Whilst galivanting around Edinburgh during my recent birthday escapades (god, he never shuts up about his sodding birthday, does he?) Vikki and I managed to take in a lot during a very small period of time. The Christmas market, which was due to open on the Friday we were there, actually didn’t until the evening which was after we had left. This reminded me of Bridlington and all the lovely things that were closed due to the timing of our visit. We did, however, get to walk around the lovely National Gallery which had huge paintings of this and that. Not being an art person myself it was nice to pretend to be a posho and gawp at all the Georgian and Elizabethan works of art all the while wondering when I could eat again and where the gift shop was.
I then came across a monkey in a painting and, boy, wait, there is actually a whole painting to go with the monkey. As I stepped back to look at the entire thing I realised that I didn’t have a clue what any of these paintings meant. Some were nice, some were food for the soul (blah blah blah), most were expensive firewood. I don’t know, you don’t come here for intellectual musings. I’m the dick and fart jokes department so let me tell you I was way out of my depth.
The plaque stated that, “the precise meaning of this rare secular work by El Greco is uncertain. The boy’s act of kindling a flame may allude to the arousal of the sensual passions. A monkey in art is often symbolic of vice, while the man grinning inanely could represent folly. The painting may thus illustrate the simple moralising message that lust appeals to our foolish and baser instincts.”
Art is subject to interpretation and any meaning could be correct. I will, however, volunteer my own thoughts:
- Nobody is grinning inanely. The fisherman on the right is clearly a pyromaniac and is looking for some cheap thrills before he has to go back to, I don’t know, the North Sea or wherever he’s working. He looks tired more than anything else.
- The boy needs a hobby. Maybe he’s lighting the thingy for attention? Come on, little Billy, go learn how to grift or dance for pennies on the corner.
- Once you see the monkey you can’t un-see the monkey and therefore everything else in the painting is irrelevant. He may as well have only painted the monkey which is a stellar painting of a monkey. 10 out of 10
This may carry on into a regular series because I feel as though art and art appreciation could be a new career for me in 2024. I’m clearly very good at it and you should always do what you’re good at.