Charles Saatchi may have divorced his wife Nigella Lawson and they may finally now both be getting on with their lives, after a period of difficult adjustment to the shock in the full spotlight of public attention.
However the triggering event for their decision to go their separate ways, coincidentally filmed live by another diner at a near-by table with a smartphone, has firmly entered into the iconography of our times.The relevant incident, which has been variously described as an alleged assault upon Nigella’s throat, or a playful piece of theatre, depending on whom one listens to, came during an evening meal the couple were engaged in at Scott’s Restaurant in London.Since then local artists have not been slow to jump on the bandwagon, with Pop-Art representations of the event, designed to be literal or symbolic interpretations of what may or may not have taken place there that evening.
In a supreme piece of self-reflexive irony, some of these art-works
became listed on Charles Saatchi’s, minority owned, online commercial art site saatchiart.com
. Artists can list works on the Los Angeles based site completely on their own initiative, without specific curation
by the online gallery itself, and with the site taking 30% of any sales revenues much like Apple’s App Store does.Yesterday Britain’s Mirror newspaper
pointed out that a number of art works by different artists have been available on the site illustrating the incident, with an implication that at the very least Saatchi may not have discouraged them.
The web site has however always eschewed artistic censorship of any kind, so the charge may be slightly unfair. While the website does indeed have some rules limiting content based on normal legal safeguards, offensiveness itself does not seem to be one of them.The Mirror is reporting Saaatchi to have said about it, “Would it have been a better story if I had censored artists whose work might be personally disobliging?” adding, “There are 40, 000 artists who showcase their work on the site so I think it’s a bit of a micro genre.”
On the other side of the argument the newspaper also quotes the CEO of Women’s Aid, Poppy Neate as saying, “It is extremely insensitive to all victims of domestic violence for someone who has accepted a police caution for assaulting a partner to earn commission on images of the offence, ” adding, “We are shocked that anyone would want to make a profit from images of abuse.”
While the images may indeed disturb some, the story has clearly entered into popular culture, and Pop-Art – with capital letters – has by now just as clearly absorbed the subject into its genre, which is in a way part of its job. As long as there is reasonable doubt about Saatchi’s intentions at the time, and since the matter was never litigated that remains the case, one cannot really complain therefore.
Perhaps, moreover, the metamorphosis of the event itself into art may, in some mysterious way, now even help the two parties encapsulated by it to move on.
Whether Mr. Udaiyan’s painting is actually worth $10, 000 or is just an example of someone crassly cashing in on someone else’s pain is another matter, maybe something for art critics and economic forces in the art market to ultimately determine.
Photos source: Saatchi Art.com