I guess I was lucky. I only experienced bullying once at school and dealt with it in the only way I knew how. They only tried it the once. I think my hurt turned to rage and once unleashed, without dressing up what is in fact an ugly side of my character, I became as unpleasant as the bullies who foolishly picked on me.
Steven was less fortunate. He suffered in ways I cannot imagine. At one stage things got so bad, following an incident when he was pushed off his school chair, that he had to be treated for a broken wrist. Odd how such cruelty can reshape its self into such creativity
There is a child like quality about his work that reveals more about him than it does the harsh truth of children -.some of them are less innocent than we are lead to believe. Of course it is the parents who are at fault. Kids do not enter this world as bullies. Someone has nurtured that attribute, demonstrated violence as a way of control, of power not persuasion.
Steven, or Siffado Dante as he is now known, produces art that is childlike, plaintive and searching. showing how innocence falls hard against brutal truths. The images look like the sketches sometimes found on exercise books. Pictures and comments landed on paper. They also remind me of those late sixties underground albums. Zappa springs to mind and some punks. I like these works. Pastel shades make gentle suggestions hiding opposing concepts of delight and joy meeting confrontation.
It should be angry art but it isn't, at least i don't see such an emotion here. Nor is it defeated by events but celebrates diversity as much as does decry the pack instinct which leads to insecurity. There is hurt, of being mentally bruised and also confusion but not a sign of retaliation. There is also another layer that unfolds as you look. A search, if not for spirituality, then perhaps for connection to something other than that what is instantly perceivable. It has a raw emotional quality that reflects things felt as well as observed.
Steve (if I may be so bold) is 26. Born in Somerset, where they patently produce more than just cider, in the mid-eighties. He now lives in Crawley, Sussex. He has managed to beat the bullies and the systemic lack of not recognising his talent and is now being shown in galleries alongside the likes of Warhol and that urban rascal Banksy.
Perhaps my take on his work is inaccurate. Maybe I am over egging it or missing the point.. I hope not. I see what I see and what I see I very much like.
Emo art? hmmmm. Rather a dull confinement for such exhilarating art.
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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers and sipits out the chaff