Nassau-based artist Arjuna Watson, a.k.a. Decypul, answers this week’s 20 Questions from Guardian Arts&Culture.
1. What’s been your most inspirational moment in the last five years? The "She Loves Me" series.
2. What’s your least favorite piece of artwork? Damian Hirst’s "Dots”. When I was in NYC for a show, I was going for a wander around the SoHo area and came across the "Dots.” Honestly, it annoyed me to look at them and see the ridiculous prices on them; it annoyed me so much that I actually thought about using the dots to make me famous by urinating on them in the gallery. But then I thought about not being allowed back in the U.S. So, I walked away frustrated and not famous.
3. What’s your favorite period of art history? Social realism of the 1900s.
4. What are your top 5 movies of all time? Ciao Manhattan, Factory Girl, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds.
5. Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. Green tea all day.
6. What book are you reading now? I'm not reading anything at the moment. I'm just flicking through art books looking at paintings and technique. The last book I read was to my kids, The Lorax by Dr Seuss.
7. What project are you working on now? I'm painting for a show at the moment that is called "Catalyst”. It was going to be at the Central Bank next year but I've decided to move it to another location. I've decided that nothing is insignificant and there is a purpose for everything at any given moment in time and one leads to the next, and so on. So I'm looking back at things that I might have missed that would have lead me in another direction in art. For instance, I save my off cuts of canvas and I use them to clean my brushes and pallet knives on. I didn't really think much of the off cuts. I was painting and cleaning my brushes and I looked down and noticed how beautiful the chaos was of my work from cleaning my brushes and pallet knives, and then it started to form something. Now, that was one aspect of what I'm working on, and there are many aspects going on at the one time. I'm sorry to be cryptic but I don't like giving away what I’m working on until it's finished and hanging on a wall for a show.
8. What’s the last show that surprised you? I really liked "Tickle me Pink". Dylan and Dede's show at the Central Bank last year. I think that Dylan surprised me a lot with that (in a good way).
9. Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots? Valley beys...
10. If you had to be stranded on one Family Island which one would it be? That’s a tough one. I've been all over The Bahamas exploring but the first place that comes to my mind is ‘Briland (Harbour Island). I like the people and the vibe there. My favorite place to hang out there is The Landing because they have really good coffee, the food is awesome and the service is impeccable, and the wifi is as fast as the service. It feels like home when I go there.
11. What’s the most memorable artwork you’ve ever seen? I saw a few Cezannes at the Guggenheim in July this year. I'm sorry I don't know what the names of the paintings were. I was looking at the brush strokes and technique, use of color and how he saw light. I was in awe. Also, I saw a Keith Haring doodle in the Empire State Building that most people would have just glanced and never looked at. I guess that I look at many things and I'm inspired by everything I see around me. Names are not important to me; being able to absorb what I see is the most important to me.
12. Which artist do you have a secret crush on? Antonius Roberts (but he's such a player).
13. If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be? My kitten.
14. Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country’s history? (Sir Lynden) Pindling.
15. Who is your favorite living artist? Guy Denning.
16. Sunrise or Sunset? Both. I wake up to watch the sunrise and I watch for the green flash just about every night (side note: the green flash is not a myth. I have seen it over 30 times in the last few years).
17. What role does the artist have in society? I don't really feel like I'm in society enough to play a role but for me it’s about being on the outside looking in. So, I guess the main role is to provide a sort of social commentary.
18. What’s your most embarrassing moment? Well when I was a kid, my bother and I loved to swim and my mum signed us up to the local life saving club. Except she refused to buy my brother and I the orange Speedos (I do not know why). That's the color Speedos we had to have for life saving competitions. I was probably 8 years old, so when the competition time came around we would have to wear girls bathers rolled up to look like boys Speedos (supplied by the life saving club) and have to rock it. I can't believe she wouldn't buy me Speedos.
19. What wouldn’t you do without? My kids, my kitten, my eyesight, my freedom. Not having hands would suck too, and the list goes on. There are too many things I wouldn't do without, but really my needs are simple. I don't want for much and I live within my means.
20. What’s your definition of beauty? I don't really have a definition to be honest. When I look at an image I want to paint or that I am commissioned to paint, I'm really just looking at the light and the shadow that is cast from the light. A story to take apart and put back together. Beauty is a concept and it can be all smoke and mirrors. I sense for feeling and depth.
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