Interview by Jamie Sanchez, September 4, 2008
Are you a white person?
I am a Caucasian, born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean to a Welsh and Dutch family.
Are you an artist?
I began to draw at an early age and was greatly encouraged by my parents. I was taken on trips throughout the world and spent a lot of time visiting local museums and meeting artists.
In your manifesto you end with, "Art is meant to address the fundamental injustices of life, not the manufactured inequities." What is a "fundamental injustice of life?" Can you give an example?
We are all born into situations that are not of our choosing; as a result we can suffer financial and racial discrimination that is based on who we appear to be, and not who we are. A major “fundamental injustices of life” is the misery that people experience from these bogus attitudes.
What is a "manufactured inequity?" Can you give an example?
“Society” is based on abstract concepts that have been forced on human populations to categorize and divide. The idea that different social groups like celebrities or office workers cannot relate to artists or ditch diggers is a manufactured inequity.
Why should Art address the "fundamental injustices of life" and NOT address the "manufactured inequalities?"
At the time I wrote that statement I was felt that art had a responsibility to take on issues that have concerned people since art was first used as an instrument to broadcast information, themes that have moved people for thousands of years. In retrospect, I think that art can concern any issues that the artist cares to address.
Would it be correct to say that the statement, "Art is meant to address the fundamental injustices of life" is similarly saying that Art is meant to be used to make people aware of the 'fundamental injustices of life'? Once the people are aware, then what? Is there a specific action that people will engage in once they are aware of the 'fundamental injustices of life?
All art is propaganda; a work of art is created to make the viewing public aware of issues that concern the artist; beyond that the artist has no control. Leon Golub’s paintings of torture certainly make people aware of the horrors going on in other countries but only a small percentage of those people are going to do anything about it. The noble approach is to continue making art in the face of that rejection.
Can you say anything about your EXPERIENCE as a Caucasian in a world where Racism exists, as it pertains to producing propaganda for the public?
As a “white” person I am born guilty of crimes I never perpetrated, just like the first post WW2 generation of Germans who had to cope with their assumed guilt for the Holocaust. Once I made a painting of a black cat picking up cigarette butts at a hot rod car show and more than one person seemed to think it was a “black” person that I was depicting. Apparently, sensitivity to racial issues transcends species!
Are any of your efforts to help establish an Art movement? If so, movement to get what accomplished? OR movement as a continuation to previous movements? In your opinion, to what point and/or state have previous Art movements brought people to and to what point and/or state should Art movements take people to?
I have been making art seriously for over 25 years. When I started doing my cartoon based paintings I had no idea that later I would be considered one of the originators of a style of art known as Low Brow. I did not set out to establish an art movement but eventually I realized that many other artists shared the visual vocabulary I was using.
Art movements are created by a number of artists sharing a common aesthetic. The critical establishment can ignore a single artist, but a group of artists cannot be neglected; there is power in numbers. Art movements may eventually wear themselves out but, in effect, successfully create their own replacement. Art movements provide a safe base for artists to explore a new aesthetic; the irony is that by subscribing to a particular movement, artists effectively make themselves obsolete in the future.