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Can you make it through the day pretending to be an art critic? Arm yourself with some pitch-black clothes, a touch of facial hair, one hell of an attitude and you might just pull it off…

Bluff: Being someone you’re not
In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo Dicaprio led multiple lives with a smile and carried an interesting air about him. An unfortunate (and very true) fact of life is that sometimes you have to fake it to make it. It’d be much easier if there were guides to tell you how to forge your way through sticky situations and put your acting skills to the ultimate test. We spill the beans on what it takes to blend into the world of art.

Attack Your Canvas Like a Pit Bull 
As with anything else, picking up the skill would add leverage to any remarks you make because it transports you directly into the shoes of a real artist. You don’t have to enroll in an art school – starting at home should put you on the right track.

You’ll soon develop your own style and opinion. So much so you’ll be able to describe intimate moments with the materials, “I am in my orbit, attacking an empty canvas, emptying my soul in colours…”

So, unleash the beast within, and attack your canvas with a violent burst of colours. You might want to keep the vicinity protected with newspapers, however, unless you want your walls to look like they’re splattered with bird poop.

Dress Like a Cross Between a Nerdy Goth and a Werewolf 
When you’re ready, try your best to score an invite to a gallery opening or exhibition opening. Image is everything when fooling the audience. You wouldn’t want to be caught wearing a suit and tie looking every bit like a corporate bigwig. 

Blending in requires dressing down a little. Some clothes you’d need:

  • Branded black T-shir
  • Branded black jeans
  • Branded sandals / Weird Shoes
  • Branded black-rimmed glasses
  • Weird haircut (optional)

The trick is to look casual yet expensively dressed. Or you could head in the other direction and go for the ‘eccentric struggling artist’ look – that is, a massive head of hair in clothes even the Salvation Army would raise an eyebrow to.

Facial hair is a definite must if you want to appear more convincing – if you’re male, don’t bother shaving. A subtle moustache (think Frida Kahlo) if you’re a woman probably won’t hurt either.

The World’s Your Stage
Display unmistakable signs of deep interest at whatever you’re gazing at. Look tired, thoughtful and worried whenever appropriate, depending on whether you are discussing the direction art is taking, the local art scene or the art pieces themselves. 

Use words like ‘interesting’, ‘exquisite’ and ‘outstanding’ as much as possible and learn the ‘isms’ of art movements. Dropping terms like Surrealism, Cubism, Fauvism and Abstract Expressionism instantly identifies you as an observant student of art or what some call an ‘art shaggist’. 

The name game is another useful tool. Check out the works of international and local artists on the Internet to get a feel of what they’re like. When a painting strikes you as resembling say a Van Gogh or a Marcel Duchamp, you’ll be sure to impress with your knowledge in the Gods of Paint.

The Ego Should Never Land 
One of the most common mistakes art critics make when in discussion is turning the spotlight onto themselves instead of reserving the comments for the artwork. Artist Leon Dolle points out why art critics forget narcissism gets you nowhere, “It’s called ‘The Ego Overdose, where the art critic becomes more important then the piece of art.”

Unless you’re (un)dressed like Venus Rising From The Sea, don’t even think about hogging the limelight. The idea is to engage in a conversation, letting your views – however limited –about the artwork be known to the rest. 

Another rule of thumb – do not bring up topics that are expressly forbidden in the Rules of Talking About Art. Questioning the cost of a piece, for instance, is an absolute no-no because it’s all about the quality of the art, not the money.

Unlike the wet market, an art gallery is not a place you can bargain at and yell “How much!” across the room at the ah pek selling the item. And for heaven’s sake, don’t snigger and make lewd remarks about any body parts that may be on display, no matter how tempting it may be.

Make ‘Kiasuism’ Look Natural 
Abide by the rule of gluttony. When you’re done making polite noises about the exhibit, attack the wine, food and the opposite sex with gusto. When making your exit, don’t leave without first getting your salmon-odoured fingers on the door gifts, if any.



- Illustration Eclectech (eclectech.co.uk)

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