Daniel Ginns' Art Makes Me Really Uncomfortable
Daniel Ginns is an artist from London who paints, draws and sculpts anorexic girls, raw meat and obliterated animal carcasses. His art falls into that category of being kind of half beautiful, but also making you feel really distressed and uncomfortable. Like looking at a perfectly poached egg then biting into the yolk and realising it's essentially an aborted foetus that's been heated in water and vinegar for five minutes.
I wanted to know what kind of mind is behind the hands and brushstrokes that can make me feel like that, so I called Daniel up for a chat.
VICE: Hey Dan. So your art is beautiful, but also really gross – why is that?
Daniel Ginns: It’s based around the idea of trying to make morbid stuff look pretty. I’ve always been fascinated with road kill and shit ever since I was little. It’s a weird thing ‘cause the texture of the inside of an animal is like nothing else. I started drawing lots of meat out of habit and now it’s kind of my thing.
What other stuff has made you draw?
I thought I had HIV for a while and I started drawing this one character loads – one with two mouths. It had a mouth where a mouth is supposed to be, then one where his cock would normally be. I was drawing that for ages.
But you didn't get HIV?
No. Basically, I moved to Australia to go meet my biological father for the first time, stopped off in Bali and shagged some sketchy chicks. I started puking and shit, then a few weeks later I had ball ache the whole time and a load of other stuff. I looked on the internet, which is obviously the biggest fucking error you can ever make, and had a load of the symptoms for HIV.
I didn’t want to tell my mum and worry her, so I told my dad, who I'd just met for the first time.I had to wait a few more weeks to get tested and I just lost my shit and had to have counselling. I got the results back and I didn’t have anything – it was all in my head. When I thought I had it, though, I didn’t wanna leave the house and I did nothing but draw and cry my eyes out for three weeks.
Dark. Isn’t that the kind of shit that's supposed to make you a good artist?
Traumatic events left to fester in your head definitely result in some interesting artwork. I think one of the most crippling things for an artist is if nothing bad has happened – if you’ve just had a cushty upbringing. A lot of my drawings and paintings come from photographs that I’ve taken, too. I try and stick to that, but it’s always easy to be pulled into internet imagery because I can’t take photos of the insides of people. Well, I guess I probably could, but it’s easier that way.
You seem to use the same anorexic girl in your work a lot.
Yeah. She’s not my muse, or anything, she’s just someone I know. Again, her being anorexic is quite a dark subject matter and I wanted to turn it into something prettyish. I prefer more awkward people. I’m not too stoked on taking photos of girls, really. I used to do it because I got to see hot girls naked, but I haven’t done it for a while now.
What other dark, uncomfortable things get you going?
A few things have been based on ketamine trips. It fucks up your perception. I always find it weird when you see paintings that people have done on acid and they use really weird colours, because it’s never like that. I think it’s really hard to portray being fucked on drugs in imagery. I don’t know if it’s even possible. I’ve done drawings of landscapes – kind of surrealist stuff that vaguely touches upon it – but not loads. I’ve tried to ease up on all of that drug shit anyway because I’ve got so much work to do.
What are you working on?
Hundreds of things. I’m doing a lot to do with chance in art and systematically setting up systems for drawing. For example, I filled an A4 piece of paper up with lines in a 0.1 pen. I started following the straight edge of the paper as close as I could to being a straight line, but if I made a mistake, like a little jolt, the next line would have to go around the jolt. It took me three hours, 50 minutes and 46 seconds to do. I put a Kate Bush album on but it ran out after like 40 minutes. So that’s the kind of stuff that I’m working on at the moment. It’s kind of brain numbing, but it feels like meditating to me.
Look at more of Daniel's work at danielginns.com.
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