Have you ever heard of an art comic? Me neither… and that’s what makes Philip Gerald’s work AMAZING!
There is no denying that the art is inspired by David Hockney… but it’s David Hockney meets Beevis & Butthead, and while I would never have imagined that such a combination of high art and low (about toilet height) brow paradoxes would work, it does, and that is why Philip Gerald is FRESH FRESH FRESH! 100% FRESH!
Yes, the art looks like a child could do it, but the subjects are anything but childish. In fact they are very adult and would likely be pornographic if they weren’t poorly drawn computer illustrations.
HOWEVER… POORLY DRAWN IS INTENTIONAL… another brilliant boon to this master crafter.
I’m not going to lie, when it was first put before me to write about for TheYokko.com, I thought, “This is sooooo not what we’re about!” I was shocked, disgusted and even repulsed… AND NOW I LOVE IT!
Now I totally get why it is us! Seeing one piece is one thing… even two… However, seeing them large in a gallery with none other than Pop’s current Big Daddy Grand Pooh-Bah, Jeff Koons standing there loving it… well then the fun is BOOMING!
This art is not low, it’s high. And it makes me do something that I don’t recall ever doing from a painting, it makes me laugh and gives me the feeling of youthful naughty joy. It DEFINITELY titillates the inner child, especially the inner child that loves toilet humor, when we thought sex was dirty, and we were being “bad”.
These paintings only LOOK LIKE the scribblings of a very “bad boy” and yet they are purposeful, well thought out, well composed, and utterly unique.
The only other work of art that compares is the South Park Film, “Bigger. Longer. Uncut” which is truly a work of epic genius.
Not to be a contrarian, but since I know some people won’t get it, and some people will say, “My 4-year old could do better.” I’d say “Probably not.”
No, they do not have the arduous labour of the Sistine Chapel or even any realist or photorealist workmanship, but at a time when high art takes itself way too seriously and there is hardly any humor at all… Philip Gerald’s work fills a few holes that really need a good filling! (Pun intended!)
What inspires you to do Art?
I’m not really sure to be honest. I feel like I should say something about how I make art because I’m afraid of death [or that] I am so tough and nothing scares me. But it’s probably because I find it really easy. It’s easy because it’s fun to take the sum total of all your personal experiences and try to translate that into something universal.
All I ever think about is making things. I’m constantly coming up with terrible ideas until I come up with a great one, sit on it for a while and then realized that one of the bad ideas was actually way better. So yeah, art is easy but I guess your art being liked by others is not so easy, but the true artist shouldn’t care about that anyway so fuck it … except I do because I’m an honest artist and I think that my neuroses feed off of attention and I probably wouldn’t bother making art if no one was looking you know? I might be half joking but that doesn’t matter. I guess I inspire myself sometimes.
Also, I feel like every interview should yield at least one quote that will be in the running for some future Phaidon publication and now, while the question is vague, seems like the perfect time. Since just now I’ve always thought that art is the metaphysical shit of humanity. That was the quote. I pushed myself into a corner so I had to come up with something.
Where you reside? Why? & Does that play a part on in your work?
I currently reside in Dublin because that is where my parents live and “rent free” accommodation means more money for paint. But honestly, the locality has never really been a conscious factor in my work, there’s no site-specificity to what I do, I could do it anywhere and I’m sure it’d be the same.
I spend most of my time in my head and on the internet and that’s where I get all of my ideas, which are mostly bad, but there are a few good ones that I decide to act upon. I’m heading to Los Angeles for a while, so maybe this answer might change sometime in the future.
I see about three large shifts in your work from old to new. Can you tell us about how they came about? What caused those shifts and what they mean to you?
I started painting just over a year ago. Before then I was writing and before then I was in art college where my practice was centered around performance/social art. So I feel I’m still very fresh when it comes to painting. So those shifts in my work are simply me figuring out painting. I mean even now I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I really want to paint.
I’m starting to think that will never change so I’m learning to just paint what comes naturally. But there are things that seem to constantly reappear in my work like naked people or anthropomorphic clouds and shits, which I’ve always thought come from medieval art and the whole sublunary world/heaven complex they were all plagued with.
Bosch and those bois knew how to paint though, arrows in arses, priests with their pants down … this is actually pretty funny, I literally just said priests with their pants down and I got myself interested again so, naturally, I went to look for it to get a good laugh but his pants were on. I was confused. Then I looked through my notebook cause I was sure I had noted it somewhere. Turns out I hadn’t noted it at all. I just drew him with no pants myself because I thought it would make the painting better. Being easily distracted is the sign of a good artist I think.
What superpower would you have and why?
Probably something stupid like never needing to sleep or something. Sleep just gets in the way of things too much. It would be nice to be able to do without it. I’m kinda fond of my dreams though so maybe I’d figure out a deal where I could keep them somehow. But imagine how productive you could be if you never got tired. However, if I’m gonna be a real vanilla kid about it I’d like to be able to fly or read insanely fast. I never understood people who said they’d like to be able to breath underwater. I’ve held my breath for a while under water and I never once thought this is nice I’d like to stay here longer. There’s not much going on there. It’s the Beatles and Disney’s romantification of life under the ocean. I don’t buy it.
Is there a real-life situation that inspires you?
Yeah for sure. I have a very cool and very trendy form of anxiety which I think comes through in my work. It might not be so obvious to look at the paintings because they’re so brightly colored and obnoxious but they’re also quite uncomfortable and that’s kinda analogous with anxiety in general. I think it’s important to paint what you know. That being said it’s also a great idea to paint what you want to know. Either way, embracing contradiction is a must.
What artist do you most identify with? & why?
I love Andy Kaufman for taking jokes too far. The idea of something, initially, being funny but then slowly and often painfully becoming its antithesis is really quite incredible. It’s why I’m such a Bruce Nauman fan boy. His pratfalls and clown torture pieces work the same way – they quickly become very hard to watch. When the artists intention isn’t wholly apparent and you’re left with something perplexing – that’s a good time. If art is over-explained it ends up being kinda boring. It’s what I’m trying to do with my paintings beneath all that colour, all those smiles and stupid childish jokes I want there to be something serious or at least something that gives you a twitch in your nice parts. Whether I’m actually achieving it is another thing altogether but I don’t really care because I’m having an okay time.
What is your dream project?
I’d love to replace absolutely every work of art in the Met with a really crappy brightly coloured bootleg version I made and neither I nor the met would tell anyone before hand. Or maybe I’d get rid of everything in the Met and write a note that says ‘there used to be culture here’ and call it The Meta. That would be really funny. Either that or I’d like to make some spicy home alone memes with that art world bad boi Jeff Koons.