Mojo Nixon aka Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr. (b. 1957).
Jello Biafra aka Eric Reed Boucher (b. 1958).
Henry Rollins aka Henry Lawrence Garfield (b. 1961).
Johnny Rotten aka John Lydon (b. 1956).
‘For me the subject of a picture is always more important than the picture. And more complicated.’
– Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
All kinds of images fire up my imagination.
One photo in particular has intrigued me so much that I have created three different interpretations – it is a snapshot of my guy’s birthday party, illustrated above.
The first incarnation, party, was highly influenced by my love of Jean Dubuffet’s art.
Then there was Birthday Boogies, a mixed media piece including soft sculptural objects that I call poppets.
The poppets were born from a fondness for dolls, puppets and masks. As a kid I adored The Muppet Show produced by Jim Henson, and the colourful characters of Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera cartoons.
After Birthday Boogies came Secret Robot Society, which incorporated my fancy of the Dutch Golden Age of painting.
After making Secret Robot Society I produced two more prints – Treacherous Boys With Charisma and The Ventriloquist – to form a trio of group portraits.
My creative process is very much about collaging together an eclectic range of source material to invent something otherworldly and somewhat absurd.
In the case of these prints I have referenced the Dutch painters along with TV shows, horror movie stars, dolls and puppets, as well as ideas about social hierarchy and esotericism.
And finally I should make mention of the beloved Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book!
PS: From now on I will be posting every Tuesday – until then, have a good week!
‘The fame of heroes owes little to the extent of their conquests and all to the success of the tributes paid to them.’
– Jean Genet (1910-1986)
I have a bit of a soft spot for sailors.
Several of my pictures salute the sailor man including Greasy Rhys, as well as his mates Rusty Steel and Topsy Turner.
Part of the inspiration for these works is the flash of master tattoo artist, Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins.
I am certainly not alone in my admiration of the sailor – other fans include:
Herman Melville, author.
Jean Genet, novelist, playwright, poet, essayist and political activist.
Otto Griebel, artist.
Paul Klee, artist and musician.
David Bowie, renaissance man.
Tom of Finland, artist.
Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion designer.
One of the things that particularly tickles my fancy about Navy culture is sailors nicknames.
Crew mates are given monikers such as ‘Chalky’ White, ‘Nosey’ Parker and ‘Smokey’ Cole.
The following print is a tribute to my great uncle, John ‘Dusty’ Rhodes (and it’s a tip of the hat to Bindie as well!).
You may have noticed the 8 balls on Dusty’s hands – these are a reference to the character Bean, in the movie Cadence.
It’s time for me to sail away so i’ll leave you in the capable hands of Turbonegro, performing their song Sailor Man…
And here’s a bonus sailor:
‘For a very long time I was too humble […] and lacking in confidence and composure; and I suffered cruelly because of this, appearing in my own eyes to be nothing more than the most abject dog turd. It was only at a late stage – when in the end I had resigned myself to living like a dog turd without shame or regret and making the best of the situation – that it dawned on me that everyone else was also a dog turd.’
– Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)
I love Jean Dubuffet.
While studying at university, one afternoon in the library when flipping through books in the art section, I turned a page and saw a reproduction of Man Eating a Small Stone by Dubuffet.
It turned my world upside down.
Early in his life, Dubuffet was influenced by the German psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn, and his book Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the Mentally Ill) published in 1922.
Dubuffet collected an enormous amount of work by psychiatric patients, prisoners and children. He invented the term Art Brut (raw art) for the work produced by these non-professional artists. The collection is now housed at the Musée de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Dubuffet once declared ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’
One of my most ecstatic art moments was visiting the Kröller-Müller Museum when in the Netherlands and encountering Dubuffet’s Jardin d’émail. Indescribable.
Dubuffet expressed that ‘Art should always make us laugh a little and frighten us a little, but never bore us.’
Put simply the guy is mind-blowing and his effect upon me has been profound.
So, who do you love?
‘It would be vain to try to put into words that immeasurable sense of bliss which comes over me directly when a new idea awakens in me and begins to assume a definite form. I forget everything and behave like a madman.’
– Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
Artists are often asked where their ideas come from. How the creative process works is difficult to describe verbally. So here is an illustration of the stream of consciousness that originated Greasy Rhys, who features on the invitation (image above) to my forthcoming exhibition Strokin’.
Let the show begin…