I‘m doing a visual autobiography and finding images of things that have influenced or inspired me on my creative journey. My first great love was comic books! That graphic style has stuck with me too. Next, for a nano-second, came Winston Churchil’sl paintins. They were in the first real exhibition of paintings I ever saw was at the age of 11 at The Royal Ontario Museum of Art in Toronto. The paintings made me so happy and I felt I could do this—I wanted to make art too! Then 4 years of art history at McGill looking at everything. I loved the moodiness of Rembrandt then but forgot to put him in here. At the same time, Krazy Kat and the brilliant graphic story telling of George Herriman, who was admired by Picasso too. And Picasso, of course—his incredible power of expression and inventiveness. Andy Warhol, The Beatles, Claes Oldenburg—all things modern and pop. Matisse—the beauty and sense of positive uplift, the color and looseness. Dr Kaligari’s Cabinet—the old black and white film with its high contrast, sense of hopelessness alongside playful inventiveness. Indian miniatures for the brilliant color and detail, the story-telling and mystery. Duchamps’s urinal—ah, the wit and daring! David Hockney’s very early personal drawings—so revealing.
My list goes on—and on. When we see things visually, it tells us so much so quickly. There is is right in front of our eyes and all so clear. Obviously, I love story and art that is strongly graphic. I love wit and experimentation and the now. Most of the art and artists I’m attracted to are uplifting, even funny, but that doesn’t mean they don’t connect with human suffering. Think of Krazy Kat who suffers unrequited love for a mouse named Ignatz who does not return his affections. But Krazy is forever misinterpreting Ignatz’s rejections as fondness. It makes us laugh at ourselves and know we aren’t alone in some of our foolishness.
I loved doing this and taking it right up to the present moment. Some things changed as I went on. I included things I love that I would never attempt—like Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate. But, even with such entries, the strong strain of graphic simplicity, story, and wit continues to inspire.