It was meant to be a tribute, but something went terribly wrong.
When award-winning artist Hugh Danlami Biri decided he wanted to add his voice to the cause of equality for striped and spotted Park Animals, he thought it best to use his considerable artistic talents to do so.
Enter his latest masterpiece, or as some are calling it, his “miss-terpiece” entitled, “A Change of Hugh.”
Biri’s tribute—a 76 cm x 51 cm painting in custom watercolours—was meant to highlight the professional similarities of two great (and striped) Park chefs, Tab Tricolore and Mikko Tiikeri, by differentiating them by coat colour.
“They have hair of similar colour and I was trying to pose the question, ‘What if we changed their colour? Would they be any less great in their kitchens? Would their restaurants be any less spectacular?’ Obviously, not,” Biri said in an interview on TMDTV.
“I thought we could then apply that logic to stripes and spots. Would they cook any better if their coats were of a solid colour? You see, when you say it out loud, it’s ridiculous,” he said.
Unfortunately, Biri’s logic was lost on the subjects of the painting, both of whom were quite disturbed by the change of hue.
“I wish they’d come to me right away and said, ‘We don’t like it.’ But they didn’t. They went after each other and, for that, I am very sorry,” said Biri.
Indeed, each chef blamed the other for what both agreed was a travesty.
First, Tab Tricolore accused Mikko Tiikeri of tinkering with the painting and darkening Tricolore’s hair, making him look ridiculous and effectively blackening his reputation. In response, Tiikeri claimed he had video evidence that Tricolore had removed the original painting from the Park Museum of Contemporary Art (PMoCA), where it is currently hanging, and replaced it with the darker one.
Biri says that would be next to impossible.
“It was difficult enough for me to do and, with all due respect, Tab Tricolore does not have the training to do that kind of work. I spent two months developing the colours and it took even longer to apply them,” he said.
Biri, who won the first Maple Tree Television (MTTV) Merging Artist Award* in 2012, has worked for years with a number of well-known Park artists developing watercolours. He says that success in the field takes time, patience, know-how, “and a little bit of luck.”
In the meantime, the two chefs, who had previously been on good terms, are not speaking to each other, nor to Biri.
“It’s a sad, sad situation and I don’t know what to do about it,” Biri says.
*Merging artists are artists who work in only one field of the arts and who collaborate with one or more other artists who work in another, distinct field.