October 10, 2014

"Brutal, bilious" cartooning

Cartoon by HM Bateman
In his canonical article, 'The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved', Hunter S. Thompson wrote about Ralph Steadman and his drawing habit. A habit whose product was "brutal" and "bilious" cartoons. Thompson explained:
"[A problem with Ralph Steadman] was his habit of sketching people he met in the various social situations I dragged him into—then giving them the sketches. The results were always unfortunate. I warned him several times about letting the subjects see his foul renderings, but for some perverse reason he kept doing it. Consequently, he was regarded with fear and loathing by nearly everyone who’d seen or even heard about his work. He couldn’t understand it. "It’s sort of a joke," he kept saying. "Why, in England it’s quite normal. People don’t take offense. They understand that I’m just putting them on a bit." "Fuck England," I said. "This is Middle America. These people regard
what you’re doing to them as a brutal, bilious insult. Look what
 happened last night. I thought my brother was going to tear your head
off.” Steadman shook his head sadly. “But I liked him. He struck me as a very decent, straightforward sort.” “Look, Ralph,” I said. “Let’s not kid ourselves. That was a very
 horrible drawing you gave him. It was the face of a monster. It got on
his nerves very badly.” I shrugged. “Why in hell do you think we left
the restaurant so fast?"
Thompson said the "the people there thought that an ugly drawing of somebody is an insult." Ralph Steadman said that "Hunter S. Thompson always used to call my work ‘filthy scribblings’!" Steadman also said
"Hunter S. Thompson… took me [to the Pendennis Club in Kentucky] and I started drawing the people there. It’s a funny thing, but the people there thought that an ugly drawing of somebody is an insult, like tantamount to smacking someone in the face."
Read here about Steadman's "maniacal" cartoons here. For Ronald Searle, his cruel cartooning was merely a throwback to the old traditions of English graphic satire. He said:
"One of the criticisms I’ve often had thrown at me, particularly when I first tried to establish my own particular brand of cartooning and caricaturing after the war, was that it was too grotesque and rather cruel. Well I think I’m merely a throwback to the old traditions of English 18th century, early 19th century graphic satire. Admittedly if most of those people were working now they would be spending their days in jail; I don’t go as far as that. But also as everyone knows, that element of enjoyment of certain amount of cruelty does lurk in everyone."
Stefan Kanfer said: "Most people think of caricature as mean." Thomas Browne wrote in ‘Christian Morals’ (published posthumously in 1716): "When Men’s faces are drawn with resemblance to some other Animals, the Italians call it, to be drawn in Caricatura." Ralph Steadman explained how drawing allows you to say things writers can't:
"“The only thing of value is a thing you cannot say, but you can see it.” That’s Wittgenstein, a German philosopher you probably know. When I first heard that quote, it made me realize that there is something to the idea of drawing something rather than writing it. You can say much more, so much more subtly or more interestingly. Because you try to explain something in words and it just doesn’t work, you can’t quite put into words some of the weird things that you might possibly think of. You let things happen in pictures."
He also said: "Cartooning meant more to me than just funny pictures. I needed to apply it as a weapon almost."

Belfast caricaturist Miguel Martin was asked: Why do you choose to draw people “not nice”? Miguel explained:
"Not Nice portraits are my own brand of drawing within the genre of caricature. I get more enjoyment from seeing someone have the confidence to laugh at themselves through my depiction."
And responding to "Has anyone ever been offended by your caricature?" he said:
"I’ve only ever had two complaints but I later discovered they just didnt understand the concept despite the clue in the title"
 Also check out this guy below and here:

Nigel Spivey said in 'How Art Made The World' that the impulse to exaggerate is a "primeval instinct" and that "the instinct to exaggerate is still alive today." The Neurologist professor V.S. Ramachandran said:
"It was too realistic and that makes it boring. If art is about realism, why do you need art? You can go around just looking at things… You have to do interesting things with the image, distort it in specific ways, not randomly distort it but lawfully distort it, in order to exaggerate the brains aesthetic response."
Francis Bacon said:
"You can’t any longer make illustration because it’s done so much better by the camera, and by the cinema, so you have to really concentrate on making images that are a concentration of reality and a shorthand of sensation." 
"You must distort to transform what is called appearance into image. The more artificial you can make it the greater chance you’ve got of making it look real."
And said:
"Real painters do not paint things as they are… they paint them as they themselves feel them to be."

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