Since we last spoke to him a year ago, artist Danny Fox tells us he’s been “mostly painting and making things in Los Angeles”, with a few travels abroad thrown in. “I did a few trips, I went to Mexico City for a bit,” he says. “I also just did a 30-day painting residency at the Porthmeor studios in St. Ives again.”
The self-taught painter grew up in 20th Century painter’s paradise St Ives, a seaside town whose influence can still be read in Danny’s consciously naive work. Age 17, he headed to London for a decade-long stint before two years ago moving on to LA, where he now makes work from his studio on Skid Row.
As Trump’s presidency lurches from disaster to fresh disaster, Danny’s work seems to hit upon a newly politicised note. One is titled The Prodigal Son In Misery at the Women’s March. In another, Danny appears to directly reference President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal with a depiction of two women waiting nervously in a Planned Parenthood waiting room. The “New Foundation for American Greatness” proposed cuts of trillions of dollars of spending across the next ten years which would mean Planned Parenthood and abortion providers from having access to federal funds which currently finance health care services from millions of people across America. But Danny tells us firmly that his reason for making the painting was bound firmly to the personal rather than the political. “The painting really has nothing directly to do with Donald Trump. It’s just about spending time in one last year when my wife fell pregnant. Unfortunately the pregnancy didn’t work out — I haven’t worked out the proper way to say that yet. The place had a strange feel to it, something beyond medicinal, almost chapel-like. My wife does a lot of charity work for them now.”
Next week, Danny’s work is due to be exhibited this side of the Atlantic in a new group show at Saatchi gallery. Iconoclasts: Art Out of the Mainstream opens 27 September, and as its title suggests, the show considers work of 13 artists who the gallery considers to linger outside the art world bubble. Despite making work from his Kentish Town studio for a decade in London, Danny was largely ignored by the art establishment until Mark Hix and Sue Webster — themselves perceived, in the early days of their careers, as outside the normative — got behind his work. Does Danny consider his own work as iconoclastic? “In a way,” he says. “I tend to work with the classic genres of painting so my versions of these classics could be I suppose. The word often is tangled with religious sentiments. There is a painting in the show based on the parable of the prodigal son, a story from the bible, so that could be considered iconoclastic.”
Prodigal son or iconoclast? Decide for yourself at Iconoclasts at Saatchi Gallery, 27th September 2017 – 7th January 2018.
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