So the big question is why a gallery would ever remove an artist’s painting from the wall because a patron walks in and says it is derogatory towards women? Especially when it is not. Or even if it is. What happened to freedom of creative expression? This is exactly what happened yesterday to a painting by Bristol, UK-based artist, Miche Watkins. This type of censorship is reprehensible and forecasts an ominously slippery slope.
A patron is allowed to put forth any opinion regarding a work of art but for a gallery to then remove it from the wall? This particular patron, apparently a 30-something, American female, did just that: yesterday, she walked into Great White Gallery (same owners of Clifton Fine Art a few doors over on Perry Road in Bristol, UK) and after declaring Miche’s painting, "Tongue In Cheek" as “derogatory to women,” the painting was promptly taken off the wall after she left. While she was still in the gallery, the assistant present showed her more of Miche's paintings and explained the prominent role of strong women in the artist's work.
The profoundly clever and insightful art of Miche Watkins is anything but derogatory. Should photographer Robert Mapplethorpe be removed from walls, galleries, musea? Should we condemn Frida Kahlo for her painting, “The Birth,” in which she gives birth to herself, or, maybe, her fetuses are derogatory? Should we have gagged Madonna as she rolled around the ground singing “Like a Virgin?” (Incidentally, Madonna owns many of Frida's paintings.) What about Hieronymus Bosch’s painting from 1515 entitled “The Garden of Earthly Delights?” Even his provocative works have remained on walls since the 16th century, and today, are fully secure and safe on the walls of Madrid's Prado Museum since 1939.
I think not. We would rob the world of brilliant voices.
Miche's painting, "Tongue In Cheek," was inspired by "Dawn," a set of pink glossy lips by British artist, Krishna Malla. As many of her recent works illustrate, Miche is inspired by the abundant artistic talent found on the streets. Miche Watkins’ spectacular renditions of not only street art in general but of women in particular are far from derogatory. Miche is an artistic genius. It is appalling that her work could be deemed as anything such. This kind of censorship within the global art community should simply neither be tolerated nor condoned.