“Collagist Mixes A Mean Pallette.”
First the name—he was known as Joseph Alberto Defreitas until the day he autographed a college assignment “designed by Joey, dammit!” and the public persona of Joey DAMMIT! was born.
DAMMIT! is as well known for his opening-night parties as for his edgy, darkly funny collages and paintings-and it’s a formula that works. DAMMIT! has been voted Now magazine’s most popular artist two years running. His most recent show at the Anoush Gallery with photographer Laurence Laberge (a.k.a. Jellybean) pushed things even further. The night included a dominatrix at the door and a burlesque show at midnight. Titled Circus Sexus Maximus, the show was about “the media perception of sex, which has nothing to do with real life,” DAMMIT! says. “It’s sex as vaudeville.
DAMMIT! studied graphic design at Humber College, but he lasted only three months in a design job before quitting out of boredom and frustration. For Christmas 1993, he was given the Griffin & Sabine trilogy by Nick Bantock. “It was a revelation,” he says. Collage has marked his work ever since.
His art reflects his conversation, which always covers the same themes: media, sex and religion. His family came to Canada from Maidera, Portugal, when DAMMIT! was four, and his parents still have a difficult time accepting his art. Appropriately enough, the media may bring them around: “They see me on TV and start to think I’m not wasting my life.”
DAMMIT! is now working on a line of rather disturbing greeting cards and a Bantock-like book about one man’s obsession with Winona Ryder. “I once read that the meaning of life is to do something you love so much that you’d do it for free, but get paid handsomely for it. I’m not there yet, but I do love it. Watching a blank canvas fill up is the most thrilling thing in the world.” (Erin Curtin)