Thursday, March 4, 2010

Archibald Prize entry portraying Dennis Ferguson

One thing I've always found a bit creepy about artists is their attitude to criminals. They tend to think that it's somehow insightful to sympathize and identify with them. Here's an example:

Trent Hotten has painted a picture of convicted pedophile Dennis Ferguson posing with his mate and supporter (and convicted bank robber) Brett Collins and submitted it for consideration for the Archibald Prize:

''Everybody hates it. My wife said it made her want to vomit. I've had threats made against me. Everyone told me not to put it in, but I think it was something that had to be said. I felt very moved by the way that both men have been treated.''

Hotten portrays Collins as
a heroic figure shielding a sinister-looking Ferguson from TV crews.

So Hotten is completely oblivious to the damage the pair have done to other people's lives. He's just concerned about the way they have been treated. And they are the victims as far as he's concerned.

Sure, the media have gone crazy with Dennis Ferguson. He is so despised by people generally that he's sure to beef up the ratings every time he's shown on the television. And there's certainly some cynicism in repeatedly doing stories about him. However, it's hard to have sympathy for him considering what he's done - and repeatedly.

Ultimately, I believe the painting reveals more about Hotten himself than it does about his subjects and their plight.

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