There are few artists that push the boundaries of fine art, pop culture, and a comic book style than Neal Fox.
The British-based artist has been a favorite of mine ever since I was lucky enough to see one of his pieces at a small gallery show several years ago. He may be somewhat unknown in the United States, with most of his gallery shows taking place in Europe and Tokyo. His macabre style blends fine art and pop culture imagery with the 1970's independent comic style that is reminiscent of Robert Crumb and other great artists from that era. Check out his official bio and art below. You can purchase prints and possibly an original on his website.
"Neal Fox is a London based artist. Born in 1981, he studied at Camberwell Art College and the Royal College of Art. While at the RCA he co-founded Le Gun, the art collective and publication of the same name. Since graduating in 2005 Fox’s work depicting a phantasmagoric journey through the detritus and mythology of pop culture has led to solo exhibitions in London, Munich, Berlin and Paris, and group shows from Brussels to Beijing alongside Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys. In 2013 he and Le Gun featured prominently in the exhibition Memory Palace at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Fox has exhibited at the art fairs Art Brussels, Artissima, Drawing Now, FIAC and Art Basel. From a life long fascination with the tales of his dead grandfather, a World War 2 bomber pilot, writer, and hell raiser, Fox’s large scale ink drawings have developed into increasingly layered celebrations of the debauched and iconoclastic characters whose ideas have helped shape our collective consciousness. Remixing and collaging events and connecting trails of thought, he imagines Francis Bacon and William Burroughs taking tea in the ancient Egyptian after life, or Captain Beefheart selling a vacuum cleaner to Aldous Huxley at the Doors of Perception.T he British filmmaker Peter Bach is currently working on a TV documentary about Neal Fox. Neal Fox’s ink drawings are chimerical dramas of graphic debauchery, cut with anti-establishment, offbeat and iconic cultural figures. By penning the quixotic worlds of pop-icons, drawn together into fantastical situations, Fox pulls these characters into our physical present while feeding our addiction to escapism and fantasy. His ink unfolds schizophrenic histories of Led Zeppelin and Aleister Crowley; a frenzied Ronald McDonald crucifying Michael Jackson; and an over-crowded boat journey through different dimensions, surfacing on the erroneous conglomerations of a thick and complex unreality.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, London and co-creator of the established Art annual Le Gun, the accomplished draughtsman has exhibited in London, Paris and Germany. Fox’s artistic influences include Robert Crumb, Raymond Pettibon, and Otto Dix; however it is John Watson, Fox’s grandfather, who is the definitive guiding source in the artist’s creative output. Watson was a World War II bomber pilot, chat show host, writer and publisher, who in his post war years sought solace in Soho’s bohemian watering holes. Left with and inspired by embroidered memories of his grandfather’s alternative activities, Fox nominates Watson, always inked in his black hat and overcoat, to act as our tour guide through the artist’s visual narratives.
One such narrative is Fox’s distinguished ten-metre piece 2000 Light Years from Home(2009). The work emerges from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; a trading boat, which escorts such characters as Herge’s Tintin, sails down the Congo while cadaverous natives peer from the jungle, some missing limbs at the hand of Belgian colonizer King Leopold II. The image cascades into a psychedelic Ancient Egypt, where Rolling Stones member Brian Jones undergoes mummification and Francis Bacon takes tea with William Burroughs. Elsewhere in Sangre de los Pervertidos(2012) Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean-French filmmaker and hater of all things Disney, oversees a brutal yet humorous slaughter of his animated enemies and their embodied commercialism. In this scurrilous theatre, Dumbo's head is shot straight through; an axe belonging to one of the seven dwarfs has decapitated Tinkerbell; and The Little Mermaid’s fish-tail is bloodily truncated. Other beloved Disney characters lay strewn across the desert floor, and the viewer is invited to take a macabre satisfaction in the drama. Historically, Fox has worked predominantly in black and white, however Sangre de los Pervertidos exhibits his sensitive handling of color across a large scale work; engaging primary colors are balanced throughout a rhythmic composition, carrying the viewer’s eye comfortably across the cartoon genocide.
Fox’s work avoids being a mere visual objectification of pre-inherited cultural histories; the knotted and multifarious literary, philosophical and artistic references illustrated through Fox’s protagonists and visual situations mean that a multiplicity of rebellious ideas are pitched into visual and abstract dialogue. The viewer is asked to critically engage to bring these artworks to life: the artist’s ocular novels represent ideas that are unorthodox in normative society and so recognizing and facilitating the philosophies manifest in his drawings require that the viewer is ‘in the know’. This happily substantiates that alternative modes of knowledge are still shared, ultimately available to popular culture, yet still primarily passed through subversive circuits of communication, such as Fox’s artworks."