A note on art….

I’m not sure what to say about these artworks, I’ve always been a big fan of letting art speak for itself. I don’t even like naming the things I make, I don’t like words to intrude between the art and the person that encounters it.

The earliest art I can really remember making was in 5th grade with my friend Baterz. We used to draw cartoons together and invent codes to write each other secret notes. We invented a thing called a “foldy” that was a piece of paper with 3 or 4 random folds in it and dozens of tiny cartoons all over it, that changed when the paper was folded. We probably stole the idea from the “MAD fold-in” at the back of MAD magazines. Ours were infinitely more complex, though, and kept us mesmerised in a giggling act of creation for hours on end.

We also used to draw cartoons of the other kids in our class, and sell them as “voodoo dolls” for 5 cents each. If you hated someone, you could order a voodoo doll of them and screw it up, rip it in half, burn it etc. Which was a good laugh, until I discovered Baterz had branched out on his own and was doing a brisk line in making voodoo dolls of me…I was his biggest seller! Hilarious now, but at the time it hurt enough to spell the end of my career in the black arts. 

Looking back, though, I think a really important connection had been made in my subconscious: art was a way I could communicate with people. As someone with a fairly lonely childhood, full of bullies and tricksters, this was a major revelation. All these years later, that same feeling of making something that might just go out into the world and make its own friends without me having to speak on its behalf is still something that I relish.

The novelist Mario Vargas Llosa once said, “life is a shitstorm, in which art is our only umbrella”, and I’ve found that to be true: perhaps not our only umbrella, but definitely the best one we have.

David M. Lewis