"SLUMBER" Solo Show Interview With Rhys Brown 🐻 🐻 🐻

About The Art:
“I wanted to graf trains, 'tag the whole world'. Then I met this teacher Ian, who's a teacher with a glass eye from Zimbabwe. He really changed my perspective on art. He really pushed me out of my comfort zone and experimentation. He lives in Portugal now, he's such a nice guy. He taught me how to literally have fun making art. I was painting this thing I call an inkbox and he came along and said you need to experiment more - you’re just drawing characters. He like cut his finger on a staple and said 'Let’s have a bit of fun,' and rubbed the blood on my canvas. And I was like, 'what the hell?' and he was like 'You can do what you want in art' and showed me John Michelle Bastia. This guy put a nail through the front of his canvas and painted with ketchup and did whatever he wanted. Then I fell into more artists like Jeff Koon and Damien Hurst and I almost felt like my head blew off. I was exposed to a whole new world, not just gritty go-out-at-midnight with a spray can. More sort of like, you can do what you want? That sort of idea of destroying something. He let me set fire to my canvasses. The college would have gone mad if they found out. I used to set fire to my work in the art studios inside the college and throw paint at it and he'd just be there laughing like a crazy scientist. But he really opened that sort of side of me up.”
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“So what do you want people to feel when they see your art?
[long pause] … Maybe not feel but think. Um. Nostalgia. I want people to be taken back to a happier time in their life, a simpler time. To remind them of when they was a child. Some people have traumatic childhoods but I feel like a lot people have a time when they are a kid and it’s a thought that they think of when they are sitting in their office chair with stock numbers in front of them. Or the decision of arresting someone because they’ve done something bad. Like, when all is serious and really bad stuff is happening in the world I want people to think about a time when things wasn’t so bad. When they was happy. When on their birthday and they had a birthday cake and they were blowing out their candles. Christmas morning…
… it’s that nostalgic feel that I want people to have with my work.”
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“When I was doing research with my wife there’s a similar sort of process they do in Japan, or they did it years ago? When they used to catch fish instead of keeping them to show people they used to cover the fish in ink, put it on paper, remove it and put the fish back in the sea. The ink wouldn’t harm the fish but it’s called ‘Gyotaku.’ When someone asks how do I define my work in a few words I say it’s ‘Vegan Gyotaku.’ Some of the Gyotaku work is incredible, I love it. I think it’s great, but at the same how could you do that to an animal?”
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“I love that my work can get damaged. I love destruction. It sucks that I’m destroying the teddy bears, but I feel like I’m destroying them for good. Instead of them going into land fill, because I buy a lot of them from charity shops, I’m giving them a second life. Like, this bear that might have gone into the bin and someone’s gone, ‘No, I’ll put it in the charity shop.’ And in like sixty years, who knows, it might be sitting in the Tate museum. I love the idea that I’m giving it a second life. And I love destroying things to create new things”
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About the Upcoming Show:
“…you take a teddy bear when you go to sleep as a way to sort of hide from the monsters as a kid, as a way of comfort. Potentially you feel safe when you have this teddy bear next to you. So you won’t have that state of… fear or worry, when you go to sleep because you have your bear with you… I always find it hard to sleep when I’m hyped up from making work. And the meaning for ‘slumber’ is you’re awake, from what I’ve gathered, you’re not in a perfect state of sleep yet. You’re semi-conscious. That’s what I feel like. Like I’m in a constant slumber because I feel like my brain is still active. I wake up and I feel like I’ve been thinking all night. I just find it hard to sleep. I’m thinking about stuff that’s happening in the world and stuff like that so I feel like I’m in a constant state of slumber. So that’s where the name ‘Slumber’ comes from…”
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About Life:
“I’m originally from Stockwell. Lived there most of my life with Mum and dad. Really rough. Felt like every other day someone was getting stabbed or arrested. If you saw a group of guys you didn’t know you felt you had to run. Certain times I had to sign out mentally and just stay out of the way of the blood. There were certain times I'd just be trying to sleep and I’d get woken up to the sound of multiple helicopters flying over. They'd be looking for someone, or something crazy’s gone down. I'd always remember stuff like looking out the kitchen window at like 6am in the morning and you'd see people being cuffed by what was almost like swat team police. It was such a norm growing up in my estate. It was just like 'Oh yeah, someone got arrested,' it didn’t’ feel weird”
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