Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hot Docs Mini Review: Beauty is Embarrassing


What is art? If you ask an artist, he or she would probably tell you that art is whatever you want it to be...as long as you are passionate about it. Beauty is Embarrassing is a film that focuses on the life of artist of Wayne White. Known for his work as a set designer and puppeteer for shows such as Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Beakman’s World, and his award winning work on The Smashing Pumpkin’s “Tonight Tonight” video; White spends most of his time these days creating wonderfully subversive art that has brought humour back to the art world. Neil Berkeley’s directorial debut effectively emphasizes the theme of joy that is often found in White’s work. Berkeley captures many great moments of White creating his various pieces of art. Besides seeing the creation of several of Whites puppets, including a giant head of Lyndon B. Johnson, the audience gets a step by step account of how White constructs his famous word paintings.

The film is told from the guise of a one-man show, in which White uses slides to reflect on his life and tracks his progression from fringe artist to mainstream success. White’s career is filled with many ups and downs, yet he never loss site of his wonderful sense of humour. Despite not being taken seriously by many influential critics in the art world, who believed that light-hearted art was too trivial, White persisted with doing what he enjoyed. Beauty is Embarrassing is as much a film about following your artistic passions as it is about having the proper people in your corner to provide support. Wayne White’s family is prominently featured in the film, and White constantly expresses the gratitude that he owes his wife, an artist herself, for the support and sacrifice she has given him. All the accolades that White has received over the years means nothing to White, as it is his family and his art that provides him with the greatest joy. Beauty is Embarrassing is a wonderful film that will encourage you to follow your passions...whatever they may be.

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