Bigger haunted insane

Naked girls, boozing cowboys, pineapples and boxers are Danny Fox’s canvas mates
By Alex James Taylor | Art | 29 October 2014

Danny Fox, courtesy the artist

Cornwall born artist Danny Fox currently resides in North London, in a bedsit-come-atelier he shares with countless towering canvases. Vividly coloured and adorned in imagery, from greek mythology to drunken cowboys, naked girls to pineapples, boxers to ladyboys, Fox adopts a collage style of painting baring similarities with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s layered aesthetic.

Building narrative through combining iconography, symbolism, imagined narrative and personal memories and stories Fox’s expressive style evolves piece by piece. Highly individualistic, his work entices you into his idiosyncratic world, equally atmospheric and provocative. You can imagine the creative persona within Fox, talking and chuckling to himself while compulsively improvising his compositions of cartoon images, whimsical imagery and sleazy characters plucked from his imagination. A buoyant, comical spirit prevails as his tongue in cheek wit is reflected within his work – Roman-esque phallic handled Grecian urns stand proud amongst the prolific collection of paintings.

Alex James Taylor: Your latest exhibition has just opened at the Cock ’n’ Bull Gallery, can you tell us more about it?
There are 17 paintings in the show and two sort of sculptures. Its about a year’s work, mostly big paintings that I painted in my studio in Kentish Town. The whole show started with a sketch I did on an envelope one day, it was a different kind of drawing than I would normally do. The eyes were different, bigger, haunted, insane, tired. I felt like it had movement that my drawings had never had before so I tried to take that into these big canvases.

There’s no overall theme of the show, each painting has its own story, although there is a continuous feeling that runs through them when they’re hung up together. There are boxers and horses and drinkers and women and beasts.

AT: I hear that you’re in a band…Or used to be in a band? 
I used to be in a band. We were called BOSS UNIVERSE. It’s over.

AT: When you’re working do you listen to music or do you prefer silence?
DF: Most of the time I have music playing… the best is instrumental stuff, movie soundtracks, some classical shit, piano etc. I’m a bit sick of everyone’s singing and their shitty lyrics. Vic Chesnutt is the only person’s lyrics I can stand at the moment, I love his music.

AT: There’s many different characters within your work, are these based on real people or concocted in your imagination?
DF: They’re nearly all from my imagination but my imagination is made up of real people, but people aren’t really real, are they…

Danny Fox. Courtesy the artist and Cock ‘n’ Bull gallery

AT: It seems that you are quite an impulsive painter…
DF: I have an impulsive style yes but it takes a long time to get there. I don’t really plan paintings, just because I don’t like the look of planned paintings.

AT: Would you call yourself a perfectionist at all? Surely that contrasts with the impulsiveness in you?
DF: Yeah it does sometimes. Sometimes I get a painting right first time but I can’t keep it because it feels like there’s not enough work in it. So the paintings have many layers in them because I’m a perfectionist and I keep painting over them over and over until I’m happy. But I can’t get it too early either because it won’t have that built up feel that comes with all the perfectionist mistake making.

AT: How do you know when a piece is finished?
DF: That’s one of those questions artists get asked a lot and some of them come up with clever little things to say like Pollock said, “How do you know when you’re done making love,” which implies he cums in his dungarees. I don’t know, it’s a hard question.

AT: I hear that you enjoy travelling and often go abroad, what are some of your favourite places you’ve visited?
DF: These days I like traveling and working the best. I did a trip recently to Moscow with some mates for an exhibition we put on… it’s such a good way to travel, you get to know the locals and they show the best places to go. Moscow was a lot of fun, wicked place. I was in Lisbon recently too that was a cool place.

Danny Fox. Courtesy the artist and Cock ‘n’ Bull gallery

AT: Have the subjects of your work changed over time?
DF: Yeah. When I first started really painting as a teenager I only painted my girlfriends.

AT: Do you see your work as a way of communicating with others or do you see it more as something for yourself?
DF: There are so many ways to communicate with people now days, painting is the last thing you need to do to communicate with anyone. I do it so I don’t have to communicate with anyone… Well, it used it be like that, but now, here I am. Communicating.

AT: What do you do outside of art? 
DF: Go to the pub. Watch the football. Read about serial killers or something. Watch shitty movies.

AT: Are there any emerging artists you are particularly into at the moment?
DF: I saw some great new pieces by Kingsley Ifill the other day.

Danny Fox’s paintings are on show until 8th November at Cock ‘n’ Bull gallery, 32 Rivington Street London EC2A 3LX. You can also eat while surveying the artist’s works upstairs from the gallery at Tramshed restaurant, where Fox’s pieces are on show next to Damien Hirst’s mammoth cow and cock sculpture. 

Read Next