Crime and Punishment

Jonathan Grossmalerman, from the April 2013 issue

By Jonathan Grossmalerman

Jonathan Grossmalerman, Crime and punishment

I am not a naive man! I knew when I was invited to participate in a panel discussion entitled ‘Misery, Desire and Punishing the Crime of Painting’ that it would be no cakewalk, but I have to admit that even I never expected the intellectual mugging that would take place at the hands of that diminutive Irish critic Christian Viveros-Fauné. Oh sure, the papers had a fun time with it, calling me ‘slack jawed’ and writing that I seemed ‘slow witted’ and ‘visibly flustered’ but did they ever stop to think that maybe it was because I was absolutely flabbergasted! Hmmm? Maybe it was because the last thing I expected when I walked into NYU’s Center for Women’s Studies (a learning centre no less!) was that I was about to be mocked as a ‘garlic eater’, ‘sneak thief’, and ‘aper of his betters’. Did that ever cross those journalists’ minds? I mean, how was I to prepare for this incredible lapse in professionalism? To be called a ‘syphilitic criminal babbler’, ‘dainty cake’ ‘shit-a-bed’ ‘sly cheat’ and ‘hovel dweller’. How does anyone prepare for that? Most of which was really uncalled for. It was like a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from. Only much more boring.

I’d like to take this opportunity to refute some of Mr. Viveros-Fauné’s more outrageous claims. Firstly, I am not, as was inferred by my grotesque colleague, the mastermind behind the ‘Grossmalerman Loop’, an intricate and highly illegal financial scheme that’s too complicated to go into here but includes contemporary art exchanged for illegally harvested organs which are then traded for ‘blood diamonds’ and ‘bush meat’, which in turn are traded for humans, guns and ecstasy and then, finally, cash. The scheme is named after me due to some sort of misunderstanding stemming from a particularly violent studio visit I somehow survived. I am not sure how the two are connected but I may have mentioned it to a dealer who knows some people and the rest is history.

And Mr. Viveros-Fauné! I am NOT ‘in bed with’ the dreaded Mad Boer Slovo! While I may have ‘dined’ with him on a few occasions I couldn’t make out a thing he said due to his hideously flattened vowels. If we are in some dark business together it’s only because I was trying to be affable. Perhaps I smiled and nodded at the wrong time. Are you happy? And I am NOT responsible for the gangland style murder of Sergei Botkin, art critic for Moskovsky Komsomoletz, in retaliation for his terrible review of my career retrospective at MuCoAMo. The museum board there was unconventional to say the least and I’m surprised their curators didn’t murder me! Russia’s a different culture and you can’t go pinning western values on them all willy-nilly. (Fascinating place though. You really should go.)

Also, I can state confidently that ‘Each daub of my brush’ is most certainly NOT ‘a stab at the heart of all that is good and right!’ I only agreed with you at the time because I hadn’t worked out our parameters. I’m still not sure what they are! Good and right? In relationship to what??? And if my paintings are ‘thinly conceived’ and ‘exploitative and violent’ and if my ‘paint handling suggests the competence of a drunk nine year old’ or that I ‘wield my brush like a dull axe in the hands of a palsied executioner withdrawing from heroin’ or if it’s true that my artistic output represents ‘a one-man cultural holocaust’ then why does it do so well at auction? Hmmmm? Are you suggesting that all the Captains of Industry who pay outrageous sums to enjoy my work in the comfort of their own home or office are somehow morally deficient? It’s as though you think there’s something wrong with the way the world works! Is that it, Mr Viveros-Fauné?? Doesn’t feel so good to be in the hot seat now does it, Mr Viveros-Faune! Hah! Tumbled your game didn’t I?! It certainly feels good to have the last word.