If you’re a fan of street art, Norway will be the place to go this September. While on your way to visit the 2016 Nuart Festival, make sure you stop by the Nuart Gallery, where the American legend Jeff Gillette will have his first ever solo exhibition in Scandinavia, under the name Dismayland NORD. His entropic visions of the Disneyland, inspired by the artist’s travels around the world, will be on view in Stavanger in order to provoke a dialogue about popular culture and satire which carries a strong message about the society we live in. Will these images be terrifying or simply truthful? The visitors will be there to decide.
Let’s go back to the summer of 2015, when the art world was taken by the storm by a bemusement park which arose on the English coast, fairly close to Bristol. Of course, we are talking about Banksy’s Dismaland, which gathered a great number of artists who contributed to the eerie, utopian atmosphere it so strongly promoted. Among them, there was Jeff Gillette, who was even cited as an inspiration for the show in some of its parts. With his amusing juxtapositions of Disney, its logos, settings and characters, as well as pop icons from the consumerist culture, the French fit perfectly in the concept of Banksy’s artwork. Now, his Dismayland NORD will indeed travel North for its own show and will be just as original and entertaining as ever.
If Banksy is considered the world’s biggest street artist, it may come as a surprise that he was actually inspired by Jeff Gillette, his wit and a sense for irony. Gillette traveled to the most wretched places on the planet for inspiration, from third-world slums in Nepal, back in the late 1980s to Mumbai in 2012. His experiences of favelas, barrios, basis and shantytowns in North Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Mexico and Bangladesh gave him a horrifying picture of humanity in suffering and the cruel conditions in which the citizens of these slums live. The artist, however, managed to find a way to turn it into debris architecture that reference things like the Disney logo, in which one can find the most famous characters like Mickey Mouse. Their slum-scape is a true Dismayland, soaked in despair, filth, garbage.
Jeff Gillette’s sculptures, drawings, paintings and installations, although inspired by the slums and their terrifying reality, evoke a kind of strange beauty, providing spectacular visuals of color, space, texture and form. His pieces are definitely well-designed to hold our attention and make us examine every detail with care, courtesy of their complexity and conceptual brilliance. Dismayland NORD, an exhibition of works by Jeff Gillette, will be on view at Nuart Gallery in Stavanger, Norway, from September 9th through October 1st, 2016. The preview is scheduled for September 8th from 7pm to 10pm.
Featured images in slider: Apocalyptopian Rat; SLUM!. All images courtesy of Nuart.