When artist Joey DAMMIT! was a little boy he wanted to be Darren Stephens. How else could he be married to Bewitched’s sexy Samantha? This obsession with pop culture has manifested itself over the years, culminating in an artist whose work screams contemporary scene. A walk through DAMMIT’s studio and you’re greeted with a floor-to-ceiling wall of videos, a mountain of music, heaps of books and, of course, assaulted by a myriad of multi-coloured, multi-media works of art currently under way.
DAMMIT!’s got more energy than a nuclear reactor, and the intensity of his artwork reflects the cultural overload of the landscape we live in. Only DAMMIT!’s able to take the cacophony of sound, image and information and translate it all into brilliant, frequently funny, occasionally frightening and always fascinating works of contemporary art.
The Toronto artist has made his name in collage. A particularly arresting piece entitled “All Good Catholic Boys Wake Up Screaming” focuses on the central figure of the Virgin Mary. Surrounding Mary are shellacked shreds of newspaper articles, a manipulated photo of Samuel Beckett, bits of actual crosses and plastic babies, and even some scrawled poetry of W.B. Yeats.
This isn’t art for the weak. It’s loaded with literary, religious and contemporary iconography. It insists that you shift between centuries. This is work that demands your full attention and interactivity. DAMMIT! sees the role of the artist in much the same way he pursues his work. To DAMMIT!, art isn’t solely about painting. It’s about consistently creating and maintaining a major buzz. On the morning of a show, he’s up at 5 a.m., papering the city with posters. He vigilantly sends out packages to press promoting his past work and upcoming exhibits. This guy is an indefatigable, one-man hype machine. The dynamic Joey Dammit is most definitely a Canadian artist to watch. (Cathleen Bond)