After moving from London to Skid Row, the painter presents his new series – featuring signature motifs of nudes, booze, and horses
Since last speaking with Dazed, self-taught painter, Danny Fox, has made the move from London to LA, where he now lives on Skid Row. "I've been using grey and brown more and more”, he tells me when I ask how it’s changed him and his work. "There are these endless flat slabs of concrete grey with a dirty brown mashed all over them and then some blue up high. It’s smoggy, so there is a grey/brown cloud hanging around.” The evidence of this can be seen in his latest show, A Spoon With A Bread Knife, whose title is a nod to the Cockney slang for ‘wife’. It’s here where we are introduced to a softer side of Fox’s work – with an ode to his own spouse. “It relates to the show because of the paintings of women,” he says, "two of which are reclining nudes based on my wife. But also it just acknowledges the love and the peace my wife brings to my life which enables me to paint in the first place."
But Fox purists fear not, his signature motifs; nudes, booze, horses, are all still very present. And have always been, ever since, as he says, he got sick of his “own bullshit”. Revealing, "I started painting the things I enjoyed in life; drinking, strippers, figures from history books, TV, and movies.”
With his new show now open at Copenhagen’s V1 Gallery, we caught up with Fox over email to find out more.
“A balance of dark and light is the key to the great painting or poem or anything, really. You can't have the spoon without the breadknife” – Danny Fox
Last time we spoke, you told me that you paint from experience – is there a general narrative or story behind this show/series of work?
Danny Fox: The work is tied together through the colour and style more than the stories in this show. There are some paintings of women, some of horse riders, some still lifes, and some landscapes – it's a right mixed bag. There is this maddening red that goes through them all.
A Spoon With The Bread Knife, the title of the show is a reference to English rhyming slang where the bread knife translates to wife and spoon to cuddle – tell us about the decision to name it this, why this reference? How does it relate to the paintings?
Danny Fox: Well, that's kind of a mistranslation. I just meant 'a spoon' like spooning as in laying in bed having a spoon with the Mrs – it's not rhyming slang. But bread knife is rhyming slang for ‘wife’, it relates to the show because of the paintings of women, two of which are reclining nudes based on my wife. But also it just acknowledges the love and the peace my wife brings to my life which enables me to paint in the first place. Also, it sounds like a good still life, a smooth thing with a rough thing.
I always enjoy the titles you give your individual works too – how important are these to the works themselves in giving them their stories and meanings?
Danny Fox: I enjoy it too. To me, they are very important and I get great satisfaction out of a good title that can help someone see the painting the way I do. But some people would say that's lazy and the painting should do all the talking.
What fascinates you so much about humanity and why do you continue to use it as your focus?
Danny Fox: It’s quite hard to think of a piece of art that isn't about humanity. Art is humanity and the way that humans interpret this thing called life. But I like making paintings about history, it’s interesting to look back on the human experience, dragging, kicking, screaming, burning.
You're known for creating large amounts of work in a short period of time – how many paintings were you working on for this show before curating them down?
Danny Fox: I do make a lot of paintings but I get rid of a lot more. When I moved to LA, I suddenly had so much more space so I made a lot of work in a short space of time. In this show, there are some preliminary drawings for the bigger paintings, which is the first time I’ve shown any of them. I don’t curate them down I just paint over them til they are good.
There’s a dark side to your work – is this deliberate?
Danny Fox: A balance of dark and light is the key to the great painting or poem or anything, really. You can't have the spoon without the breadknife.
What are you hoping visitors take away / think / feel from this show?
Danny Fox: When I used to go to art shows, often I would have to leave the gallery and run home to paint. Sometimes because I was so inspired and filled with energy, sometimes because I felt so defeated and thought I need to work harder, and sometimes because the show was so bad I began to believe I could really do it. So, if you feel anything, good for you.
A Spoon With The Bread Knife runs at Copenhagen’s V1 Gallery until 14 January 2017