Rugged art you can walk on
PUBLISHED: 09:56 23 September 2011
Mark Mothersbaugh is best known as the co-founding member of the innovative post-punk band Devo and laterally as a composer who has worked on a number of children’s TV shows. However for as long as he has been a musician he has also been a visual artist too, creating work in many forms for more than three decades.
Through Devo, he as long showcased his artistic abilities through their films, videos, costumes, album covers, stage shows, and printed materials.
His love of visual art began in childhood, just after it was discovered that he was extremely nearsighted and legally blind. His first glasses offered the young Mothersbaugh a new view of the world, fuelling a lifelong infatuation with imagery and illustrations.
Next week, to coincide with Norwich Sound & Vision, Norwich Arts Centre is hosting the UK premiere of one of his more unusual artistic sidelines — rugs.
Rugs may not be a medium that could be described as the cutting edge — indeed the art world could be said to walk over them, literally — however Mothersbaugh’s limited edition art rugs take his trademark themes human devolution and macabre humour and runs with it.
The free exhibition, which begins tomorrow but is launched properly on September 29 with a live online chat with the artist himself, is certainly eye-catching with — and best of all the rugs are on sale.
“They’ll cover a hole on the floor; you can sweep things beneath them,” is the artist’s unusual sales pitch. “You don’t have to feel reverential about the artwork. You can walk on it. You can do your prayers on it if that’s your predilection. And there are many ways to get rug burn on it.”
Mark’s recent visual artwork has been largely inspired by his 30-year habit of creating handmade postcards to send to friends from various stops on Devo tours.
This obsession has evolved into a visual diary that currently yields up to 25 new images a day. These images have served as the basis for the artist’s critically acclaimed solo shows as well as for his “gallery tours” he has staged at art venues throughout the world since 2003.
His love of rugs began when he made one for the entry into his recording studio. He liked it so much that he de-cided to experiment more and he has now been making them since 2002.
“Rugs were sort of an accidental thing,” he has previously explained. “I had a building on Sunset Strip in Hollywood about 14 years ago. I wanted to put a rug on the concrete entrance to the building so people wouldn’t slide when it got wet. I had designed a logo for my business, and I found a company that could put logos on rugs. I’d walked across it every day for about seven years before I wondered if they could put other images on rugs.”
He found a company that could produce rugs to order. “They can only do certain resolutions, so they had to be pretty simple graphic images, which kind of worked for me. I do line drawings and cartoony stuff. With a little back and forth, we started working with this company. It said yes, but stay away from football season: “That’s when we make football rugs for people.”
■ Mark Mothersbaugh: Rugs! Rugs! Rugs! is at Norwich Arts centre from September 24-October 29, Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, admission free, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk
■ A free launch event takes place on September 29 (5pm-8pm) and will include a live web chat with Mark Mothersbaugh at 7pm.