Douglas Park, born: 23-01-1972, United Kingdom, visual artist, writer (of literary prose and critical essays, both mostly art connected), sometime exhibition curator (and increasingly all practices and roles combined), currently U.K based and internationally active
Destination discovers voyager. Travelator pavement delivers upright paralytic cadaver. Wrong-turning side-street and behind-the-scenes backroom gaping jaws beckon. Entire body and newfound territory pound out slow heavy deep bass pulsing beats, in tempo together, gaining ever intensifying momentum. Contagious radioactive infection of innermost thought, wish, whim and freewill-power, spills straight out from the head to visit and tour the world, while the world penetratingly invades and swims inside the head. Upon contact, the solidly fossilised pitch-black nightfall toxic-hazard coalfaces in this neighbourhood shall surely burn, sting, stain, soil, bruise and cut the person; although, obligingly enough, lurid flashing blood rose sunset and dingy fog-blanket smokestack supply shock-absorbent guidance.
Asleep, dreaming, worn-out, boarded-up window, fly-poster hoardings reawaken into technicolour flower, butterfly, jewellery, dragon, shooting-star firework-display fountains, e.g. kitsch glam’ camp chic look made of rough, dirty, crude, derelict and barbaric customisation, interior décor, cosmetics, ornament, packaging, gloss, commodity and promotional material — in a state of refined, precious, delicate, fragile and contemplative vandalism, defacing, waste, decay, damage and deterioration.
Glimpsed arrival, lingering and departure of somehow almost familiar, recognised and well-known, yet unplaceable total strangers, reveals silhouette motif low-profile mugshot icon portraiture sitters’ casting-couch screen-test audition for body-count i.d-parade catwalk roles in bacchanalian orgiastic mass carnage inferno. These hovering phantom spectres, haunt and patrol, incognito, wearing finery of armour-plated fancy-dress-party costume disguises of mournful sackcloth-and-ashes hood, cowl, visor, shawl, sari, cloak, drape, veil, shroud and gown — with festive war-paint carnival masks.
Time after time, again and again, 2 distinct, recurring figures attract and hold attention: the 1st one, prominent, bold, visible and actively posturing in the limelight, follows and even forges time-honoured roads, earning respect — and envy; then, a 2nd, far more solitary, seen to lurk, creep, duck, dodge, hide and run behind corners, away from view, enacting unclear conduct, deserves utmost contempt — but also fascination. Both personages find and make up all the rules, aim, score — and the actual game itself accordingly, whilst bulldozing their merry ways along on the job; sometimes, at certain stages, through mutual common-denominator go-betweens, they meet, cross, converge, overlap and intertwine paths with each other and brush shoulders.
Sporadic and ongoing, sudden, instant, gradual and emerging broken-off outbursts and sustained announcements of free-verse consciousness-stream prose, given out in a vernacular colloquial dialect slang terminology jargon, conveniently provide the following 5 helpful services: A.) faltering overdubbed voiceover, soundtrack, subtitles, interpretation, dialogue, script and running commentary; B.) local pirate radio station broadcast and reception to, from, against, around and throughout vicinity, persistent despite interference, background noise, signal distortion, atmospherics and disturbance; C.) estranged chatline ansafone comparison and swapping of mismatched and incomplete memo-pad note telegrams in stereophonic soliloquy monologue conversation; D.) ectoplasm and poltergeist teams whom scrawl, mutter, exclaim, pour, unravel, expose, smudge, erase and scour out desperate and urgent confessional diary entries, which alarm and reassure, warn and boast to all-and-sundry about this, that and the other; E.) spreading vague suspicions and wild rumours as to what might be original authorship and source, intended purpose, meaning, subject, target and consequence of such secret message publicity propaganda campaign evangelism.
Explanation / Apology / Excuse / Attempt
Originally generated in 2001, as an invited reaction to Trix Stephenson’s Wonderground solo exhibition at A & D Gallery, London. Sadly, there was never any outlet for usage or exposure, due to Trix Stephenson 1st changing his work in favour of other directions, then any and all such activity of his hitting a hiatus due to other commitments and ventures.
Around that time, Trix Stephenson was more than just some other worthy and exciting new arrival on the block and scene. Much interest and support followed for awhile. His energetic and raw but deep and serious work used scavenged paint and graphic materials for mark-making, not just being applied onto found host support surfaces.
This output split into 3 distinct but connected facets or personæ. The star (or decoy?) “Larry Large”, mostly involved in the adult-entertainment industry, ruthlessly ambitious or even already successful, hellbent on fame, money and possibly also power and influence (the works included many references to advertising, fashion, brandnames and consumerism); unusually for such concerns and subject-matter, complex and even cumbersome, yet still effective. The more marginalised and secretive, “Raymond Lee Chandler”, a misanthropic serial-killer, with much misplaced drive and planning behind their campaign (or mission), the paintings appearing like umpteenth rate (but nonetheless powerful, believable and insight-infested) brutalist toilet walls, with graffiti, stains and paintwork to match (surprisingly, sophisticated and mysterious, for all the directness and crudity). Less specified or defined, “Bobbie Delicious”, a female character, somehow having dealings with both “Larry Large” and “Raymond Lee Chandler”, not so prolific as the other 2; mostly represented by waist-upward humanoid figures, with gloved hands coming from the genital area; the few or only 3d works by Trix Stephenson were soft sculptures based on this motif.
A common-thread running throughout, was genuine exploration of the affinities and linkage between such behaviour, then to what extent they’re caused by and contribute to society, as well as public attitudes and perception towards them — including the extent to which we are all susceptible and implicated.
Circumstances surrounding ‘Neon Graffiti / Shadow Camouflage’ influentially entered the end-result and outcome. It had been on the cards to visit the show as promised. The day that happened began when I awoke to find myself in the toilets of the Royal Academy of Arts Schools, following an art award private view the night before. After explanation to good-humoured and sympathetic Royal Academy of Arts Schools staff, my 1st port of call was the Seeing Round Corners mini-retrospective of the (since lating-greating) sculptor, Barry Flanagan, at Waddington’s in Cork Street. While there, the phone rang. It was Trix, wondering if I was around, free and up for checking out Wonderground that day, because he’d be at the A & D Gallery then. Having nothing else to do meant I’d may as well go, so offer taken up and accepted. This meant making my way from Mayfair to Chiltern Street (in and near Baker Street / Marylebone / Bayswater / Portland Street / Regent’s Park), where A & D Gallery still gœs strong to this very day; o.k, so nothing difficult, unpleasant, unique or special otherwise, but journey, environment and experience became self-consciously aware-of, adding to pre-existent knowledge and expectations of what lay waiting. The only remembered visit along the way was Cornelia Grassi’s Greengrassi gallery, in those days based in Fitzroy Street, Fitzrovia (off Warren Street and Euston Road).
Not too much later, getting to A & D Gallery, meeting Trix again, seeing work, similar to and the same as what I’d already heard about and seen before and further discussions (with all that entailed and brought), all joined forces together, alongside every other external factor entering equation. Even more than usual for me, it became inevitable to play around with readymade (or even sometimes from-bad-to-worse) clichés of imagery conveyed, phrasing and embodiment, then how overall impression would be pulled off and come across. Doing my utmost to capture, save, preserve, emphasise and reinforce that which was then and still is so real and credible, to the best of my ability possible, hopefully without corruption or weakening of it.