Frieze Week - Day 3

Everyone goes to the Zoo; plus an interview with twisted painter Jason Fox.

The late nights, the diet of canapés, coffee and booze, and the visual overdose of art are beginning to wear everyone down. Trudge with sore eyes down to Zoo, which is no longer at the Zoo but at Burlington Gardens near the RA. Apparently they reached capacity in the first 15 minutes, and there are two massive queues to get in – one for VIPs (the moneyed) and one for invitees (the poor but worthy). We each eye the other up with mistrust as we wait 45 minutes to get into the bloody place.

Once in it’s worth it – there are some great galleries. The major discovery for me is Copenhagen’s V1 Gallery, who reps Richard Coleman, Todd James and amazing Danish artist Troels Carlsen who works on top of Victorian engravings. Graham Hudson made a stunning sculpture at Rokeby out of bin bags, old chairs and discarded crap, while Seventeen sold out of Paul B Davis and CutUp pieces. I escape and forge east, seeing Pure Evil’s one man show on Leonard Street, filled with Warhol-style paintings of Diana’s car crash and fantasy pop art, before heading to Dazed’s own gallery to see an interesting group show about war. Then to Seduced at the Barbican to have a peek at the over-18s show on sex in art; worth it for my favourite Araki series alone – a group of black and white close ups of sex, odd fruit and fish. Jump in a lazy cab to Truman Brewery and crash the Artforum party where we’re plied with vodka and ginger beer. The week is slowing down (though the public have the whole weekend to join in). I’ll be popping to satellite fairs Year07 and Pulse, Matthew Barney at Sadie Coles' off-site space, and Philipps de Pury to see Nile Rodgers and Chic. Then the bruised, worn and weary art faithful will retreat... at least until Miami Basel in December.

A Q&A with Jason Fox
American painter Jason Fox makes warped and wonderful paintings. He’s also the winner of the 2006 Champagne Perrier-Jouët Prize for Best Artist at Zoo Art Fair, where he has a solo show.

Dazed Digital: The characters in your paintings are often distorted and twisted - why do you approach them that way?
Jason Fox: I've always thought of my figures as being assembled from bits and parts of various visual information and sources in a Frankenstein-ish way, which gives me more freedom - even though in some ways I'm just draping different figurative ideas on my own body which provides the consistent skeleton from painting to painting.
DD: There is something satirical and loosely political in the way your work examines contemporary American society. Is that something intentional?
JF: Subject matter has always been a means to and end which is hopefully to make something visually interesting and not too derivative, but I think its important not to be afraid of using political subject matter if that’s what the work needs... I think the idea that inserting Political ideas and images into your work somehow simplifies or lessens it is absurd and reactionary (see Roland Barthes essay on Neither-Nor Criticism). Regarding contemporary American society a big influence was discovering the writings of Philip K Dick in the early 1990's and feeling an instant agreement and understanding of his view of America as a place ruled by dark forces.
DD: Often the faces you paint have unclear or no features - why?
JF: I find eyes tricky for some reason, so its easier to leave them out sometimes, and I like the resulting symbolism (Oedipus, torture etc), referring back to the last question people in America seem so blind to what goes on in the rest of the world. Also sometimes its fun to lay down a white monochrome ground where the face should be.
DD: Can you tell me more about your influences and inspirations? Comics definitely seem to feed into your work.
JF: Pontormo, Kirby, Newman, Stella, Peyton, Peanuts, Marden, etc...I can go on and on. I look at as much art and various visual information as I can, its like essential nutrients. Comics have been an influence, but not as much as people may think. I'm not interested in the culture of comics are specific artists that I like.
DD: How do you feel about Frieze, Zoo and the art fairs?
JF: I'm glad they exist. Fairs help artists make a living and get exposure, but as a viewer I don't enjoy them - way too much stuff, and as an artist I find it a bit depressing in that at fairs you see what dealers think will sell and I usually feel my work is quite distant from that market reality.