The Shrewd Idiot
The Shrewd Idiot by Pete Kennedy starts with a BANG in 1969 when the author starts to write words, wordz, werds, werdz. And continues to write… and draw, and paint and develop, both as an artist and a human being. If it swerves towards the self-indulgent at any point it is quickly pulled back by the author’s wit and honesty. It’s often compelling to see into the workings of an artistic mind, but it’s the way Kennedy connects the art and the everyday that keeps it readable until the end. An ending filled with copies of publishers’ rejection letters, giving their reasons why the book isn’t suitable for publication. It’s a nice touch that continues the self-mocking, self-questioning, but also self-believing thread that runs throughout the book.
From an initial glance it is obvious that this was going to be very different from previous works by the artist/author. G.Batch and Metamorphosis try to find a way of understanding life through objects, stories, beliefs, art and performance. Enbuk is like an unsorted suitcase of sketches, scribbles, photocopies and barely legible texts so chaotic that it is only possible to penetrate the surface of the artist’s practice. But with The Shrewd Idiot, Kennedy has found a method of collecting these outpourings together in a way that is not only visually appealing but leaves space for the reader to enter his world. And what a world it is. By turns colourful, drab, extraordinary, magical, banal, special and ordinary, but above all very real. Because the tales are so familiar it’s hard at times not to feel part of the story, to recognise the locations, the people, the smells, the challenges, the disappointments and the excitement.