspectingly wandering the room when suddenly, there it is. You feel a sharp pain behind your pupils before your eyes can even properly focus on what’s in front of them, what’s hanging on the bare brick walls. A figurative painting with a grotesque bold use of neon colours…Wait. What? A lady zombie with pink hair, wearing a green boxy shirt on blue skin, painted against a bright neon yellow backdrop? No. Why. Oh come on. Please no.

Yes. Bad Café Art (BCA) is bad bad, not good bad. It violates your aesthetic sensibility, but no, not at all in a revelatory way. It gives you a headache, but not because it gets you thinking super deeply about pressing issues of our present age, but because you simply can’t fathom why someone would decide to create such a piece, let alone reveal it to the public eye. You consider ditching your cappuccino with perfect milk foam because you just can’t even with this eyesore-on-canvas? BCA is not suitable for sensitive minds.

It’s a sneaky genre, really. You encounter BCA in the most unexpected places (aka cafés with otherwise pleasant furnishings), and at the most unfit times (why is this anatomically impossible nude hanging over my favorite spot, this was NOT here yesterday). Though BCA can take on surprising shapes and forms, I bet you’ve come across at least one of the following types of cringe-worthy creations. If you haven’t, you’re either lying or have actually never been to a café in your whole life in which case…well. What do you want me to say.

How about those Colourful Cocky Paintings that display the refinement of a paint by numbers? Bulky vases, sunflowers, tea cups, bicycles, cows, you name it – as long as the contours are simple enough to be executed with a single clumsy brush stroke, anything can be the subject of a cocky colourful painting. Another typical features is, and ugh, I am literally shuddering while typing this out, a “cute“ format or a “playful“ hanging. Almost certainly will you find the business cards of the Bad Café Artist pinned onto the wall next to the paintings, and they will feature at least three different fonts and, optionally, a clipart painter’s palette.

You thought that Banksyesque Stencil Art was passé since 2008? Nope. It’s alive and well on the walls of cafés where the Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing in a continuous loop and everything else can only be described as gentrified mediocrity: A flea market (excuse me, vintage) couch here, some IKEA tealights there, and dry overpriced marble cake. Whereas the colourful cocky painting might at least have some charm or even a touching effect (bordering on good bad art), Banksyesque stencil art is just plain annoying. It’s meaningless, commercial and apolitical – even though it pretends to be the opposite. Show me one more graffiti painting with a “socio-critical“ message in a Berlin-Mitte café and I’ll flip.

Equally unnerving: Profound Photography. It comes in the form of black and white images that are supposed to be both serious and sexy (always en vogue are female body parts, bed sheets, and fruit) or mellow and melancholic (think children, wilting flowers, mountainscapes). Stylistic devices include excessive use of shadows and sharp contrasts, as well as an “intimate“ camera perspective. Dear café owner, you might as well take a still from the music video of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, play around in photoshop a little bit, print it out on glossy paper, put it in a thick black (important!) frame and hang it on the beige wall of the little corridor that leads from the sitting area to the bathrooms. You have a decorative arrangement of plastic aloe vera, pebble stones, and vanilla scented candles that goes along with it? Done.

Think back to the last time you sat in that one café. Now imagine you are calmly sipping your coffee, your eyes unsuspectingly wandering the room and there is – nothing. Bare walls. BAC-free zone. Is this utopian thinking? Maybe. But one may still dream.

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