In conversation with Paul Compton

 

Black Horse of Sutton by Paul Compton

 

Paul Compton is a visual artist who lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.

Through his art Paul creates a magically haunting world for us in which to dwell.

This week I had a chat with Paul and this is what we nattered about…

 

The Phantom Limb by Paul Compton

 

Rona: Please describe your art for us.

Paul: I make drawings, prints, books and zines. I’m intrigued by the curious and dark aspects of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. I am continually interested in the occult, literature, folk lore and outsiders. I tend to suggest narratives in my work that blend sad and grim elements of life with humour.

 

R: Which of your art making tools is the favourite?

P: My old-fashioned dip pen.

 

The Parlour by Paul Compton

 

R: When you are making art what do you like to listen to?

P: I love listening to music / musicians that are either obscure or largely forgotten. It feels special to know that I might be the only person in the world playing their song at that exact moment. I adore folk, 80’s & 90’s New Wave and Goth Bands, theatre musicals, bluegrass, classical (Scriabin is my favourite), 1970’s Glam Rock and any obscure German Chamber music I can get my hands on.

 

R: Who has influenced or inspired you art wise?

P: Odilon Redon, Gustave Dore, Edward Gorey, Peter Blake, James Ensor, Paula Rego, Vilhelm Hammershøi and more recently Grayson Perry. The most inspiring artists are the ones I see exhibiting regularly in Melbourne. I see their work progressing and they inspire me to keep going and attempt to get better at what I do each time. They have truly unique and personal styles which I find very encouraging. These artists include Deborah Klein, Shane Jones, Petr Herel, Steve Cox, Rona Green, Sheridan Jones and Jazmina Cininas to name just a few.

 

To Possess You With by Paul Compton

 

R: Where do you like to go to see some art?

P: I love the NGV International, Hand Held Gallery, Australian Galleries, Sophie Gannon Gallery, c3 contemporary art space, Craft Victoria and Bundoora Homestead.

 

R: What are your favourite horror film and ghost story?

P: My favourite horror films aren’t gory ones, more subtle and quietly disturbing. The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby are my favourite bedtime flicks. My favourite ghost story involves the Black Shuck which is a fierce, ghostly black dog that famously appeared to a church congregation in Blythburg, England in 1577. It killed two people, caused the church steeple to collapse through the roof and as it fled into the mist it left scorch marks on the northern door which can be seen at the church to this day!

 

Bat / Saint by Paul Compton

 

R: Why did you become an artist, and what do you enjoy most about the artistic life?

P: It is the only thing that gives me a true sense of an identity. When you put on an item of clothing it is designed by someone else and someone else in the world might be wearing it too but with making art it is purely the amalgamation of all the things that interest, inspire and scare me most. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I finish an exhibition because then I can move on to my next one!

 

 

If you would like to view Paul’s art in the flesh go see his exhibition Domestic Disturbance at Hand Held Gallery, Suite 18 Paramount Arcade, 108 Bourke Street, Melbourne, running from 28 June til 21 July 2012.

You can check out more of Paul’s wonderful work by clicking on these links to his redbubble profile and blog.

 


Fantastical travels

 

‘All fantasy should have a solid base in reality.’

Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)

 

Max Beerbohm

 

Please join a tour of the creative thought process that lead to my series of prints titled Borneoids.

 

A French made map of Borneo

 

Borneo, the third largest island in the world.

 

The Wild Men of Borneo

 

The mysterious island lends it name to quite a few modern wild man myths such as Hiram and Barney Davis (aka Waino and Plutano) who were transformed into the Wild Men of Borneo earning a great sum of money as side show stars.

 

Statue of cats in Kuching

 

Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, Borneo and is also known as Cat City.

 

Another cat statue, Kuching

 

Cat City is riddled with wacky cat sculptures as well as real life felines nosing around.

 

Dayak headhunter

 

The Dayak are the native people of Borneo.

 

Traditional Dayak tattooing ceremony

 

For the Dayaks headhunting and tattooing are important ritual activities.

 

Borneo tattoo designs

 

The Dayak are traditionally animist in belief and their tattoo designs are sophisticated stylisations of flora and fauna.

 

Rafflesia

 

One particulary impressive plant native to Borneo is the Rafflesia.

 

Borneo rosette design

 

The Iban in particular are a heavily tattooed branch of the Dayak peoples of Borneo.

 

A swanky Iban man

A swanky Iban man

 

The Great Omi (aka Horace Ridler, 1892-1969) was a professional freak.

 

The Great Omi

 

Part of Omi’s side show schtick was claiming to have been captured and tortured via tattooing in New Guinea.

 

George Burchett tattooing Omi

 

Actually he was inked by the ‘King of Tattooists’, George ‘Professor’ Burchett.

 

Dalmatian

 

Who doesn’t love a black and white patterned animal?

 

Rona Green, Dally-boy, 2006, linocut & watercolour, 69 x 55 cm, edition 23

 

Rona Green, Cutter, 2006, linocut & watercolour, 69 x 55 cm, edition 23

 

Rona Green, White Rajni, 2006, linocut & watercolour, 54.5 x 38 cm, edition 23

 

Rona Green, Goo Goo Man, 2006, linocut & watercolour, 54.5 x 38 cm, edition 23

 

Be sure to check out this mesmerising little clip of The Great Omi.

 

 


Don’t tell me what to do

 

Mojo Nixon

 

Mojo Nixon aka Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr. (b. 1957).

 

 

Jello Biafra

 

Jello Biafra aka Eric Reed Boucher (b. 1958).

 

Henry Rollins

 

Henry Rollins aka Henry Lawrence Garfield (b. 1961).

 

Johnny Rotten

 

Johnny Rotten aka John Lydon (b. 1956).

 

John Lydon on TV show Judge Judy

 

Pit Bull Terrier

 

Pit Bull Terriers

 

Cheeky doggies.

 

King of ?

 

13 is lucky for some

 

Naughty boys.

 

Unit 4 corridor Jika Jika

 

Pentridge Prison.

 

Rona Green, Mr Correct (Hank), 2011, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76 cm

 

Rona Green, Mr Correct (Reid), 2011, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76 cm

 

Rona Green, Mr Correct (Junior), 2011, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 76 cm

 

Justice.

 

 


Strange soirées

 

Diane Arbus, Transvestite at her Birthday Party, N.Y.C., 1969

 

‘For me the subject of a picture is always more important than the picture. And more complicated.’

Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

 

Boogie's 6th birthday party, 1978

 

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.

 

Rona Green, party, 1995, lithograph, 17 x 30 cm, edition 4

 

Then there was Birthday Boogies, a mixed media piece including soft sculptural objects that I call poppets.

 

Rona Green, Birthday Boogies, 2002, mixed media, 27 x 35 x 3 cm

 

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.

 

Jim Henson and Muppets

 

After Birthday Boogies came Secret Robot Society, which incorporated my fancy of the Dutch Golden Age of painting.

 

Rona Green, Secret Robot Society, 2002, linocut and watercolour, 49 x 70 cm, edition 13

 

Favourite artists from this period in art include Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Thomas de Keyser.

 

Rembrandt, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632

 

Frans Hals, Regents of the Old Men's Almshouse, 1664

 

Thomas de Keyser, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Goldsmiths Guild, 1627

 

After making Secret Robot Society I produced two more prints – Treacherous Boys With Charisma and The Ventriloquist – to form a trio of group portraits.

 

Rona Green, Treacherous Boys With Charisma, 2003, linocut and watercolour, 49 x 70 cm, edition 13

 

My creative process is very much about collaging together an eclectic range of source material to invent something otherworldly and somewhat absurd.

 

The dashing Bela Lugosi

 

The debonair Vincent Price

 

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.

 

Rona Green, The Ventriloquist, 2004, linocut and watercolour, 49 x 70 cm, edition 13

 

Old time ventriloquist

 

Thunderbirds - Brains and Scott

 

And finally I should make mention of the beloved Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book!

 

The Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

 

Boogie's robot cake à la The Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book

 

PS: From now on I will be posting every Tuesday – until then, have a good week!

 


Well hello, sailor!

 

Savvy old school sailors

 

‘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)

 

Portrait of Jean Genet by Richard Avedon

 

I have a bit of a soft spot for sailors.

 

Rona Green, Rusty Steel, 2009, linocut, ink & watercolour, 38 x 28 cm, edition 13

 

Several of my pictures salute the sailor man including Greasy Rhys, as well as his mates Rusty Steel and Topsy Turner.

 

Rona Green, Topsy Turner, 2009, linocut, ink & watercolour, 38 x 28 cm, edition 13

 

Part of the inspiration for these works is the flash of master tattoo artist, Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins.

 

Norman 'Sailor Jerry' Collins (1911-1973)

 

An example of Sailor Jerry tattoo flash

 

I am certainly not alone in my admiration of the sailor – other fans include:

 

Herman Melville, author.

 

Friedrick Ledebur as Queequeg in the 1956 movie adaptation of the 1851 novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville

 

Jean Genet, novelist, playwright, poet, essayist and political activist.

 

Querelle of Brest by Jean Genet

 

Otto Griebel, artist.

 

Otto Griebel, Ship Boilerman, 1920, oil on canvas

 

Paul Klee, artist and musician.

 

Paul Klee, Sinbad the Sailor, 1928, watercolour on paper

 

David Bowie, renaissance man.

 

Aye aye, David Bowie!

 

Tom of Finland, artist.

 

Tom of Finland, Sailors, 1985, pencil on paper

 

Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion designer.

 

Advertisement for Jean Paul Gaultier's 'Le Male'

 

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.

 

John 'Dusty' Rhodes and Bindie

 

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!).

 

Rona Green, Dusty Rhodes, 2011, linocut, ink & watercolour, 76 x 56 cm, edition 23

 

You may have noticed the 8 balls on Dusty’s hands – these are a reference to the character Bean, in the movie Cadence.

 

Charlie 'Bean' Sheen (pictured left) in 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:

 

A hirsute seafarer

 

Hold fast!

 


Who do you love?

 

Jean Dubuffet, Self Portrait, 1966, marker pen on paper

 

‘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)

 

Portrait of Jean Dubuffet by Marc Trivier

 

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.

 

Jean Dubuffet, Man Eating a Small Stone, 1944, lithograph

 

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.

 

Hans Prinzhorn 1886-1933

 

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.

 

Heinrich Anton Müller, Man with flies and snake, c 1920s, crayon drawing

 

Adolf Wölfli, Saint Adolf wearing glasses, 1924, pencil on paper

 

Dubuffet once declared ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’

 

Jean Dubuffet, Pisser at the wall, 1945, lithograph

 

Jean Dubuffet, Bertelé Mondain, 1946, oil on canvas

 

Jean Dubuffet, La belle encornée, 1954, oil on canvas

 

Jean Dubuffet, Le deviseur II, 1969-1970, epoxy resin and polyurethane paints

 

Jean Dubuffet, Cabinet Logologique, 1967-1969, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints

 

Jean Dubuffet, Closerie Falbala, 1971-1973, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints

 

Jean Dubuffet, Portrait d'homme, 1974, mixed media on paper

 

Jean Dubuffet, Mêle moments, 1976, mixed media on canvas

 

Jean Dubuffet, Jardin d'émail, 1974, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints

 

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.

 

Rona Green atop Jardin d'émail

 

Dubuffet expressed that ‘Art should always make us laugh a little and frighten us a little, but never bore us.’

 

Jean Dubuffet driving some hot wheels

 

Put simply the guy is mind-blowing and his effect upon me has been profound.

 

Rona Green, party, 1995, lithograph

 

So, who do you love?