Article: Christopher George
Hailed as the artist that inspired Dismaland, Gillette’s work may be familiar since Banksy brought it to the British public’s attention last year. While Gillette’s work was included as part of the first-of-its-kind bemusement park, the installations all shared a common theme that echoed the artist’s signature subversion of Disney and its characters.
Featuring 15 paintings, Gillette’s latest body of work is a continuation of the post-apocalyptic scenes he’s been creating for over 20 years. This time, however, Gillette turns the tables on Banksy, with many scenes in his new work inspired by Dismaland.
Dismaland Calais is based on Banksy’s digital realization of the Dismaland Castle, reimagined within the Calais refugee camp. In the painting Gillette adds his own surprises, Dismaland detritus scattered about amongst the ramshackle tents, tear gas canisters rolling in the background, and the occasional Dismaland employee wandering in the ‘jungle camp’.
Other works show a huge landfill with a broken down London Eye, London in need of ‘Dismal-Aid’, Mickey Mouse living in a slum and Minnie Mouse on a billboard hovering over a post-nuclear Hiroshima wasteland.
Gillette’s long-standing favour of juxtaposing Disney images with slums and scenes of despair and ruin came during a period of soul searching.
“In my late twenties I ended up joining the Peace Corps in Nepal. I was there for two years in an isolated environment where I had too much time to read heavy books and think.
“I discovered the views of the ultimate pessimist: German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, and found solace in his ideas about suffering and art. From here the idea of taking the things people love and imposing the worst-case scenario was born. My work is basically the visual soundtrack to his ideas with an injection of humour.”
Post Dismal runs from Friday 24 June to Saturday 23 July at Lawrence Alkin Gallery, 42 New Compton Street London WC2H 8DA