Degenerate Superheroes. Now their story can be told.
These prints come in two sizes: 30x40cms and 38x51cms. They’re sharply printed in black and celebrate the nonsense of modern job titles.
I tried to make them up, to give all their roles an edge of surreal daftness, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find the Logistical Optimisation Enabler (main picture) actually existed in some corner of a digitalised workspace in Reading or Felixstowe.
I’m doing paintings of them to elaborate the point a bit, to make what started out as celebrations of Polynesian sculptures a little more complicated. I’m giving them really messy textures and mysterious bits of hand lettering in a frantic bid for job satisfaction.
You’ll find all these prints to order in the shop. They’re 30cms square canvases and mounted on a stretcher. They’re very light and easily hung on the kitchen wall, or any wall come to that, but they do look more than fair under my mate Laurence’s kitchen clock.
This is what I wrote at the time; “I love ’em, those French and their cheeky shops. The chocolatier Joël Durand has a shop that just reeks of class and, er, chocolate; you’d think he was part of a huge chain with all his specially printed boxes and tissue paper. There’s a universe of difference in attitude between us when it comes to service; don’t ask me why, it’s a bit more of a vocation with them. I’d feel quite happy going to work at the Folie Du Pain… How couldn’t anyone?”
Above: Irritating Christmas card in the “See what I did there?” school of non-thought.
These are supposed to resemble notebook covers. The text is all filched from my notebooks, appointments, colour specs etc. I loved Basquiat’s early Warhol collaborations. But what did Andy think when he saw a nice logo he’d drawn covered in hip street language? “Er, very nice…you’ve actually drawn over everything… But. That’s. Fine.”
They look nice as T-shirts as well. What’s the point of wearing a T-shirt everybody understands? I remember Leon Russell, the white-haired musician famous for the Mad Dogs and Englishman project in 1970 being asked about a t-shirt with the legend Gil’s Barbershop. He wasn’t forthcoming.
Anyway, some of these are available in my Zazzle Store; a fine print-on-demand (POD) company that is very high quality and pretty firm in price. But now kids are paying £500 for a pair of blooming shoes. Wtf dudes?
I was scribbling at home and watching an old film of the Titanic’s sister ship entering New York harbour. Tugs and harbour craft were beeping and hollering like excited puppies. The liner answered with a blast that should have flattened Manhattan. Maritime metal. Totally badass.
I sketched Sun Ra on the iPad and then put him in a burning desert landscape. It suits him very well. He used to wear a lot of remarkable headgear as a signifier of his special status as an other-wordly being. Naturally the best of all these was this pharoanic number. He’s surrounded by scribbles that look like nonsense but are genuine bits of salvage from my work diaries.
I love that acceleration of ideas that embodied Miles and the fantastic band that led up to In A Silent Way in 69. The outtakes reveal a band totally at home with their super-confident and already legendary leader. It’s a bit lazy to call him the Picasso of jazz: he was the Miles of jazz, but his fame even by his early thirties was sufficient to make Davis redundant.
Most of the scribble is my friend Chris Howe’s transcription from a programme that dwelt on the hell of posh Mustique and the excitable babbling of an intimate friend of the late Princess Margaret. Frightfully. What a word. Like beastly. They’re only handed down to a blessed few. Thank Gawd.
The late and indisputably great Lester Young. From a drawing I did in 1990 and a mixture of poetry and the usual notebook stuff. What was tense fabric? Not another one of those mythical bands that populate my dreams and nightmares? Or was it just a note about, er, tense fabric. No. Come on.
A montaged peoplescape from pictures taken at the war cemetery at Tilly-sur-Seuilles in Normandy. Keith Douglas is buried there. It struck me, looking at the gravestones, some with inscriptions from parents, that are heartbreaking in their simple grief, that wars are fought by children. They are all kids, killing each other. So, amongst the subdued knot of onlookers, the ghosts look on, enjoying the sun, having a bit of a laugh.
The line “How easy it is to make a ghost”, comes from the poem How To Kill by Keith Douglas: Now in my dial of glass appears the soldier who is going to die. He smiles, and moves about in ways his mother knows, habits of his. The wires touch his face: I cry NOW…