In ancient Athens, the painter Zeuxis and his contemporary Parrhasius staged a contest to determine which of the two was the greater artist. When Zeuxis unveiled his painting of grapes, they appeared so luscious and inviting that birds flew down from the sky to peck at them. Zeuxis then asked Parrhasius to pull aside the curtain from his painting, only for Parrhasius to reveal the curtain itself was a painting. Zeuxis was forced to concede defeat. Zeuxis is rumoured to have said: ‘I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.’
Although this is from Greek mythology, it is often repeated in other cultures, a story about two artists showing off in front of each other. (You can imagine Picasso and Braque doing the same thing in their studio, each fighting to find the soul of Cubism.)
This kind of competitiveness is not dissimilar to a cockfight: the male birds begin by an extreme display of feathers, strutting about parading in front of one another. They preen and show off. Then things escalate and the battle begins.
Studio 75 is going to host a cockfight: Nazir Tanbouli vs Jonathan Comerford.
Their work originates in graphic drawing; confident, expressive, and individual in style and technique. They are both accomplished and highly skilled artists with ideas, who’ve exhibited together before. But this is not an exhibition.
The Cockfight is an experiment: putting these two male artists together in a small space for a week, working with a range of drawing techniques on opposing walls. It will be a stressful and dramatic encounter between two strong-minded and stubborn characters. It’s also a really “male” kind of act, and it will be interesting to see how the unfettered-by-politeness testosterone fuelled project affects their work.
Nobody else will be allowed into the Studio until the doors are opened to public on the 17th of March, to see whatever the outcome of the experiment may be.
The idea behind The Cockfight is to turn away from all this is smooth, “cool” and non-confrontational in contemporary art today, and return to the more visceral, more ancient tradition of head to head competition.