Review: The ArtGames Grand Final

Words by: Tahlia Sanders

The ArtGames has always prided itself on facilitating the meeting of disparate creative realms. Forcing the musos and artsy-types of Perth to unite whilst making art accessible to philistinic, everyday folk and hipsters alike. The grand final of The ArtGames was no different. When the two-hour countdown began on Sunday night, we witnessed two distinctive artists take their place at their canvases. A jovial but divided crowd watched on, composed of perhaps a few too many of the artists’ family and friends for the competition to be totally fair.

Edi Udo renowned for his graphic and fantasy-based style, kicked off his piece with his trademark meticulousness and concentration. His family supported him from the sidelines. James Giddy began at a much more leisurely pace, seemingly unrehearsed and unbothered. His artistic leanings, earthy and animalistic, were mirrored in his casual style.

The artists were painting to a theme: follow the leader.

The laneway beside The Good Shepherd had been kitted out to maximise the Sunday Barbecue vibes. The drinks and tunes were flowing. Chalk was passed around and the pavement soon became a piece of the art. DJ Andrew El Tarifa CB had the crowd and the artists nodding along, despite the pre-event controversy when bands Mossy Fogg and Choking Stanley were cancelled with little explanation.

Artwork by James Giddy. Image Credit: Yasmine El Kotni
Artwork by James Giddy. Image Credit: Yasmine El Kotni

As the night went on, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated at James Giddy. Whilst Udo invested obvious passion and precision into his piece, Giddy spent almost as much time away from the canvas as in front of it. He meandered inside for drinks, sat down amongst the crowd and encouraged members of the audience to contribute to his painting. Admittedly, when Giddy did take to the canvas, the result was beautiful but his seeming disrespect for the competition left a bad taste in my mouth.

Giddy’s final painting depicted a black swan gliding through murky-toned water, in what appeared to be a loose interpretation of the theme phrase (see: aforementioned bad taste). My boyfriend remarked that Giddy’s loose, abstract style paints just enough of the picture for you that you can craft the rest of the scene vividly in your mind. Udo, on the other hand, conjured up a mystical, multi-limbed, goddess-like creature, holding an orb above her head. Initially, I interpreted his work as having tongue in cheek religious references.

Artwork by Edi Udo. Image Credit: Yasmine El Kotni
Artwork by Edi Udo. Image Credit: Yasmine El Kotni

When the voting was done, Edi Udo was announced the winner and I sat down to discuss his work with him. His piece, he said, drew on his personal experience of quitting a job that he wasn’t passionate about to pursue a better one. He wanted to promote a message of following your heart. The woman in the painting has a void in her heart and is lifting the orb, as if to pursue a higher calling. The woman’s multiple limbs were intended to represent an after-image, where she has left behind her old life.

As part of taking out the grand prize, Edi Udo was awarded the opportunity to be a part of a group show at Studio 281 and will receive ongoing marketing, gallery experience and advice from ArtLab and Studio281, amongst other prizes.

As the crowd dissipated and the clouds began to roll in overhead, I ran off to present another offering to the parking meter.

It was a little sad to say goodbye after what has been close to a year of spectacular ArtGames events but the folks from The ArtGames aren’t leaving us to mourn for long. They’re a part of another event coming up this weekend. Be sure to check it out.