Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Art Review - Gus Fink

Using a "brush name" comprised of his childhood nickname "Gus" and his grandfather's last name, "Finklestein", twentysomething right-handed artist Josh Fields fabricated a biography of mentally ill middle-aged widower Gus Fink. He used this character to sell offbeat artwork drawn with his left hand at low prices on Ebay, his listings accompanied by the faux life story, selling art like hotcakes. Fink is an Ebay phenomena, having sold thousands of his works supported by the guise, and is considered one of the greatest Ebay hoaxers. His true identity was outed on the internet, and has since dropped the bio of Gus Fink, but kept the name and continues to sell. He's now internationally collected and has shown in galleries across the country, been spotted in major motion pictures, and illustrated several books. His self-branded "outsider art" appeals to horror fans, goth kids, and collectors of strange things.

Some of Fink's work covers the standard "cute horror" art themes: creepy children, cute cartoons, guts, pointed teeth, religious undertones, adorable animals like bunnies, kittens and birds, characters with wide-set low eyes and large heads, splatters, scribbles, stitches, and primitive animals and figures that look as if drawn by a child. Despite his goal to create art on his own in the vein of self-taught "folk art", without the influence of teachers or fellow artists, the style and characters of nightmarish comic book artists Jhonen Vasquez and Roman Dirge are an obvious influence over Fink's work.

However, Fink builds on that base and branches off from the usual themes to develop his style. Much of his work is "altered art", using old photographs, board games, dictionaries, even straw wrappers and multivitamins as a base - pretty much anything that strikes him as being worthy of rebirth as art. He draws his frightening figures using a mixed-media grab bag that might include acrylic paint, pencils, oil sticks, Sharpies, inks, tape, china marker, and/or pen over those base materials to create something new. The mixed media and underlying material lend a fresh spin and unique flavour to the tired cute horror fad.

When it comes to Fink's work, it is less complicated to speak on the works as a whole as opposed to choosing one or two on which to comment, because the pieces are so multitudinous. To view the volume of his pieces, one must conclude that his process is impulsive, and that he must work often, completing more than one piece in a sitting. His composition and line is crude, and his palette limited - but of course, that's the gimmick.

Fink currently has several comic books published, and is releasing a series of Boogilyheads dolls. More news and a gallery of his works can be seen at his website, http://www.gusfink.com.

3 Horrids, Gus Fink

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