We know him as the creator and star of the British comedy series “The Mighty Boosh”, and host of “The Great British Bake off,” but Noel Fielding is also an established and prolific painter and Guest Artist for The Other Art Fair London. With the postponement of the spring London fair and launch of The Other Art Fair Online Studios, Fair Director Jess Chow caught up with Noel to chat fantastical creatures and the sensuality of colour.
You paint huge, emotive artworks. What do you love most about paint?
I use my hands so I guess I love the feel of it, the smell of it, the colours… It’s not sexual but it is sensual in a way….I often paint my canvases first with ink and then apply the paint over the top of that which makes the paint glide on easily. It’s all about the speed – trying to get down the imagined images in my head onto the canvas as quickly as possible, even brushes and mixing paint slows me down too much. I try not to overthink it and work intuitively, tapping into my subconscious.
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Lots of your artworks feature characters – Animals, acid mouse, the Queen, a footballer, faces… What’s the story behind some of these characters?
The characters I paint are often fantastical, usually half human half animal, strange magical beasts who roam my subconscious. It’s the same in my comedy – I’d rather play Old Gregg, a transexual Merman, than someone who exists in real life. Acid Mouse is one of the characters I’ve painted a lot in the past year. He is a strange seven foot upright mouse with no arms, and breasts – he speaks through his tits and has shoes made from melted bubblegum and broken pieces of the American dream. He lives in Miami, and looks like an extra from Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas. He dresses in a slightly tropical way, often wearing golf clothes, and carries a gun. He’s always going somewhere, loping through Miami at dusk on a mission. He consumes guns, cars, cigarettes and hamburgers. Acid Mouse is out of his mind of a cocktail of dangerous pharmaceuticals. He mumbles to himself as he walks and dreams in the day time. Acid Mouse could easily exist in one of my comedy shows. I’d like to play Acid mouse at some point! I would like to wake up realising I have Morphed into Acid Mouse and then go to Tesco metro with a mechanical crab who taunts Canadians.
Colour is also very prominent in your works. What inspires you about colour?
Colours are everything! That’s why Basquiat is the greatest – the colours he puts together are sensational. It’s also why I love Karel Appel (perhaps even more than DeBuffet) because he uses bright pure colours which really appeal to me. If the balance of colours is wrong on one of my paintings then I can’t live with it and the painting has to be destroyed (along with me and all my friends and everyone else in the world)
What’s your ‘studio sound’? What do you listen to whilst you work?
I love music but to be honest once I start painting I go into a sort of dream state and can’t really hear anything. There could be a lion roaring next to me and I wouldn’t notice. I often start painting to the beginning of an album, like Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe, and when I come to again the album is over, it may have even looped over 5 times. I’ve missed important things in my life because of painting… It becomes an obsession… Especially if it’s not going right… You have to stay there until it’s acceptable again only then you can leave…
And what other artists are you following right now?
Obviously there are the big guns that stay with you for the whole of your life, for me that’s Karel Appel, Basquiat, Asgar Jorn, DeBuffet, Sidney Nolan, Rousseau, Magritte, De Kooning, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Don Van Vliet, Bob Thompson, Bill Traylor, and Alejandro Santiago (and that’s just naming a few). In terms of contemporaries I love Dale Lewis, Sidney Tedoruk, Catherine Cassidy, Emanuele Tozzoli, Rhys Lee, Bianca Fields, Baz Kosters, Cynthia Cruz, Sam Harris, David Norro, Leyman Lahcine, James F. Johnston, Daisy Parris, James Ostrer, Billy Bagilhole, Hayden Kays, Tomo Campbell, Huey Crowley, Filthy Ratbag, Anke Weye, Sam Harris, Paul Housley, Karl Bielik, Laurie Vincent and my boy Darius Trabalza – I also love loads of the artists at the Don’t Walk Walk Gallery (where I last exhibited) including Neil Kelly. There’s loads more, I discover new artists I love all the time on Instagram which I can spend hours scrawling through getting inspired by all the incredible new art out there.
Noel is selling 15 original drawings on The Other Art Fair Online Studios, and will be exhibiting at The Other Art Fair London later this year.