On December 5th, Thomas Kvam opens his exhibition Natural Born Pollock at QBG in Oslo. KUNSTforum asked him some questions about his art and what inspires him.
Can tell us about your current exhibition?
– From The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) to Hannibal Lecter, it’s always the same. You know the scene; in the attic or in the basement, a detective hunts in the dark, and there – behind a curtain, in the glimpse of a policeman’s flashlight, you see it – the horror. There is only one constant in Hollywood. Serial killers decorate their homes with collages – when the psychopaths peaks in pure madness, they become artist. Not unlike a collage artist with an Arte Povera sensibility.
This movie history trivia has always puzzled me. Why do we find this dubious connection between art and serial killers in pop culture? I began the demanding task of collecting still frames from movies for what I thought could be an interior magazine for serial killers – or more ambitiously, the definitive bible of serial killer aesthetics. But this was just scratching the surface. Soon I was reading Thomas De Quincies, On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts, from 1827 and painting Freud portraits with a strap on. I was gradually becoming Natural Born Pollock. At the end it was the murderbillia scene witch tipped me over the edge. Finally I was sitting in my studio with the real life serial killer John E Robertson authentic suicide letters to his family making my own collages.
The topics of your exhibition are rather dark. Why this interest in serial killers and death?
– Unlike art, death is accessible to everyone. Serial killing and art is for the few – It’s best that way.
How would you describe your work process from idea to work?
– We should have lived in the 60s and the answer would have been easy. The madness began with LSD. We could then calmly kick back and relax with a logical explanation, a simple matter of biochemistry, of cause and affect. Our situation is truly troubeling. How should we explain what’s happening today? Everything looks like it’s been made on acid – but everyone is sober.
What are your main influences when creating a work of art?
– I am a passive-aggressive junk culture connoisseur, all at the same time. I have my guilty pleasures – chasing high brow obscurity in the dark, and dusty corners on my Kindle library.
Can you name an artist, artwork or exhibition that has inspired you?
– Living in Munich, with Vienna and Zurich in driving distance, there’s a lot to choose from. So this will be random. An almost shy and marginal Jean-Michel Basquiat painting trapped in a boot at Art Basel, and the display of George Baselizt at Haus der Kunst in Munich, comes to mind. Old stuff. Nevertheless. Rem Koolhaas survey at the architecture biennale this year was brilliant. I finally took the time to watch all seasons of House MD, the TV-series, this year. In a cultural industry saturated by murder, watching hospitals soap operas is pure transcendental mediation.
All in all, there’s so many sources for inspiration, riding my cargo bike through the city back and forth from the studio, listening to Steven Wrigth on the head set, is one of them. He is a comedian, experimental filmmaker, writer and actor and Steven Wrigth’s stand up is slow talk with twisted logics, its riddles, anti humour, stunning observations and poetry. He opens the cognitive gaps of everyday life – the moments when both life and language collapses, when everything slips on its own banana peal, and the world crashes in psychoanalytical mind games and hyper active Behaviourism.
What is your next project?
– I participating with a new work in Kari Brandtzægs survey of Norwegian political art, opening January 2015.
Why is art important?
– There are as many answers to that as there are art works.
Remember, we are all Natural Born Pollocks.
Utstillingen Natural Born Pollock står til 11. januar 2015 på QBG.