Messy Paradise

I had a group crit recently where I showed everyone my 360 book and talked about maybe showing the book and some stuff on a specially built corner or maybe a comfy area kinda like children's sections of libraries. I think my ideas for trying to make my work easy to "get" for people viewing it in a formally exhibited capacity have become really restrictive. I should just do exactly what I want. After watching Basquiat last week I realised how much I missed making stuff with great looseness. I love making feverish, gloopy, messy paintings and scribbling over stuff in biro, and tearing chunks out of work. Being overly concerned with how people look at my work in a physical space (which I wouldn't care about if I wasn't at art school) has only made me boring.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's work is so influential in part due to what LA artist Lauren Halsey calls the "muchness" of his work. She says "Basquiat did a great job at creating these maximalist, everything surfaces. They’re greedy in a beautiful way."1

I had a real moment of awe when I first encountered Basquiat's work. I was in New York on an art school trip in January 2013, and I went to the Gagosian with three other students to see a Basquiat exhibition. The four of us were on a sliding scale from unimpressed to head over heels. I was the head over heels one. I loved the sprawling, scribbly mess of it. It looked as if the whole world was Basquiat's notebook.

What I want, I think, is to have big boxes and folders of work, to take them over to a wall space, and to rip them apart and arrange them and tape them to the wall with masking tape to make a great big collage. Maybe then I could also paint and draw on top of that composition. It would be a unique installation - only existing in that space. It makes sense as a continuation of all the collage work I've made in my 360 book. I realise now that I'm not really interested in exhibiting a book, or building a special space with shelves or a seat. I want to make one big wall collage which is an expression of myself and a visual celebration of the process of making it. I want it to be easy to make and cutely crude, because that's how I work naturally. I want a chaotic and unpolished assemblage of accumulated shapes and colours. A cloud of brightness and brush strokes and cartoon bunnies.

I've made all these paintings which are just shapes, colours, and movements. I'm making piles and boxes and books of work. It's exciting, feverish, and pointless except for my glee in doing it. It's like hiking or walking in forests or gardens - you're doing it just to look at everything and feel the fresh air and your legs moving. You don't necessarily have any thoughts about it, it's just beautiful and natural and you feel good. That's probably the thing, if anything, I would like to convey. However, I don't think it's necessary that people looking at my work see that. I just want them to see colour and mess, and to think whatever they want about that.

  1. Rogers, K. (2014). Beyond Basquiat. [online] Available at: [accessed 18 Nov 2014].

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