Voice 1: Move over Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh, there’s a new artist causing a sensation in the art world. Art lovers could soon be falling over themselves to buy one of his paintings to take pride of place in their collections. This new much-sought after artist is called Brent. He’s thirty-seven years old and he lives in the American state of Louisiana.
Voice 2: Brent paints in the expressionist style. His work has been compared to the paintings of the celebrated American artist Jackson Pollock, who was famous for creating artwork by throwing paint at his canvas. He stretched his canvas on a wall or on the floor and walked around it, throwing paint from a brush or a stick.
Voice 1: In 2006, Pollock’s painting ‘Number 5 1948’ became the world’s most expensive painting when it sold at auction for a staggering 140,000,000 US dollars. Brent’s paintings don’t quite match that price yet, but they could in time. The art world is always full of surprises
Voice 2: Brent’s method of painting is as unique as Pollock’s. This exceptional artist paints with his tongue. He dips his tongue into whatever colour he fancies, and daubs the paint onto a blank sheet of white paper. His work usually features bright blobs of violet, blue and yellow, his favourite colours.
Voice 1: There is one more interesting fact about Brent. He is a chimpanzee. Brent is a retired laboratory chimp and currently lives at the Chimp Haven in Louisiana, a sanctuary for animals that were once involved in medical research projects or the entertainment business.
Voice 2: Brent hit the headlines this summer when he won a Chimp Art competition organised by the Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal welfare group in the world. The competition was judged by voters on the Society’s website and the celebrated primate researcher and conservationist, Dr Jane Goodall. More than 27, 000 people voted when the finalists’ artwork was shown online.
Voice 1: Brent won a prize of ten thousand US dollars. The second prize of five thousand US dollars went to Cheetah the chimp from the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Florida. Cheetah had spent nineteen years of her life in a medical laboratory and in that time had undergone more than four hundred liver biopsies. Ripley from the Center for Great Apes, also in Florida won the third prize of two and a half thousand US dollars.
Voice 2: All the animal sanctuaries in the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance had entered a piece of chimpanzee art-work created by one of their residents, and a final list of six paintings was drawn up to be judged.
Voice 1: The HSUS says it hopes that their unusual art competition has showcased the undoubted artistic abilities of chimpanzees, as well as shining a spotlight onto the individual sanctuaries that care for them. The paintings entered in the competition are going to be auctioned off to benefit the work of the HSUS.
Voice 2: When asked for a comment from Brent about his artistic success, a spokesperson for Chimp Haven said; ‘Sorry. No comment. I think he’s asleep!’