There are artists who paint pictures of motorcycles, and there are a few bikers that happen to be artists. George Frizzell fits into that latter category. The man's roots lie in an outlaw culture that doesn't have much place in wine tasting parties at fine art galleries, and his art has a very raw edge that's not far at all from those roots. This is the underbelly baby, and no apologies are made for it.
It's been said that real art is driven by hunger. It's also been said that hunger makes you mean, and I've long suspected that there's some kind of unholy trinity in there that separates the shit I like from the shit that the "art world" tells me I should like. The real world has little to do with the ivory towers of Art History and the real world is what contemporary art should be about.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you hang your hat and where you work?
Right now I live in a 20’ 1973 Winnebago on the edge of the Rim in Payson Arizona. It’s a small house with a great view.
Yea, and the working thing? Welp…I really don’t work. I’m basically just a bum with a bike and a couple of paintbrushes.
You've written a column for The Horse/ Back Street Choppers for a while, and now you've compiled that into a book. How did that get started?
The writing is a fluke; I have no idea what happened to make that come about. I think it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. People seemed to be following my shit pretty regularly so I rewrote all the articles, put the swears back in and published it. Folks seem to be really like them in book form so I guess it was a good idea. Who’d have thunk it?
How did you get into painting, and how does that process relate to your writing? Or was it the other way around?
Neither affects the other, they are two completely different animals. I paint because I love it and always have , it was a pivotal moment when I was in art school and realized I loved creating art no matter how much people turned their nose up to it. Before that I was just there for the pussy.
The writing…well…I get paid to swear and act like an idiot. Pretty good gig really.
"Kickin’ stones around in the moonlight I build small temples to insignificant Gods for no other’s pleasure but my own. Fuckin’ tweeker…but no Meth involved.
The high desert, although I am not completely off the grid yet, is an environment that will either make or break you. You’re goin’ to lose your mother fuckin’ mind or you won’t if you just do things that make you look like you have. I have gone the latter…I hope." -GTP, 2010
Your brother's an artist as well, is this something that runs in the family?
That or someone just pissed in our gene pool. We don’t really get to hang out much and that’s good because when we do it just becomes one big chaotic, creative mess and nobody wants to clean that up. In all honesty I think my brother Jim who signs his work “King Shit” is a much better artist than me but I’ll be fucked with a frying pan before I ever admit it.
In these days of digital everything it sometimes feels like traditional arts- i.e., paint on canvas- is way under-appreciated. Coming from an old school background, what kind of effect do you think the "digital revolution" has had on artists in general ?
People will give me shit about this but if you can’t hold it in your hand it ain’t art, it doesn’t have that sense of permanence other mediums have. This doesn’t include music of course but if that is your point of argument you just want to argue. To me art is something that should be tangible, something you have to move when it’s in your way, something that won’t be affected by some random EMP. Also there is the lack of the ‘artist’s hand’. With the digital stuff there is a disconnection that can never be replaced or faked.
"People look at paintings and shit and just see it as a picture, they ain't, not to the fuckers that paint 'em and the stoners that stare at 'em. To me they ain't a picture, the overall image is cool but it's the work in different little areas that you can really just lose yourself in. Man it's a gas, faces become choppy little blotches of high chroma larva and the hands in the shadows become supernovas." -GTP, 2013
Bikes and women are central themes in your work, unarguably great subject matter. What was your first motorcycle and what are you riding today?
A ’79 Harley FLH was my first bike; it’s also the one I ride currently. I’ve been riding that piece of shit for over 30 years now. It’s got some mileage on it that’s for sure.
What is your creative process like?
The best description would be the simplest. When I initially start a project I just have a rough idea of some stupid concept. I then gather up some props and a willing model and everything changes. Once the camera comes out for my reference shots any previous ideas go right down the shitter and it’s all fluid from there. Once the paint stops flyin’ it is usually waaay left of the idea I started with. Painting in oils is tricky or at least used to be. Now I hardly use anything else. Want to be a good painter…paint a lot…put in your time in Hell.
I have no idea…I just paint; I haven’t paid much attention to the ‘art world’ in years. I am starting to dip my toe back into that scene I guess it would be nice to know other artists…maybe it won’t. I can probably answer that question in a few months without sounding like a complete tool.
How would you describe your painting style, is there a particular "school" of art (i.e. surrealism) that fits your stuff or is it just off on its own trip?
Depressing, immoral, realistic impressionist, don’t eat the brown acid, trip down Malady Lane.
"The stories and excitement of your rebellious youth become the things you share with your friends around the campfire and make you cringe when you think of doin’ them again. I have a lot of great stories that I am really glad I’ve been able to collect. If I hadn’t done them would I want to do any of them now, some yes, but the really interesting ones I probably wouldn’t want to even toy with the idea now that I have gained even a limited amount of wisdom." -GTP
It's not just about the art either; you're living the "biker lifestyle" in a pretty definitive way. How do you think that's changed in the USA over the last few decades?
What('s) the “biker lifestyle’? Shit man comparing what it is now to what it was then is like comparing oranges with that huge space between Oprah Winfreys eyes. The biker thing was like that back then and is now something completely different. It used to piss me off to no end those lame fucks on those stupid big money choppers but I’m getting over it. Those fucktards are all but gone now and the ones that are still riding I have to accept into this mess because they’ve probably paid their dues by now more or less. Than you have your chopper ridin’ skater dudes choppin’ anything they can get their hands on, ridin’ around just pissin’ everybody off like they are supposed to. They might not be starting a revolution but they are sure as fuck rebelling their asses off and THAT is what it is all about.
What are you working on now and what are your upcoming plans?
I’m focusing more on the artistic side of my life. I have a lot I want to paint and I ain’t getting any younger so I better get to it. So I’m painting a series of ten new originals by the end of the summer. Ten images that are completely my own. Just paint what I want and not have to worry about selling them to pay rent. I am currently in a position to do that at the moment so there ain’t no fuckin’ time like the present. I might drop dead next week so I better get on it.
Copies of George the Painter - A Bathroom Reader along with original paintings, prints and more are available at George Frizzell's website, americanmotherfucker.com
Read more at:
americanmotherfucker.com - GTP Official Website