These guys must have been expecting so much more. But the "Houston, we have a problem..." exhibit at James Perez Art Gallery, by alleged Picasso vandal Uriel Landeros, was a damp squib, despite being breathlessly promoted as the scandal du jour by The Houston Chronicle and the Associated Press. If you went hoping for something to equal the artistic outrages of the past--the riots at Futurist serates, the opening of Le Sacre du Printemps, etc.--this was nothing. Claire Bishop describes a Futurist serate so:
In its Futurist iteration, this [audience] participation became directly antagonistic, with performers and audience making direct attacks on one another. [...] a member of the audience at the Teatro Verdi, Florence, on 12 December 1913, [...] gave Marinetti a pistol and invited him to commit suicide on stage. [Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, 2012]The Marinetti of this show, James Perez, tried his best to gin up scandal through a series of provocative statements on FaceBook. But while I was there, no one rose to his bait. (A friend who was there later described the scene as sparse and boring, so it doesn't seem as if things improved after I left.) Part of the problem is that the cowardly Landeros wasn't there. He was Skyping from another location, supposedly Mexico. The great revolutionary artist's most notable act in this whole fiasco was in running away. The shades of Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi and Martin Luther King don't know whether to laugh or cry. So any audience members who might have handed him a pistol or just punched his punk face in were left with nothing more than his smug visage projected on the wall and a load of shitty artwork.
The great revolutionary artist speaks
And Landeros's art, alas, is inept, derivative and juvenile. Its attempts to shock are utterly feeble and passé. It comes across as completely ersatz, faintly echoing superior artists who outraged (and challenged) public sensibilities--artists that I serious doubt Landeros has ever heard of. If he had, he would have been ashamed to show second-rate students work publicly.
Uriel Landeros, Ass Rape
Uriel Landeros, Transexual Blowjob
Uriel Landeros, Fuck Art
I liked the title of this one because his whole show--indeed his entire existence--is a big "fuck you" to art. But he is no Duchamp. He doesn't have the intellect. This is the work of tantrum, of a child screaming "look at me!!" He doesn't even seem dimly aware of what a clown he is. He takes himself seriously, which makes the work all the more ridiculous.
Uriel Landeros, Glory Hole
But he is far more risible when he tries to express something, some emotion or thought. These paintings display all the sensitivity of a wooden leg.
Uriel Landeros, Tears of Gold
Uriel Landeros, The Artists Ego
It may be too much to ask, but I hope this is the last we hear of Urial Landeros. But I would be pleased if he has the courage of his stated convictions and turns himself in. If his action spray-painting the Picasso was indeed a political statement--I'm dubious--then he should accept the consequences. That is something I would applaud.