Martin Skauen Prefers Dogs To Humans

Vice: Hello, you Norwegian artist you. I command thee to describe your drawings without using the word “amazing.” Ready? Go!

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Nov 2 2008, 12:00am

INTERVIEW BY MILÈNE LARSSON

 

All images courtesy of Laura Bartlett Gallery and Galleri MGM


Vice: Hello, you Norwegian artist you. I command thee to describe your drawings without using the word “amazing.” Ready? Go!

Martin Skauen: 
They’re static, like two-dimensional sculptures. And I like to use patterns to depict how things are forced to rely on each other. How everything is connected and creates wholeness. Sometimes I spend up to six months on a drawing, if it’s a big piece.

That’s a lot! Don’t you start hating them after a while?

Yes. I have to keep telling myself they’ll be extraordinary. Not giving up is satisfying in and of itself.

Your work is pretty brutal. Are people disturbed by it?

Surprisingly not, but the reviews of my shows tend to be about how incredibly dark my worldview must be and that the whole exhibition is a living hell! And of course there are the occasional blows from furious elderly women wondering if it’s really necessary to do this kind of shit.

Does their reaction disgust you?

No, what I am disgusted by right now are people on drugs with “great ideas.” Maybe it’s because I’m currently living in a Berlin art collective.

Berlin is not funny, but we think your drawings are funny.

They are. They’re filled with absurdities but most people don’t seem to get that. Sometimes the fact that they’re almost physically possible makes me laugh, like La Resistance with the three women on top of each other. Looking at it now I think it looks like a bug! Doesn’t it?

Well, that’s not really the first thing that strikes us…

When I look at my work, unknown messages pop up all the time. So I suppose that specific drawing mainly deals with resistance, terrorism, sadomasochism, and birth.

Heavy! How do you come up with the ideas for your drawings? Do you bathe in blood and pray to demon gods, or do you sit somberly in a dark room on a rainy day listening to Mozart’s Requiem Mass?

I get my ideas most of all through paying close attention to the world around me. Nature, people, money, religion, ignorance, and thinking about death. I also spend a lot of time looking through books and googling everything from “strippers” to “war.” Whenever I find an image that affects me I use it, but I’ll twist it around in order to make it more interesting. I can lie in my bed for hours playing around with images and thoughts in my head. My piece called Kiss is a good example of this. It’s based on pictures of chopped-off heads in piles from Cambodia, but I made them kiss in order for the drawing to feel more alive. Maybe I wanted to give them a Hollywood ending.

What would you do if you didn’t draw?

I don’t know. I used to work as a receptionist at a fitness center, but I couldn’t stand it. The music was horrible. I mostly listen to sad country or folk music, especially when I draw. It balances out some of the cruelty and brutality I deal with in my work.

Do you like humans?

Well, they’re my inspiration. But I prefer dogs to people. They’re more basic in their way of being, more honest. They shit and fuck in the open. They have nothing to hide.


 

All images courtesy of Laura Bartlett Gallery and Galleri MGM



 

All images courtesy of Laura Bartlett Gallery and Galleri MGM

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