Dusty Rich the artist, South African spawned and currently living and creating in West End, Brisbane, Australia is soon to launch his first solo show Pest Control at the Pink Hotel Coolangatta. Dusty is versed in multiple art disciplines but prefers the speed and noxious fumes of aerosol creating pieces that are sharp, loud, and vibrant – just like his personality. His first solo exhibition, with works ranging from violent delights to massive cockroaches on two-metre tall canvas, kicks off on the 11th of November. We snuck in some questions with Dusty ahead of time to find out what’s in the works.
Howdy Dusty, what can you tell us about Pest Control?
Pest Control is the propane tank of my creative energy. It won’t be like any other art exhibition you have attended – it is a Dusty Rich experience. My creativity is a blessing and a curse. There is too much going on in my mind, so this exhibition and the many to follow, are the valves releasing some of the flame – one experience at a time. It’s titled Pest Control because it’s the literal control of the pests that inhabit the inside spaces of my mind.
How are you going with your preparation?
This is the toughest challenge I have ever taken on as far as my art goes. It is consuming each minute of my day and I am working on it non-stop. It’s terrifying but thrilling at the same time. I’m addicted. The preparation is killing, but I love every second. Just typing this out feels like I’m being adulterous to the work. Like if the cans see me typing and not spraying they’ll leave me. The canvas sits there like a lover I haven’t reassured and will look for another if I don’t come back to her soon. These self-help gurus always feed you these watered-down pleasantries like ‘if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life’ when really the truth is, ‘if you love what you do it will consume you’. And it consumes me. I have a vision and I am not willing to compromise on it, that comes with sacrifice built-in.
How did the chance to put on Pest Control come about?
I’m a self-taught artist (as with most of us) so the exhibition side of things has always been quite daunting an idea. Putting a body of work together in a specific location always seemed like an idea too far. So I decided to roll with some audacity and just put it on, less overthinking and just face the cliff and jump.
I do stand up comedy at Eddie’s Grub House in Coolangatta, these gigs have now become my own personal punk rock – a space of free expression. I’ve been able to hone that side of my mind freely. The way I do comedy and art is like throwing a file cabinet down a flight of stairs. You get whatever is flung out along the way.
The crew that run Eddie’s decided to recreate the Pink Hotel, this magnificently flawed diamond. This crew of misfits, in their most punk purity, were audacious enough to create this magnificent hotel. I was inspired by them. They have a suite in the hotel called the artist suite. It felt like it had already been written. I pitched the idea and The Pink Hotel provides the cocoon for the creations.
What has been involved in making it happen?
A no-excuses-uncompromising fortitude to my vision. Even though some of the work has taken my body and mind to very uncomfortable places.
I have created pieces that range from traditional canvas work with aerosol paint and hours and hours of masking and masking removal. Some pieces have been created out of wooden multiple level panel work. Cutting individual layers out with jigsaws, hand saws, and scroll saws. Assembling, gluing screwing, painting, and finishing. I’ve also framed all artworks in float frames myself, created easels for display, lighting and all finishing.
The roach costumes for the ‘Infestation’ were designed and created from scratch. There is no precedent for the type and feel of the costumes, that came straight out of and idea and I had to make many iterations to get the finished product where I wanted it.
I have drawn on skills I didn’t have to make some of the ideas come to life. You ever made a three-metre tall version of a bug spray can that has a smoke machine hidden inside that sprays out of the nozzle when viewers come into the exhibit? Well, I have now. Not to mention a two-metre tall cockroach with LED lighting and an accompanying creepy laser insect sound effect.
Making this happen has taken me to creative and production levels I never knew I had. 18 hour days for weeks on end in a studio filled with fumes, the Brisbane heat and my ideas mixing like a caustic primal ooze glowing the finished pieces to crawl out.
But most of all me, I made this shit happen. This arrogant asshole. Seriously though, I have poured my life force into this. I’ve literally bled into some of the pieces, slicing my hands up using a scalpel or a scroll saw. That red looks so deep, it is!
How would you describe the work that you’re putting together?
Loud and unapologetically Dusty Rich! I want people to hear through their eyes. But for the people that don’t know me the work can be described as saturated colour values, clean lines, large format pieces with a definite tether to lowbrow art, skate, tattoo, and surf culture.
There is a very pure graphic element to the pieces. The work doesn’t have a lot of depth or intense emotional attachment, other than the emotional attachment I have to it. Besides the interpretation isn’t mine it’s theirs. Art is the way people feel when they experience it. I just bring it into existence, the viewers subscribe. I push the cap down, that pigment atomises, hits the surface and it’s not mine anymore.
Is there a common theme for the works that you’ll have?
The thread through the works is the cockroach. The maligned little creature that we recoil from. This perfectly evolved pest. It has been before us and will crawl through the ruins of our existence long after us. Yet we have created products to destroy them because we’re too lazy to clean our kitchen counters, so they thrive on our idleness. And that annoys us. Because they’re a symbol of our neglect.
When you look at a roach, which none of us ever really have, they dart from a shadow and that’s enough to warrant death. But if you really look, they have a beautifully simple and elegant symmetry. They’re simple survivors. That simplicity is attractive to me.
Have you had any challenges?
Time is a challenge. There’s an old saying in art – “art is never finished it’s only abandoned.” The exhibit has a date. A time in which the work is required to be static and complete. When you have an exhibition you’re condemning yourself to a terminal ending of that body of work. You have a tangible and definitive moment in which you have to abandon the work. The amount of things I want seen or experienced far out values the time I have to do it. I can’t seem to figure out a way in which to create more time, that’s a challenge. But I think that’s been a challenge since time began.
What excites you most about the show?
The completion. I can’t wait till it’s done. Not because it’s a negative emotion to the process, but rather as an affirmation of the process. A painting isn’t a painting until someone sees it and is moved one way or another. It might as well still exist in the mind if it isn’t experienced. I can’t wait for people to see the things I made. Not so much for the oooh’s and ahhhh’s, or even someone dropping some money on a piece so I can make more pieces. Don’t get me wrong those are nice things. I want the work to be seen so I know I made it. I also can’t wait for viewers to see how much time, energy and creativity I put into a creature that they see as a pest. I have taken something that people aim to kill and have magnified its beauty. Hopefully opening minds to other things we deem undesirable because of its apparent status in our society.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
So many and we aren’t even finished yet so who knows which new destiny-driven character steps into the story.
All the sponsors, Young Henry’s for the beer and beer mats, Jameson for the whiskey, Hannah club for the rum. Ironlak for the paint. All very important liquids.
Thankfully and gratefully Ironlak is a huge part. Every drop of pigment that comes out of whatever magical factory that you use to make the sauce. The pieces in the exhibition range from traditional huge canvases, to old surfed-out boards, creepy cockroach costumes, wood panel pineapples, through to a huge light-up two-metre tall cockroach brood mother – the masterpiece. And all the colour from one saucy source.
Definitely Freya, The Sam’s, Eddie’s crew and all the incredible people involved with the Pink Hotel. Including Wade and Joey for the filming in the secret room for the infestation.
Joe and Kareem for making videos that make me feel like an artist and less like a fraud.
Josh Armstrong, my comedy manager and also Mr Reality for some more outlandish shit I wanna do.
Damian and Sam (I know too many Sam’s) From X studios, Lucid and folklore in Brisbane. It’s the space where I’ve created all the art for the show, could not be more grateful for that space.
Most of all my wife Heidi. I won’t go on about her because I’d rather thank her to her face. But you know that woman keeps me alive.
And to the roaches.
Anything extra you’d like people to know?
Art is nothing without your presence.
I might be the next Banksy, Warhol, Dali, or Da Vinci. I might not be. It’s 50/50. But do you really want to take those odds? Come see the things I made.
Pest Control an exhibition by Dusty Rich opens to the public November 9th and 10th at The Pink Hotel Coolangatta
www.dustyrich.com for more
Thanks for the opportunity to write all this down it’s been good for the process.