Psychedelic Art by sign artist El Oso Negro will be showing at the Grifter Brewery Pool Room May 6th – May 31st.
I sat down with El Oso Negro aka Bodie Jarman aka lead singer of one our favourite bands Los Tones over a couple of quiet ones on a Monday night in Marrickvillle. Here’s what I learnt.
Hey Bodie, how’s things? What are you doing?
Hey I’m doing well. Just drinking beers and painting some fancy things on glass. I had my first ever show in my hometown of Wollongong last month and am looking forward to my first Sydney show.
I saw some of your works already – how did you come about this type of glassy arty wizardry?
I started painting signs just over a year ago, something I’ve wanted to get into for years, and through that I learnt about gold gilding on glass. I researched how to do it for about 6 months, reading old books and trawling online. It’s a pretty old art. My works are all hand done, shying away from computers, stencils and tape.
It’s not your regular paper and paint situation is it? Want to talk through the process?
The designs are painted in reverse on the back of the glass in layers, which from the front looks super clean, no brush strokes. I use 1-shot sign painting enamels to paint the designs, and the glass I haven’t painted gets the gold leaf treatment – either 23-karat or 12-karat white gold – which comes out to a mirror or matte finish depending on how it’s adhered. The gold leaf comes in booklets and it’s a real bitch to keep it under control. It’s quite an involved process, and at each stage multiple things can make it look shitty – so it took a lot of trial and error till I got decent results.
Can you talk through the subject choices and art angle.
Well, gilding & glass sign painting has been around for centuries and I’m totally addicted to mid-century typography. I’m also really into 60s Psychedelia and wanted to have the two collide in a way that ticked all my boxes. Because the gold is so expensive, gilded signs were usually restricted to doctors surgeries, dentists, lawyers etc. I wanted to use these old techniques and bring in a more crass & druggy vibe. All the pieces in the exhibition are totally about that, magic mushrooms, psych lyrics and colourful letters, all paired with the gold, hence the title “Golden Caps”.
Since it’s such a detailed art and you are playing with gold were the first few attempts pretty hairy?
Yeah… the very first booklet of gold leaf I bought, I opened it up as I breathed and the leaf just floated into the air and disintegrated. Needless to say my garage is a gold tinged enclave these days. Im still learning to handle the gold properly, but the end results are worth all the frustration. I really enjoy the challenge of working without stencils and computers too, making it all with my hands.
Well enjoy the show – can we expect more of this style from you?
Sure can, I’m totally addicted to gold now – expensive taste!