April Featured Art Joey DAMMIT! Catches Celebrities in Darkest Hour

What catches the eye most? Well, besides an image of the viewer himself (because let’s face it; if it’s about us then we want to know all about it), people are drawn to icons and celebrities – especially after they fall from grace. Love them, hate them; endorse them or revile them, celebrities turn heads.

Joey DAMMIT! uses mixed media in a collage-pop approach to his art. His love-hate relationship with mass media forged from a background in advertising allows him to draw out the layers of genius that made us fall in love with icons from beneath layers of self-loathing, neglect, abuse, and overindulgence. In 2009, this premier Canadian pop artist unleashed his “a visual obituary, all in spectacular pop-technicolor” at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, appropriately enough from “Valentine’s Day” on February 14 through the 26th.

DAMMIT!’s obsession with the darker side of cult celebrity as seen in the show titled, “Don’t Fear the Reaper Or: How Icons Met Their Maker” was inspired by the Stanley Kubrick film, “Dr. Stranglove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” but his work extended to a point of premonition when he decided to sketch Amy Winehouse’s demise before the event. From pioneers of all sides of art from Jackson Pollock to authors Virginia Woolf who walked out into the waves to Hunter S. Thompson who shot himself and asked to have his ashes shot out of a canon to music legends John Lennon and The Beatles to Sid and Nancy, “the IT couple” and into the barrel of Kurt Cobain’s shotgun. DAMMIT! also forays into the film world capturing Marilyn Monroe sandwiched between Kennedy brothers, James Dean, and Heath Ledger. The “Superman curse” and Princess Di’s demise are etched into artwork as well.

The expressive nature of these celebrities as seen through the eyes of death himself is what makes Joey DAMMIT!’s work so enrapturing – like watching a car crash unfold when the driver knows he just pull off the highway to avoid getting involved. Perhaps, that is what these celebrities represent to the masses. We live vicariously through their antics, their self-loathing with all the catharsis brought by the music, film, and writing, but without the chaos fame brings. We escape the death, but we watch with judgmental eyes asking how could so-and-so do that to himself.

Ellen Eldridge

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