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Koos Kombuis

Sometimes bad art can be good for you

2012-12-18 11:22
During a few misguided years I spent at an art college many moons ago, we were taught, alongside with the art of partying and dressing funny, to look at art critically.

We had a handbook entitled The Critical Eye which explained, in great detail, why we should look down on people – ie. the majority of human beings on this planet – who enjoy kitsch.

I suppose it's good to be taught, at a young age, the difference between a Picasso and a Tretchikoff, but in my riper years I have come to the conclusion that all is relative.

These days, even Tretchikoff has been restored to the historical club of revered artists of antiquity. And, of course, there are certain times in one's life when bad art can be a good thing.

One of those times when bad art can be truly heartwarming, not to mention awe-inspiring, is when one is watching a primary school Christmas play. Especially if one's own kids have been chosen to play, for instance, the star roles of Mary and the Innkeeper in Bethlehem. This recently happened to me!

Of course, even though the teacher who wrote the text of the aforementioned play has obvious writing talent, I could see, while watching the play, that she had been held back in her creativity by two facts: The predictability of the plot of the Nativity story, and the inescapable duty to include, in the script, every single child who happen to have a special talent, whether that talent has any relevance to the piece of theatre or not.

So, no-one was surprised when some of the wise men started doing gymnastic cart-wheels across the stage, or when the shepherds entered dancing to a Kurt Darren tune. And, this year, when Mary promptly stopped in mid-birth to perform an African drum solo, leaving the Innkeeper to hold the baby (upside-down), I could not help wiping away a tear.

Perhaps it is time for me to relax my strict standards. Perhaps one of my New Year's resolutions should be not to be overly critical.

Ever since it was announced that Justin Bieber is scheduled to visit South Africa, in fact, I have been steeling myself for the moment when I might have to accompany one or both of my kids to one these concerts.

Thank goodness the tickets to his shows were sold out five minutes after they were made available!  Not only would I have been forced to accompany them, I would have been forced to put up a happy face and pretend to enjoy it with them. It might even have been expected of me to sing along to the chorus of that "Baby baby" song (as a matter of fact, those two words are the only Justin Bieber lyrics I happen to know by heart).

Then again, next time something atrocious like the Bieber tour comes around, I may just be lucky. By that time, my children might have grown in their musical taste. They will then be fans of more mature musical acts, such as Slipknot, Die Antwoord or… wow, even Metallica would be preferable.

Have a nice season, enjoy staring at your Christmas tree decorations and flickering lights even though it gets a bit repetitive after a while!

Read more on:    koos kombuis

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