Picture of Dillon Douglas and Chris Louis

What inspires you?

I think what inspires us is a specific kind of ecstasy¾in the sense of “being outside of oneself,” immersing ourselves within the mosaic brawl of stimuli that saturate our day to day lives. The ego is very stuffy and claustrophobic. It is abysmal to type away in the cubicle of the ego that folds into itself, becomes fenced in and crowned with barbed wire, a mannequin infinitely gazing into the blue square of the screen like Narcissus before the pool. We are always looking for a form of escape, alterity, transformation, a line of flight as Deleuze and Guattari call it. This is why it is ideal to grab hold of or be impaled by the javelins of stimuli whipping by your head to see where they take you instead of systematically dodging them. In our cosmology, a bag of Doritos and a Basquiat piece are just was equally catalyzing.

 Chris and I are always collaborating in the studio and feeding off each other’s energy¾pushing each other past our limits. Ideas are parties that spawn in this process of collaborating. Ecstasy is a method, an existential technique. Inspiration is this habit of “getting outside of oneself,” collaborating and opening the windows to the azure, to angelic oxygen, to the other, to alterity. But this “ecstasy” also transcends intersubjective relations. As T.S. Eliot writes in “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” “The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.” One becomes a medium of the past and entities lingering outside of human presence. We are extremely animated by diving into the sublime archive of history¾of the various art traditions that hijack our psyches (Basquiat, Bacon, Haring, Guston, Fra Angelico, Richter, Warhol, Klee, Kandinsky, Arthur Boyd). Philip Guston was also fond alluding to this existential method of ecstasy: he quotes a conversation between himself and John Cage, where Cage tells him that “when you start working, everybody is in your studio¾the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas¾all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one. And you are completely left alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.”  

Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?

I would have to say metaphor or metaphoricity: wooing images, organisms and figures together that do not quite belong, melding them into aberrant combinations in order to create “meaning,” “euphoric semiosis,” a new way of computing the world. This is why we both have a kind of anaphylactic reaction to abstraction in and of itself. With abstraction, you limit your ability to fully speak, to critique the world, to celebrate to world, to be political, to be explicit. Of course, we aren’t naïve: a purple Rothko can express the abyss and scintilla of finitude better than almost any painting in the history of human culture. But it would be very difficult to critique police brutality or climate change in a few colours ambiguously arranged.

I think, moreover, painting for us is less a matter of technique or technical skill than it is a way of interrogating the world with each atom in our bodies on fire and in fury¾trying to choreograph unique experiments in particle collision and asking questions about the aftermath and things that erupt in the process. Art is all about tarrying with the detour like a delirious acrobat.

Krank Media House Studio

What work of art have you seen recently that you can’t get out of your head?

While we are both incorrigible Basquiat groupies, I’ve been trying to proselytize Chris into the world of Philip Guston¾specifically “Painters Forms II” (1978) and “The Tormentors” (1948).  Where does one even begin with these paintings? “Painters Forms II” is utter dynamite. A floating mouth ejects an intestinal mob of blushing legs, knees and feet. I can’t help but read this image in terms of what Deleuze and Guattari call the “deterritorialization of the mouth”: the “mouth, tongue and teeth find their primitive territoriality in food. In giving themselves over to the articulation of sounds, the mouth, tongue and teeth deterritorialize.” In other words, the stomach is more primordial than speech. To speak, then, is to fast¾to repress the sovereignty of the gut. In Guston’s painting, the gut takes revenge on the organ of language and begins to form an aching multiplicity of escaping feet trying to stand on their own, trying to give birth to themselves. “The Tormentors,” simply, is the most precise map for understanding Dante’s Inferno with its mesmerizing reds and lucid blacks.

Why do you make art?

I don’t really like this question, which is also why I choose it. This might cause a firecracker of aneurysms to detonate in your heads, but Chris and I have only really been seriously painting and making sculptures for a few months. There are many utilitarian reasons why we make art: trying to escape the wage relation, trying to make a living, trying to find sacred particles of serotonin deep within the alleys of the brain, trying to form a community, trying to find “meaning” and make meaning. But I don’t think it comes from a clear, enchanted and rational decision-making process. We don’t have a choice. It spawns from necessity¾the way tusks jut and protrude out of an elephant’s massive, excellent mouth. Art seemed to emerge outside of our control while we were both digging into the enigma of modern life. So, really, we should be asking why art choose us? What does it want from us? Why did it hijack us at the time and place that it did?

Do you have any artistic projects coming up?

We have a panoply of projects coming up! More art, more sculptures, more music, more mayhem!

Instagram: @krankmediahouse @poetry.sux @456clo456