Tuesday, October 4, 2011
5 Minutes With Duggie Fields
Duggie Fields by Thomas Cooksey for Piers Atkinson 2011
Duggie Fields's dayglo post-pop paintings are instantly recognizable. Despite his concern with the identity-dissolving impact of mass media on the contemporary psyche, Fields manages to sustain a coherent signature style that is as flamboyantly dysfunctional as it is cool and simple. Applying overdriven colour and stripped down cartoon-ish drawing to produce mutant variations on classical poses and genres, Fields' work scrambles categories, freaked out and flatline, delirious and deadpan all at once.
Combining elements from disparate cultural and historical vocabularies, Fields' paintings look like stained glass windows for some cathedral of modern Media. The artist's manic imagination throws up deranged icon paintings, casual violence erupting out of ritual and kitsch. Promiscuous and dangerously volatile, Field's multiverse is a place where ballroom dancing and comic book mutilation intersect. Nothing in Western culture is safe from Fields, for as the artist argues in his 'MAXIMALism' manifesto of 1995, digital media has rendered history part of a continuous present.
Duggie Fields has just completed a new book of photographs taken on a mobile phone entitled 'Just Around The Corner'. For further information and to preview the book go here:
The Pocket Arts Guide from Singapore (on-line version) - September issue
DUGGIE FIELDS – page 39+
Q1. What was the first record that you owned, one that really had an impact on you?
DF: MY FIRST RECORDS INCLUDED THE EVERLY BROTHERS - BYE BYE LOVE, PAUL ANKA’S – DIANA, BUDDY HOLLY’S – PEGGY SUE.
LITERALLY ONLY HEARD IT ONCE THEN BUT WAS MOST DESPERATE TO GET A COPY OF ‘COME GO WITH ME’ BY THE DELL VIKINGS – AND COULDN’T, JUST NOT SOMETHING AVAILABLE IN A SMALL ENGLISH COUNTRY TOWN IN 1957 WITH ONLY ONE RECORD SHOP. (MANAGED TO FIND A COPY SOMETIME IN THE EARLY ‘70s) 1958 WAS REALLY THE FIRST YEAR I SERIOUSLY GOT INTO BUYING RECORDS – PROBABLY THE REAL FAVOURITE OF THAT YEAR WAS (AND STILL A FAVOURITE TO THIS DAY) ‘TO KNOW HIM IS TO LOVE HIM’ BY THE TEDDY BEARS AND EQUALLY IT’S FLIPSIDE ‘DON’T YOU WORRY MY LITTLE PET.’ CLOSELY FOLLOWED THAT YEAR BY CONWAY TWITTY’S ‘IT’S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE’ , THE PLATTERS’ ‘SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES’, LLOYD PRICES’ ‘STAGGER LEE’, AND CONNIE FRANCIS’ ‘WHO’S SORRY NOW’
Q2. How did you develop your unique style? I mean both the style of your artwork and your own personal style of dress, hair (the curl), make-up etc...and where do you get your clothes?
DF: IT’S AN INTUITIVE EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS ON ALL LEVELS...THE WORK STARTED IN ADOLESCENCE AS EXPERIMENTAL, AT ART SCHOOL AS CONCEPTUAL AND CONSTRUCTIVIST BEFORE ENDING UP AS POST-POP AND HARD-EDGE. MY APPEARANCE STARTED OFF AT SCHOOL WITH HATED HAND-ME-DOWNS, SHIFTING TO WHAT I THOUGHT WAS BOHEMIAN IN SOME WAY, FORMING A LOOK AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME AS THE WORK BECAME IDENTIFIABLY MINE, EVENTUALLY SPIRALLING AROUND ITSELF AFTER. HAD THE ODD OUTFIT MADE FOR ME IN THE ‘60S SOMEHOW WITH LITTLE MONEY, AND STARTED BEING GIVEN CLOTHES TO WEAR. IN THE EARLY ‘70S STARTED BUYING SECOND-HAND NO LONGER HATED FROM JUMBLE SALES AND STREET MARKETS. STILL DO ALWAYS WITH THE IDEA THAT MONEY IS BETTER SPENT ON PLANE-TICKETS THAN OUTFITS, MORE EXPANSIVE.
Q3. You describe your work as Maximalist and it certainly pre-figured what came to be defined as 'Post-modernism'. You've had a great influence on so called 'style culture'. Was this part of a plan? Today contemporary artists seem to view creativity as a step by step career move.
DF: NO PLAN. NEVER HAD A PLAN. DIDN’T SEE BEING AN ARTIST AS A CAREER, STILL DON’T. IF ANYTHING THINK IT’S MORE A CALLING. SOMETHING INEVITABLE, UNAVOIDABLE, IRRESISTIBLE, NECESSARY EVEN. LOOKS LIKE A PATH THAT WAS LOGICAL LOOKING BACK, BUT NOT EVEN A DREAM FIRST. JUST MAKING PICTURES SOMETHING THAT BECAME PART OF MY LIFE AS MY LIFE BECAME MINE, AND STAYED WITH ME FORTUNATELY AFTERWARDS, BOTH WITH UNCERTAINTY AS TO THE FUTURE ALWAYS, AND A QUESTIONING OF ITS VALUE IN THE PRESENT, PRIVILEGE AT A PRICE IT SEEMS.
The Pocket Arts Guide from Singapore (on-line version) - September issue.
Q4. In 1968 you were sharing a flat with Syd Barrett and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. Did Syd or Roger have any direct influence on you creatively and did the underground scene in London affect your artwork in any way...or vice versa?
DF: THE UNDERGROUND SCENE IN LONDON AT THAT TIME WAS VERY MUCH MY HOME, MORE SO IN FACT OUT OF ART SCHOOL THAN IN IT. HAVING STARTED OUT IN A SMALL VILLAGE IN THE COUNTRY, I HAD MOVED FIRST TO A TOWN NEARBY, AND THEN TO THE OUTER-SUBURBS OF LONDON IN MY LATE TEENS. IN EACH PLACE ALWAYS SOME KIND OF OUTSIDER, BEFORE LEAVING HOME AT 18 WHEN I STARTED ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL AT THE REGENT STREET POLYTECHNIC. WHILST STILL AT SCHOOL OUT IN BOREHAMWOOD I HAD BOTH STARTED WORKING IN A RECORD SHOP IN HAMPSTEAD, AND HAD BEGUN VENTURING INTO SMALL CLUBS IN THE CENTRE OF LONDON, DISCOVERING IN THE ONE I MOST FELT AT HOME IN THE THEN UNKNOWN AND YET TO BE RECORDED ROLLING STONES. A SHORT FEW YEARS ON SOME OF MY FLATMATES OF THE TIME FORMED THEIR OWN BAND, THE PINK FLOYD. AT CHELSEA ART SCHOOL I WAS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE KING’S ROAD, FINDING IT MUCH MORE COLOURFUL AND CREATIVE ON THE STREET OUTSIDE THAN IN THE COLLEGE ITSELF. AT HOME WHEN THE BAND WERE REHEARING AT TIMES I WOULD PUT ON SOUL MUSIC AS LOUD AS I COULD HOPING TO INFLUENCE THEIR SENSE OF RHYTHM. FRIENDS MAKING MUSIC AND CLOTHES AS WELL AS ART JUST SEEMED A NORMAL PART OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN A WORLD WHERE I STARTED TO FEEL I BELONGED AND HAD FOUND KINDRED SPIRITS.
Duggie Fields With Luciana Martinez.
Q5. The Shiseido Corporation invited you to Tokyo in 1983, where your work was featured in a gallery, television, magazine, billboard and subway advertising campaign throughout all Japan-at a time when Japan really was 'the place to be'. Now you present really great photos fairly regularly on Facebook, which is currently 'the place to be'. What do you make of the whole social media explosion? Does it help you to present your work to the world? Would you consider doing reality TV the way Jeffrey Deitch did ART STAR?
DF: THE SHISEIDO INVITATION CAME OUT OF THE BLUE ONE DAY WHILE I WAS SITTING ON MY OWN WATCHING A SOAP OPERA AND FRETTING ABOUT HOW I WOULD PAY THE RENT (AGAIN). THE COMPANY HADN’T STARTED SELLING IN THE UK THEN SO I HAD NO REAL IDEA WHO THEY WERE AND THE SCALE OF WHAT I WOULD BE GETTING INTO. IT TURNED OUT VERY MUCH ‘LOST IN TRANSLATION’ ONLY WITHOUT THE SCARLET JOHANNSON STORYLINE, WITH MY ENDING IN A COSMETICS CAMPAIGN FOR A SEASON, AND AFTERWARDS DISCARDED, AN IRONY NOT LOST ON ME. IN CHILDHOOD I HAD PLAYED IN THE STORE-ROOM OF MY PARENTS’ CHEMIST SHOP AMONGST THE DISCARDED DISPLAY CARDS, THE MOST GLAMOROUS AND THE MOST ABUNDANT BEING THE COSMETIC PLACARDS, REPLACED EACH SEASON AS I WAS UNEXPECTEDLY TO BE HALF A LIFETIME LATER THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD.
PHOTOGRAPHY ONLY RECENTLY BECAME SOMETHING THAT I DO FREQUENTLY. IN THE PAST I NEVER REALLY WAS COMFORTABLE WITH ANY CAMERA I OWNED. IT WASN’T UNTIL MY MOBILE PHONE HAD A GOOD ENOUGH CAMERA THAT I BEGAN TAKING PICTURES ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS, HAVING FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THE PHONE FIRST, A THING OF SCIENCE FICTION FROM MY CHILDHOOD, HAVING IT WITH ME CONSTANTLY IN A WAY I’D NEVER TAKEN A CAMERA OUT. SOMETHING I WAS LESS SELF-CONSCIOUS ABOUT, ESPECIALLY NOT NEEDING TO USE A VIEW-FINDER, PROCESSING THE IMAGES ON COMPUTER BECAME A MATTER OF COURSE QUITE QUICKLY, IN THE WAY THAT WHEN I HAD FIRST STARTED ARCHIVING MY PAINTINGS DIGITALLY I FOUND MYSELF ‘IMPROVING’ THE WAY THEY LOOKED ON-SCREEN AS SOON AS I FOUND THE KNOWLEDGE HOW TO.
HAVING MOVED FROM MYSPACE TO FACEBOOK SOME TIME AGO AS A PLACE TO COMMUNICATE, I STARTED PUTTING THEM THERE ON AN ALMOST DAILY BASIS AS A KIND OF VISUAL DIARY. USING FACEBOOK MOSTLY FROM THE EASE OF UPLOADING AS OPPOSED TO ADDING THEM TO MY WWW.DUGGIEFIELDS.COM WEBSITE, WHERE THEY STILL HAVE NO PRESENCE DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE TIME AND COMPLICATIONS IT TAKES TO ADD STUFF THERE ( CURRENTLY OVER NEGLECTED). THE TITLE ‘JUST AROUND THE CORNER’ IS A LITERAL DESCRIPTION OF WHERE MOST OF THE IMAGES WERE TAKEN – THOUGH THE ‘CORNER’ HAS NOW SPREAD ALL OVER LONDON PRETTY MUCH. THEN I FOUND I WAS GETTING FEEDBACK WITH FOLLOWERS ‘LIKING’ THE PICTURES FROM EVERYWHERE WHICH IN TURN ENCOURAGED ME TO CONTINUE AND DO MORE. WHEN I GO OUT NOW I GET BOTH PEOPLE I KNOW AND STRANGERS COMING UP TO ME AND COMMENTING ON THEM. SO YES, IT DOES HELP TO PRESENT WORK TO THE WORLD AND IN UNPLANNED WAYS, THEY’VE BEEN SEEN FROM SINGAPORE TO SOUTH AMERICA AND COUNTLESS PLACES IN BETWEEN, AND NOW I FIND MYSELF ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO VENTURE ONLINE AS A RESULT.
AS FAR AS REALITY TV GOES, I DOUBT I WOULD EVER DO ONE, BUT ONE CAN NEVER SAY NEVER. AS A GENRE, I DO ENJOY WATCHING ALL SORTS. THE MOST RECENT I FOUND MYSELF BEING ABSORBED IN WAS ‘CELEBRITY DRUG REHAB’ WHICH HAD SOME MOVING MOMENTS. CURRENTLY ‘THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK’ WHICH IS QUITE APPALLING. CAN’T IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO GET ME INTO ONE, WHEN WHAT I WANT MOST IS TO BE INSIDE MY STUDIO WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD SHUT OUT.
Duggie Fields, Zandra Rhodes, Andrew Logan and Luciana Martinez.