Who is Mr Controversial?
Mr Controversial is a 30-something London-based Artist who; transforms vintage imagery relegated to the past and brings it back to life with oil paint, silkscreen printing and relatable captions that tell comical, satirical and sometimes dark stories.
He plays with the concept of ‘The Familiar Surprise’. You’ve not seen this image before presented in this way but it reminds you of something familiar. He creates Imagery that elicits an emotional response and triggers a nostalgic or cultural memory packaged in satirical, relatable captions and quotes.
Drawing from his professional experience in the advertising industry working on campaigns for a variety of brands, his work is born out of a passion for crafting engaging visuals, and communication through design and marketing psychology; understanding the science behind the things we buy, buy into and /or share.
On a lighter note, he pokes fun at problems that arise from the digital age and personal frustrations of the social media-obsessed world we live in. Relatability, shareability and storytelling are the foundations of his own artwork and no longer Ad campaigns for brands.
Mr Controversial says; “Each piece should be instantly relatable to the viewer, as if you have stumbled upon something that hits the nail on the head of your own everyday life, making the ordinary extraordinary & hilariously absurd.
I want to create art that speaks to people on a personal level, (the inner you) as if I know something about them that nobody else does. If you don’t look at my art and think ‘OMG that’s so true’ or ‘That’s SO me, I can relate and if you aren’t blown away by the aesthetic in the imagery, oil paint. Diamond dust… then I haven’t bloody done my job!
When I’m not creating in the studio, I spend many hours in my favourite West London coffee shop sketching out ideas and playing with concepts. Many people come in and out throughout the day and I like to earwig in on conversations, deconstruct them, and almost psychoanalyse them. I then put them back together with a funny twist and use that as a basis for a piece of art, I create the imagery around the caption.
A lot of my work is based on conversations I’ve personally listened in on or things I’ve seen on social media posts or comments. I always try to find the funny angle, especially with stuff that’s often quite dark. I have a fearless approach to my work, whether that’s taking the piss out of gluten intolerance, social media influencers, online dating or our own insecurities that rattle around in our minds fuelled by advertising, consumerism and capitalism.
In a world where nothing is truly original, I can only create art that is authentic to me. I guess that’s what makes your art truly valuable. My work; My ideas, my worldview, my commentary on the world we live in. I believe great artists are commentators and a voice of the times in which they create, their work serves as a snapshot, a window into that specific time in history for future generations to make sense of when they look back."
What’s with the name?
Mr Controversial isn’t controversial in the way you’d expect. He explains; “Aside from the casual profanity in my work, the satire, dark storytelling that at first you laugh at but once the laugh is over you realise it’s quite tragic. I’m controversial in the way I am taking the fine art world by storm, even though I have just recently come onto the art scene (with no formal art education, no financial backing, no connections) I’ve already made an impact and captured the eyes of established collectors, independent galleries and an engaged audience.”
He argues his ‘lack of’ traditional art training allows him to create outside of traditional form and convention; “I envision the piece I want to create based on the caption and pull together the various elements in order to create it, I don’t allow my limitations to prevent me from creating. If I have to learn oil painting, silkscreen printing, and building a large sculpture… I’ll figure it out. I believe true creativity is working outside your limits but being bold enough to bring your idea into the physical world.” A true mixed media artist willing to use any medium to achieve his creative vision.
“I represent a new generation of fine art; social media savvy, not tied to the old conventions and willing to bulldoze through gatekeepers. I take the same mental resilience, discipline and controlled aggression I’ve learnt boxing over the years and channelled that into a (what I feel is) a stale art world in need of disruption. Your favourite artists and brands we’re once disruptors and David’s in a world of Goliaths.”
A fresh approach to fine art. He experiments with Oil painting, digital art and hands-on silk screen printing.
He is also controversial in his fearless approach to art, not worrying about who he offends or pokes fun at. “Some of the captions are bound to offend, unsettle and provoke thinking… but isn’t that what art is about?”
He is also controversial in the way he re-appropriates vintage imagery, whether that’s 1950’s pulp fiction paperbacks, paraphernalia he’s come across from rummaging at car boot sales or vintage Hollywood imagery.
He sets out to create something new, with new context, meaning and a new story based on conversations he listens in on as well as his own life experience. Viral social media posts are a favourite of his as he feels it is a snapshot into the times we live in and the things people hold dear; whether that’s rising oil prices or an awful Tinder date.
Similar to a collage artist, using vintage photography or books as source material but also a traditional artist who uses oil paint, Acrylics, crayon, diamond dust and more. He then creates captions, testing and tweaking to see which combination of character and caption gains the most traction amongst his followers.
A scientific, audience-focused approach to finding the right sequence of words and relatable captions that connect with the viewer, perfectly matched with the vintage image, oil paint and silkscreen.
“My aim is to create work that resonates. Make the viewer chuckle at the controversial nature of my work calling *B*U*L*L*S*H*I*T* on, and poking fun at Millennials and their ‘first world problems’ our digitised generation obsess over; from lifestyle choices, dating, and fear of gluten to social media fame. As someone who remembers the world pre-internet, it’s safe to say the world is becoming a bit of a strange place.
I fuse vintage imagery with traditional fine art and social media content to create art that explores how we currently live our lives in this new digital world and just take the piss a bit. My approach and the way I communicate is dark, satirical, fearless, and controversial. I like to explore this notion of Individualism; in such a politically correct world where people strive to be the cleanest version of themselves, we’re all just humans with our own fears, desires and self-serving habits. I like to unearth these and repackage them into something relatable and funny.
Behind the beautiful imagery is a dark story about yourself, just waiting to be discovered”