Interview by Javier Melian for www.thepalettepages.com
Scandal Vandal – Interview by Javier Melian
Let me ask you to do a small mental exercise and try to set yourself back in time to the first time you met a clown, a circus clown that is.
Remember the, repulsion, excitement, and fear? Well, that’s exactly what I experienced a few weeks back when I went to Espacio Gallery in Shoreditch and bumped into this art work called “no one can save you” by a British artist called Paul aka Finsbury Park Deltics. It was a moment of mesmerised hypnotism, a WTF moment until someone pulled me away to introduce me to some people. Then my best friend came round and told me “come! you’ve got to see this! you’ll love it!” and again took me to the twerking Jezebel! Deja-vu of my father pushing me towards the clown!.
When one grows up everything becomes more Marmite like. Love it or hate it; this or that; Black and white with fifty shades of grey in the middle. But this kind of all at once feeling is mostly reserved to childhood or to some past relationships we better not bring to mind, so thanks Paul for this instant reconnection with my inner child.
Paul has been drawing since a very young age, mainly to alleviate his childhood angst and later to alleviate the pressures and frustrations of a stressful job. He was once in a band; apparently they were absolutely awful so he says. The only thing good about them was the name – The Finsbury Park Deltics. So when he started getting serious about art he resurrected it as an outsider-type nom de plume.
Initially he only produced art for himself, until his circle of close family and friends challenged him to share it. He has toyed with various styles that he now juxtaposes, blending pop, street, and distorted shapes with intricate drawings and a zest of steam punk. Indecency and humour are key traits of his work, but he goes much further from the punt, to show really elaborate pieces soaked with class, social and sexual self-criticism and satire.
We should all buy one of Paul’s works and display it in a prominent place at home. They are great dinner party ice breakers especially when making new acquaintances. Listen to your guests comments and discern who will eventually become your friend, and when they leave, pour yourself another drink, look at the painting and feel once again how it felt meeting a clown for the first time.
Self taught or art school?
Self-taught. Totally untrained. Having said that though, growing up, I always had a pen in my hand. I was obsessed with science fiction and so I doodled spaceships. And I’ve always been heavily into cartoons and popular culture. This probably comes out in the work. Life got in the way though and I never went to college or anything like that. So I’ve always dabbled basically, but only relatively recently have I tried to ‘do’ something with my work, in terms of trying to get it out there and seen by people. This followed some friends seeing some private scribblings and encouraging me to have a serious go. They empowered me and I will be forever grateful to them. I’m still totally humbled that people want to see my work. Really. I guess that going to art school does give you something (openings if nothing else) but there really is some tosh spoken about it all, in terms of you not being the finished article or that you will be forever ‘naïve’ if you haven’t been (stand up Grayson Perry, Reith Lectures 2013). Some of the best art I’ve ever seen has been sprayed on walls.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
If I had to pick one, it would be Torpedo Los by Roy Lichtenstein. Being a massive fan of pop-art, I’ve obviously been into Lichtenstein and I saw this in the flesh at a London retrospective a couple of years ago. Although all of the really famous works were fantastic (such as Whaam! and “Oh Jeff, I Love You, Too, But…”), this one, that I’d not previously been aware of, absolutely mesmerised me. The bold colours, the vibrancy – just magical. This really is an acknowledgement that comic art is valid art – whatever valid means.
How would you describe your style?
Oh dear. This is a difficult one. It’s all a bit of a mess really. When I started doing this in earnest, only a couple of years ago, I had two distinct styles; a pop-art style and an intricate line style. I found that some people like one style; others the other. Both are fairly common and so my work lacked a certain individuality. So I decided to try and fuse the two in a way that only others will be able to judge. What you get is a chaotic piece that parodies mass culture, hyper-consumption and makes the viewer recoil and smile at the same time. Hopefully. But my work is ultimately saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes and, in the end, I just like drawing pictures.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Walls and bridges.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
There are so many wonderful artists around right now. At a risk of making myself appear uncool (or even more uncool), Banksy has to be in there. Satire, pathos and cutting wit – and all with a stencil and spray can. By extension, Blek le Rat too. I like the whole vibe of outsider art, its inclusiveness and total lack of pomposity. Conor Harrington, Reas, Ian Francis, 3D, Invader. And Dan Hillier for a bit of psychedelic steampunk. You can also see some wondrous stuff at certain galleries run by artists themselves, such as Espacio in Shoreditch, east London. The members work across all contemporary visual arts media and they’re highly talented people. And nice. Oh, Joseph Mallord William Turner too.
What or who inspires your art?
The world and its horrific yet comic ways. And other people’s enthusiasm.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
I’m afraid I don’t have one. I just make some space wherever I can. The recent Miley Cyrus-based work involved collage and adult magazines, and so I had porn all over the floor for weeks. Never again.
Do you have any studio rituals?
I have to put some music on. Appropriate stuff for the type of thing I’m working on. Pretty dark generally. I will then work all day without sustenance.
What are you working on currently?
Stuff about London. I’m obsessed with its humour, its violence, its history and its people. Plus it’s where I come from. Also, I’m preparing to participate in an Artist’s Pool collaborative project on a huge canvas with all proceeds going to CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK.
Where can we buy your art?
You can buy my stuff from