Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Viktor Vauthier, Ian Cox
28 Monday 28th November 2011

So Sickboy, how long had you been working on the Heaven & Earth show before opening it to the public?

In total about two years.

Sickboy at work

What were your three biggest influences going into the exhibition?

I have been influenced by everyone from Picasso to Hieronymous Bosch; from Renaissance portraits to psychedelic landscape dioramas by forward-thinking architecture freaks from the ‘60s Archigram.

Where does the spiritualism in Heaven & Earth stem from for you, personally?

I feel there are gods inside all of us; we decide who they are - and what they represent spiritually is closely linked to painting. My personal experience of painting this show was always affected by the atmosphere of the studio. I had a constant haze of smoke across the room and could feel the vibe of a piece building as I connected and disconnected from it. I think you can see areas in some of the pieces where I have been overexcited and some where I have been sad. I like to leave as much human evidence in the work as possible. And allow the viewer to dearth out the emotion hidden amongst the lines.

Critically Zen

What do you feel you confess to your viewers in this show's pieces?

I think I have deep personal narrative in all my paintings, from the choice of colour to the initial loose mark-making. This is later refined into a story where symbols and messages form an insight into parts of me that I couldn’t verbalise even if you loosened my larynx with liquor and laughter.

We're already fans of Word to Mother, Eine, Eelus and other artists you used for the confessional bricks. How did you go about choosing who you wanted to feature? And have you got any favourites?

All the artists involved are linked by the fact that they use walls as a primary medium to express themselves. I see the brick as a symbol of the wall and it also represents many other things such as building positively for housing or negatively for separation (as with the Berlin Wall). When I first held a brick in my hand, I also thought how it is a weapon in the sense you instantly feel you want to throw it through a window - but that’s probably down to some destructive streak in me.

I had my own personal views on what it represented but chose not to let that hinder anyone’s personal perspective. I chose 12 of my favourite people whose work is related to what I do. I found it a fun experience - and also a long one; trying to pin some of them down made me popular with my mobile phone provider, and was a taste of my own medicine.

How do you think the UK and London graffiti scenes have evolved recently?

I have been asked this a few times recently. I always saw London as being a more ferocious city and I think it’s reflected in its graffiti output. The turnover of walls is faster, the buff is stronger, and people take more risks to get up. I don’t think London is the be all and end all of graffiti in the UK - there are great writers and scenes in most major cities. I especially like the metro scene in Newcastle. Manchester has some wicked writers, and so does Bristol. Over the years I’ve sofa-surfed a lot of these places, had some great times, met interesting people and hit some fun spots.

Tertiary Visions close-up

So what's next on your agenda? We've heard you've got a show coming up in San Fran next year, so how are you planning on prepping for it/your other projects?

I’m currently typing this interview while sitting next to a sketchbook of fresh ideas. I have a lot on the horizon and the diary is pretty full already. Keep an eye at for fun times in the not too distant future. 


And he took the words right out of my mouth: head over to Sickboy's site to see what he's got coming up next.

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