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Music by VICE

The Charcoal Grills of Fang Island’s Jason Bartell

Gold and charcoal, together at last.

by Dan Ozzi
Mar 12 2014, 5:24pm

In addition to grossing people the fuck out, custom grills are the perfect way to let people know: I have no idea what to do with my money and I also like my smile to look like I brush my teeth which rich people toothpaste. But Jason Bartell of the band Fang Island also sees some artistic value in them.

A part time artist, Jason recently started working with charcoal to capture the distinct contrast between soft skin and hard, polished metal. “I liked the idea of thoughtfully rendering precious and coveted objects using what is, essentially, a worthless material,” he says of his Grievers series. “In person, I find the result kind of disgusting.” Agreed, totally gross. Toronto band PUP found them so gross that they used one of the works as the cover for their stellar forthcoming album.

Here a few of Jason’s awesomest/grossest charcoal grills…

Title: "Untitled (Griever #1)", charcoal on paper, 6'' x 4'', 2010
"This was the first of a series of drawings of grills I made in 2010, I drew them all in my dingy, windowless basement studio over the course of several months. This year, grungy Canadian rockers PUP asked if they could use #1 as their debut album cover, so that was pretty cool."

Title: "Untitled (Griever #2)", charcoal on paper, 6'' x 4'', 2010
"People likely don't know that I work as an artist assistant for a couple of established artists in Manhattan whenever Fang Island isn't touring. It can be hard to feel motivated to draw more at home after a long work day, but it keeps me sharp and I have a good relationship with my bosses."

Title: "Untitled (Griever #3)", charcoal on paper, 6'' x 4'', 2010
"The entire Grievers collection was done with charcoal. I like drawing with charcoal because it just feels so base. It's pretty much the equivalent of drawing with dirt."

Title: "Untitled (Griever #4)", charcoal on paper, 6'' x 4'', 2010
"I think part of why I like drawing is that anyone can do it. Using a tool with your hands to make a mark, or in this case, a grill. It pre-dates just about everything humans have ever done. It's similar to music in that way, there's something about it that's just baked-in. To me, that makes it feel essential."

Title: "Untitled (Griever #5)", charcoal on paper, 6'' x 4'', 2010
"All of the Grievers pieces are photo realistic. Photo realistic art is in a funny place now that the digital age is in full effect. Taking photos has never been easier or more part of so many peoples daily lives, it makes spending hours on rendering a photo-esque image by hand seem all the more irrational. I wouldn't say that my work is necessarily made in response to that idea, but it's kind of an interesting byproduct.