I can’t count how many times I was on the verge to write about David Shillinglaw‘s art and than I stopped myself. Or rather, the more I delved into his work the more I found myself ‘lost’ in an endless play of mental associations and enjoyable abstract wanderings.
It all started with The Dance of 1000 Faces, a book that ‘celebrates the artwork and adventures of David Shillinglaw‘ from 2010 to 2012. His journal drawings, wall murals and paintings look immediately joyful and funny.
The artist creates an universe of faces with multiplied eyes and broad grins, complex labyrinths of lines and marks. An overall joyful chaos emanates from every work.
The book also collects numerous journal drawings. Each of them represents a stylized face filled with either single words or full statements. Through a heap of marks and words the overall effect reminds of the medieval horror vacui, with its tendency to occupy every corner of an artwork for fear of emptiness. The word mind-map has never sounded more suitable than here. The features of the faces are filled with an explosion of words as if they were the many thoughts and feelings flowing in the artist’s mind. Sometimes the words describe a part of the face, but more often they contain personal references like dates, things to do, but also fast thoughts, creeping feelings and sharply original plays with words.
But do not try to interpret the character of David Shillinglaw from this. The flowing of words seems to correspond to his personal free-wheeling associative threads that no objective logics can cage. Shillinglaw is perfectly comfortable with the mental chaos that a trip in the subconscious can cause, and with his work we can try to reach the same state.
Instead of trying to enter into his personal universe, these drawings allow for a similar exercise of imagination but applied to ourselves, not to the artist that created them. And, while happily lost in these mind-maps, I found myself humming two different songs by Devendra Banhart (a songwriter that I personally adore) only because I singled out some words. Or smiling at my own personal associations triggered by something in the pieces. It does not matter what these imaginative connections were. You will find yours, and this is the best part of experiencing David Shillinglaw’s The Dance of 1000 Faces.
When you feel like expanding your own inner explorations, The Dance of 1000 Faces is a great travel companion.
More of David Shillinglaw‘s fantastic art on his website. If you want to buy your own copy of The Dance of 1000 Faces you can find it here.
Thanks to David Shillinglaw for the images.