Phlegm and the big monsters
« I don’t really have a bio. I don’t like talking about my work. » He doesn’t like interviews. He is what we call a free spirit, without a label. His position and stance is legitimate and deserves to understood. He wants us as the viewer to play a role as an actor in his work, free to think increasing our intelligence. Kind of like a puppet on a string, but not to move our limbs but our complex minds. He does not want to subject us to the obvious facts but to instead shape our thinking. The more experienced say that all these things dictate a back-and-forth intellectual false modesty, an integrity that comes alive in a pretentious and mysterious movement. He is not the only one, nor even the last. He is talented and he knows it. His art captivates, he is called Phlegm and his name is unpronounceable.
Shoreditch High Street, 6:17 p.m. My sneezes are like the environment, humid and sticky. My hand doesn’t even emits a reflex to avoid the ejection of millions of drooling germs. Pretending to look deconctrated is quite hard. I fake a look of being comfortable and detached from any meteorological importance. The rain is gaining intensity. The heaviness of my coat becomes substantial and my hat longs for the cold and dry like never before. I head to the Howard-Griffin Gallery.
Whilst entering I am watched carefully by a pitbull. Nothing human is within reach. I move a little closer to him to try and get his attention. He still does not move, peaceful and dignified in his posture, like a sphinx of modern times. Then I think maybe he could catch me by surprise with 500kg of pressure. So I make a run for it giving him a smile to thank him for his welcoming entrance and head down the corridor of the exhibition leaving behind me a trail of water.
A maze of these different places gradually appear in front of me. Collections of supernatural skeletons and chemical jars adorn the facades of compressed wood. It’s playful and disturbing. The spiraling corridor triggers a preliminary shock of fear, incomplete and entertaining, like that which accompanies the music of a fantasy film. A few feet further this scary delirium presents itself as a huge freak. Creatures with disproportionate members engage in a series of wacky situations where the phantasmagoria of Burton and Sendak spans complex metaphors. «This is the mystery of the world that I paint. His unspoken story. » OK, enough philosophy ! My lucidity wants to take its course to the extent that the sunlight helps me see more clearly, or there abouts. I tell myself « what an extremist time! » when my shoes scrape the threshold of the door. The animal is still set onto its dirty pink cloth and proud to be the final custodian of the bestiary.
Text & pictures by © Julien Catala