Skullphone, London XX12 at Ivory & Black
by Chris Osburn
"I generally feel like when I read interviews when I speak that they sound very un-intellectual and not correct. So by all means if you need to take “likes” or slang out in between “ums” … By all means … There are so many levels to what I'm doing, and it is quite intellectual work as I move forward."
- Skullphone, July 20, 2012, London
So, the above quote comes from my recorded interview with LA-based street artist, Skullphone. It was taken at the opening of his first solo show in the UK, London XX12, at Ivory & Black in Soho … and it was his idea.
I had suggested that I would have been happy to email him a few basic questions that he could answer and send back to me at his convenience a few days later. But once I starting jotting down some notes, he asked why I didn't just record a voice memo of our conversation? Okay.
Honestly, Skullphone did kind of come across as “un-intellectual” and more than a little dude-ish. But, to be fair, he had just broken his foot two days before the opening of his show and his other foot was “fucked up” too (no explanation as to what happened to either was given). He appeared to be in a lot of pain actually and was, as he put it, “on a bunch of medications right now.” So all the “umming” and “liking” and round about descriptions of his work seemed more that forgivable considering his predicament (the man was chair bound and couldn't even get up to walk).
Still, the works he had on show were well executed. Contemplative stuff too. And his colloquial way of speaking about his rather conceptual and heady art was ultimately refreshing and came across much more sincere and earnest than if someone more intellectual and “correct” had been pontificating about it.
For London XX12 (a title “riffing off” the London Olympics as they superimposed themselves snugly over London for the summer), Skullphone presents works from his Digital Media series of dot paintings. He's been doing his labour intensive dotting since '09. According to the artist, they are “definitely the hard thing on this” as every dot is hand painted. They're mesmerizing shifty too. And upon first glimpse seem to indeed be digital images.
These “calculated fabrications for indoor viewing” (that's the press release talking there), may seem to be a departure from the large-scale outdoor work – especially his iconic skull with a cellphone attached sticker art – for which Skullphone had first became known. However, as the artist's self-imposed mission is to “document our interactions with technology” the XX12 exhibition is very much in line with his existing body.
These paintings comment on a world increasingly defined by connection and communication via brief technological encounters. With XX12, “advertising, government, private enterprise signage, real- and digital-scapes” are represented via a “deliberate grid system of red, blue, and green paint applied to reflective aluminium panels one dot at a time, creating pointillistic images that dislocate when approached.” (more press release quoting – but dude, that's killer.)
London XX12 is on now and runs until the 24th of August at Ivory & Black, 94 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0QF. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday 2pm to 8pm. In addition to the dot paintings, there's installation art and even Skullphone “branded” socks.
Find out more at http://www.ivoryandblack.com
Chris Osburn is an American transplant living in London where he has a blast working as a freelance photographer, writer, consultant, blogger and more. www.tikichris.com