A Rogue in the Gallery…

Art. Love it or hate it you can’t escape it.  Mr Omneo is your classic Dunno about art but I know what I like kinda guy which is probably true of most people if they were honest with themselves, instead however you have some people who insist they know nothing acting as a counter balance to those who believe they know it all. Yes Brian Sewell, I’m looking at you!

After my weekend of ballet, theatre and rock music what better way to start the week than with a visit to an art gallery that would only be in existence for a few hours?  You can’t get more exclusive than that!  Yes, this is how Mr Omneo rolls, get used to it ;)

The gallery in question featured 16 pieces of work from just 7 of the almost 1,000 artists who call B-uncut their home and quite a mixed bag of art it was.  There was something for everyone and I’ll freely admit some of it left me scratching my head thinking, Hmmm… art huh? but isn’t that the beauty of art? it really is in the eye of the beholder.  Personally I felt the pieces by Stephen Farley, Sandra Wray and Shikyba Azizi were very much my cup of tea and whilst I wasn’t sure I’d place either of the 2 pieces on show by Jason Ellis on my wall I subsequently had a look at some of his other work and saw a few bits n bobs that appealed.

What made it a great evening was the ability to chat with the artists themselves.  I’m not sure how you, my dear readers, feel but I’m always curious to know what the real story behind a piece of art is.  I often find myself reading a review and I thinking, OK, that’s what you think but what’s the artist got to say for themselves? I found one of Sandra’s pieces quite disturbing. Nice but disturbing nevertheless, it struck me as quite bleak as if the landscape had been decimated and said so to Tanja who had come along with me.  Later when we found Sandra and asked her what had been going on she explained that she had been inspired by the news stories of the death and destruction during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and just the everyday horrors of what’s going on in the world we live in at the moment.  I think it says something about her work that a regular Joe like me can actually see that in an abstract piece of work.

However this piece by Sandra would have got me reaching for my cheque book if I had some cash in my account, as it was I had to content myself with looking at it a lot. Tanja described it as being like A perfect handbag, it goes with everything.  I’m just not sure where you’d put your house keys?!

Anyway, back to B-uncut, which is the brainchild of Philip Letts, an abstract photographer who decided to take your typical art dealers on at their own game, with a twist.  Philip started B-uncut late in 2007 with the intention of getting emerging artists work seen and more importantly, sold to an art loving public who don’t mind if the art they look at isn’t hanging on some swanky gallery’s wall.  I wasn’t aware that for new artists they are sometimes lucky to get 20-30% from the proceeds of a sale.  I knew the dealer took a hefty cut but I didn’t realise it was quite so one sided!  No wonder those swanky galleries can afford to ply you with decent wine and nibbles it’s the struggling, starving artist who is really footing the bill!  That said, on Monday I had to leave Philip’s impromptu gallery to pop to the bar to buy myself a soft drink as there was only free wine on offer ?!

B-uncut has 3 main areas.  B-uncut.com is where you’ll find the virtual online gallery which houses painters, photographers and digital artists.  The artists shown here are selected from that impressive pool of almost 1,000 artists.  Around 150 new artists are joining B-uncut every month, from all over the globe, that certainly seems to say that it’s an artist friendly environment. Philip is keen to point out that 80% of the proceeds of any work sold in the gallery go straight to the artist with b-uncut taking just 20% to cover costs.  My only grumble is that the selection process is still determined by one or two people but Philip assured me that the plan is to eventually have it so that the artists themselves select whose work gets shown.

So what if you don’t have a spare £1,400 for Stephen Farley’s gorgeous Far Fetched?  That’s easy, just pop into the B-uncut store and have it reproduced on anything from a mouse mat to an eco friendly tote bag.  There is literally something for every budget. Currently European customers have drawn the short straw as everything is produced and shipped from the USA so perhaps not ideal for last minute gift ideas.

OK, as I said, the gallery only houses a fraction of the artists who have signed up to b-uncut but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t see them all.  B-uncut.net is the artists studio.  If the gallery is the respectable street level entry point of Philip’s creation, the studio is the crazy chaotic area where the artists hang out while they await their turn to go upstairs.  On Monday Philip stated that people had mentioned to him that they found they had a headache after  5 or 10 minutes on the site, I could have been one of them as I find it just too busy, but Philip sees that as a compliment!  Those crazy artists huh?!

Of course the site would not be complete without the B-uncut blog, the B-uncut Twitter account and of course the B-uncut FaceBook Fan Page so there really is no excuse for not keeping up-to-date with what is happening.

I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t sure there was much difference between B-uncut’s virtual gallery and a regular bricks and mortar gallery other than a better distribution of the sales cheque in the artists favour but that’s perhaps because I hadn’t appreciated the breadth and depth of what it is Philip and his gang are trying to achieve.

Artists from small towns far from the usual art centres of London or New York are getting to show their work to a worldwide audience without having to leave their studios.  Even artists who are known in their native countries are impressed by the opportunities open to them by B-uncut. Take Sergio Lombardino for instance. Sergio is an Italian artist based in Rome who is pretty successful in Italy. He has had several solo shows and even had a profile done on him on Italian television. The first sale he has ever made in his 30 year career outside of Italy was through b-uncut. I don’t know how Sergio feels but I imagine that knowing your art is reaching a broader audience is quite exciting and quite possibly gets his creative juices flowing!

You know, there is probably a lot more I could write about B-uncut but I think the best thing you could do is just head over there and see it for yourself.  I for one will certainly be keeping an eye on what’s going on.  Philip has big plans for the future with a rather ambitious warehouse show planned for later in 2010 as well as an online auction room.  I just hope B-uncut sticks to it’s principles of being artist centric and doesn’t end up trying to get involved in too many areas of art in it’s bid to make money and share art with the world.  Time will tell…

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