Every Friday, BULLETT’s introducing our favorite Instagram profiles and getting to know the people behind the posts.
Art that feels like an acid trip has been in since the ‘70s––but back then, it was all rainbows and Grateful Dead skulls. Or maybe that’s just what remains of my dad’s art collection. Either way, since then, trippy art has merged with surrealism, and turned into a popular way of lightheartedly expressing the absurdity of everyday life. Of course, the platform where we find this kind of work has also changed shape––now, everything good is on Instagram, so that means you can basically find painted chemtrails online.
One of our favorite artists, Alex Gamsu Jenkins, falls somewhere between Peter Max and Salvador Dali––as far as we know, he’s not a stoner, but he found studying art to be tedious, and couldn’t always figure out how to vocalize the meaning of his own work. Jenkins may not always be sure what he’s trying to say, but his work will definitely leave you feeling unnerved and questioning your own bad behaviors. With imagery surrounding gluttony, masturbation, class warfare and police brutality, the 28-year-old artist targets all of the grossest parts of humanity––with a good sense of humor and a healthy dose of protest.
How would you describe your art?
I try to think of mundane, everyday things that have surreal elements to them. I also like things that are slightly macabre or humorous.
How has your style developed into what it is now?
I always drew when I was young, but when I was about 10, I stopped. I went to a bit of a rough school and neglected art until my early 20s. I didn’t know what do with my life––I was working in a supermarket, a manager-scheme thing––and that sort of inspired my bleak work and pushed me into the career of illustration, which was a complete contrast.
Did some of the scenes you encountered in the supermarket inspire your art?
Definitely, character-wise. My uncle introduced me to the work of Robert Crumb, and I thought he was just amazing––I didn’t realize you could make art that was grotesque, and sort of lowbrow, but have it be respected as a high art form. I was disconnected from art for a long time, but I always associated it more with stuff that was more highbrow. So he’s really inspired me.
What themes do you explore?
Everyday things, but giving it an absurd element. I don’t have a great education when it comes to art, so it’s hard to articulate. But I like to find the absurdity in the everyday. And I think going forward, I’d like to try looking at narrative and animation.
Some of your work is about politics. Do you think it’s important for artists to be political?
Sometimes I get insecure about it, because I think maybe I’m not well-read enough to give an informed viewpoint. But if you feel something, you can reiterate it through art––no matter how much you understand it.
You said you find it hard to talk about your work. Why?
I remember even at my university, we came to our final piece where everyone had really elaborate titles and descriptions of their work. In mine, I just panicked. I’m saying something, but I don’t know how to put it into a paragraph.
What does drawing do for you, personally?
It gives me a sense of purpose. I’ve always felt like I wanted to get out of doing whatever jobs I’ve had straight away––every other job has left me feeling stifled and frustrated. But drawing is something I can sit down and do, and never feel like procrastinating.