Nicola Frimpong, AKA Freeakpong, is a British artist who – among other mediums – paints watercolours of severed penises, bloodbath orgies, decapitated heads and sadomasochistic school classrooms. Her work looks a bit like Quentin Blake's illustrations, had he been a part of some radical, deviant, underground sex scene in 1970s Berlin rather than art man for one of the world's most beloved children's authors. Or the manic scribblings of a ten-year-old who's been massively overexposed to the internet. Both of those basically translate to: there are a lot of dicks, vaginas and blood in her paintings.
I wanted to know what type of human it takes to be able to put a brush to paper and make that kind of stuff flood out, so I gave Nicola a call. She liked the sound of my voice straight off the bat and invited me to a gang bang party a couple of nights later, but I politely declined and carried on with the conversation you can read below.
VICE: Hi Nicola. Your watercolours are a bit weird, aren't they? What are they all about?
Nicola Frimpong: My art is all about me. I’m simply evoking my love, pain, sexuality and violent side. It’s all of my thoughts moulded into an out of control, honest painting. I have all of this stuff going on inside my head – love, hate, frustration – and the only way I can get it out is through the canvas.
That sounds pretty deep.
Well, growing up I was very repressed. I was very obedient and always did what my mum told me, but I'm actually a very tortured and angry person – I just didn’t talk about it. It’s been absorbed for a very long time. Paintings are very therapeutic and I found that I could communicate through art in ways that I can’t with people. It’s a cry. It’s like another part of me that I’m trying to reveal.
Why does it all look so angry and manic?
It’s a personal vendetta – me against the world. I’m giving back what those who hurt me gave. It’s only fair and I’m not going to feel bad about it. I’m paying them back for everything they did to me. How about my raped soul? Frimpong is lost in the world. Will I ever see her again? We live in a violent world. My way of loving someone is a punch in the face. It’s unconventional, but logical.
You should try cuddling. What else makes you paint such violent pictures?
Horror films and porn also contribute to my work. I was watching a lot of graphic material and horror films from a very young age. I fell in love with films like Requiem for a Dream, The 120 Days of Sodom and American Psycho – “You’re a fucking ugly bitch. I want to cut you up and play with your blood” – that kind of thing. It’s been in my head from an early age and it’s grown and grown. Artists such as Dali, Kristian Hornsleth and shock artists like Jake and Dinos Chapman also inspire me.
Okay. Explain all the bloody sex.
Sex is beautiful – it’s a way of connecting with a loved one in a spiritual and romantic way. The sex featured in my work is more animalistic, dirty and porno, really. Maybe subconsciously I’m yearning for it to be romantic, but really it’s fucked up. There’s a lot of confusion in my work, as there is in porn films and my life.
Why do you choose to work in watercolours?
Just because I've always been successful working with watercolours. I’ve used oils before but I don’t have the patience. I use watercolours because they’re practical – there isn’t really a deep meaning behind the chosen medium.
Fair enough. What kind of reactions do you normally get from people looking at your work?
My work has made a lot of people feel confused and angry. Last year I did an African show that promoted British black artists and there was one woman who told me that my work wasn’t African, it was European and that it wasn’t new or shocking. I like to evoke something from people, so that pissed me off, but I just think 'fuck it'. I can’t change their opinion, so I just take it with a pinch of salt.
Some people have said it’s not shocking or scary and that they’ve seen worse. I mean, what I do isn’t illegal. It does get to me when people don‘t find my work shocking, but I just block it out of my system.
Don't worry, Nicola - you're very shocking.
Follow Chloe on Twitter: @chloecrossx
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