I interviewed Al whilst he was taking off his pants in the middle of the street, to change into shorts on a scorching day, behind his car. There is a certain type of freedom that emanates from him and his art practices.
What do you do?
I make shit up every day. And I believe in it completely. It’s not bound by anything. It has no parameters and shit is pretty much like that! My practice is loose… lucid. It’s a direction I am enjoying, it becomes looser every day.
What are the manifestations of your creations?
I can only speak for today. I love to paint, but I’m doing that tomorrow, so it doesn’t count. But I am so where I want to be and the parameters that existed yesterday are no longer there. That’s the truth. Today it was words and people.
How did you get you get to this point?
The writing got me here. The further I go, the further I’m able to let go of intentions.
In 1997 I left everything behind deliberately. I had a very successful business, I was a chalk artist, which was massive then. And I love my roots. I got to a point with my technical skills where I felt like I could do anything, that was the best apprenticeship in the world because I learnt so many things – life drawing, colour, architecture, scale, even the business side of things. The most important one was the confidence that built in me, that gave me the freedom and confidence to say, “I’m going to do something not for money, because the skill allowed me to go there.”
What are you working on at the moment?
I could give you a list. It’s so ridiculous.
But a few things in particular; in my writing, I’m actually working on a lucid narrative engine. Like a truth engine. It’s a philosophy-based work, but is absolutely human and real.
The point of all this writing is an exegesis experience, a personal scripture.
I had learnt how to paint and then I wanted to know ‘what am I going to do with all this power that I have in my hands.’ And then after all this writing, I’ve come back to the canvas and there were the same damn questions still there. “What am I going to paint.”
I now feel finally that I’m about to unleash, with that same uncensored fear that I’ve explored in my writing. I’ve been teaching myself not to fear, which was obviously stopping me from painting. It seemed to me like you had to try so hard to make it mean something. I grew up at the end of the 20th Century, where there had been a meticulous and comprehensive dialogue surrounding art, painting had been done to death. When you try to make something mean something, you can lose your personality and your authenticity to the dialogue itself. Which I think is the opposite to what you actually need to do. You just have to paint, because that’s when the magic happens – a transmutational thread.
What objects did you bring?
I brought my journal – which I’ve carried with me since 2000. I never sit down and write, it’s just with me and is absolutely uncensored. There is no fear and no expectation, so what comes is just pure hot inspiration, in the moment – anything that turns me on. If you do anything for long enough truth and symmetry will emerge and the work just grows. The journal has spilled over into numerous forms, it’s thousands of pages that have spilled over into my studio.
I also brought the old typewriter – which is really where it all began. When I was 7 I used to go into my grandmothers bedroom and write on this typewriter. I loved everything about it, the sound, the feel, the stories.
I brought my pens – I go through a lot of them. I love my tools.
What’s coming up for you?
I’m going back into the studio with nothing in the way. Like the very first painting in 1997, it’s so beautiful and free and uncensored. I’ve been trying to paint like that ever since.
I’ve been painting lately and I’ve gotta be honest, it’s orgasmic. No mind in the way.
I am a part of the Create or Die exhibition – Show me Someone Who Says it’s Easy. They say that success happens in clusters and there’s a whole group of us in this community just creating and supporting each other and having good times. It’s a recipe for fireworks!
What does create or die mean to you?
If I try to imagine what it would be like, not being this, not creating, not totally exploring what I might create in the world. I’m right up against myself. Being a creator. I’m rejecting everything else that I might rely on to give me the means to live materially, I’m abandoning that in order to create. I imagine what would happen if I wasn’t this. I actually couldn’t do it. I can’t not create. So I don’t know – I probably would be dead!