Interview by Louisa McFarlane, March 2011
Kirsten Anderson states in the introduction to the book 'Pop-Surrealism': “I was going to originally call it 'Lowbrow' but several key artists in the book didn't want to be in a book called that”. Were you one of the artists who were uncomfortable with the term? What are your thoughts on its use with regards to your work and to others’?
As a term which has risen from the Lowbrow movement, what is your take on ‘Pop-Surrealism’?
My only complaint with the term “Lowbrow” is that it defines the art in opposition to “Highbrow” art and I feel that any descriptive phrase for an art movement should be able to stand alone and not require a reference to any other art movement. So I obviously don’t approve 100% of the term “Pop Surrealism” for my work either. To me “Pop” refers to popular culture and I personally don’t make DIRECT references to it. “Surrealism” is okay with me but I hate art phrases that just add a qualifier like neo- or post- and pretend that there’s something new going on. The English language has enough words in it that an entirely new term can be reached.
There was quite a bit of warring going on during the early stages of this art movement as to what it should be called. Lowbrow was finally chosen but not after many other names had been refused. I mention this only to indicate that it was a long and drawn out process to reach the term “Lowbrow” and not a flippant choice.
What term (if any) would you use ideally to define your work?
Do you think terms for art are important?
Art terms are important because they are a sort of shorthand that get used to simplify discussion, otherwise one would have to describe the work repeatedly.
‘Lowbrow’ art has already evolved with the times; with the appropriation of newer and varying countercultural and pop-cultural aesthetics. Do you think the movement will continue to evolve, putting lowbrow on the fine art map? Where do you see ‘lowbrow’ art in the future?
Lowbrow Art was originally made up of may subgenres such as Graffiti and Surfer Art. Graffiti in particular is no longer a part of Lowbrow and has become its own freestanding “movement”. So in a sense I believe that true Lowbrow art is actually going to devolve as more of its constituent parts mature. Still, there will be artists who choose the Lowbrow aesthetic and the ranks will swell.
Unfortunately Lowbrow is an art movement that began before the rise of computer graphics and the internet so I am afraid that it will be seen in a more historical light and be noted more for what it led to than what is.
What are your feelings about the predominance of abstract, conceptual and minimalist art over representational art in the higher echelons of the art world?
There are many things that are best experienced in the “real world” and not the watered down version one sees in art museums. I find a collection of say, lost dog posters on telephone poles far more interesting than the same things presented in a book or on the white walls of a gallery or museum. So I don’t blanket condemn the theories behind conceptual and minimalist art, I just condemn the art! Abstract art is a whole different thing, many ideas can be expressed with that aesthetic that cannot be said otherwise; I do however shit on decorative abstract art which is just so much wallpaper.