Artist and designer Stanley Donwood’s latest show is currently on display at Subliminal Projects in Los Angeles, entitled “Lost Angeles”.
The main piece of work in the show is an 18-foot panoramic piece depicting the City of Angels being destroyed by fire, flood and meteor storm in an apocalyptic illustration. The current show is a follow up to his 2006 London Views collection, which depicted London in the throes of being consumed by fire and flood.
He says of his inspiration behind the show “There is no future. We have evicted ourselves from our own cities, rendered our agriculture poisonous, criminalized the poor, aggrandized the rich, honored the stupid and ridiculed the intelligent…I have no solutions, no wisdom to offer…Whilst Rome burns, I take up my little chisel and I carve a panoramic apocalypse of my own…and if you want to see it, you’re more than welcome.” (via The Citrus Report).
Donwood is perhaps best known for his work with the globally successful British band Radiohead, and is often considered the sixth member of the band. According to LA weekly, Donwood, who has been responsible for all of the band’s artwork for nearly 20 years, is happy with the term “commercial artist”, saying that, in his opinion “It’s better than graphic designer”.
His collaboration with Radiohead began on their first hit record, The Bends, and has continued throughout their career. The 44 year old, who hails from Essex in the UK, was a close friend of Thom Yorke from their college days. He was inspired to create album artwork by the punk bands of his teens, such as Dead Kennedys and Crass. He says, “The record store was like the most democratic art gallery there was”. “There was all this artwork and it was all treated the same.” (via LA Weekly).
In the two decades since his work with Radiohead began, Donwood’s design style has evolved and adapted as has the musical expression of the band themselves. For In Rainbows, released in 2007 he worked in an abstract style, creating a psychedelic, brightly colored landscape using candle wax and hypodermic needles, a step away from the photographic manipulation of his original artwork for The Bends. He says of his transition artistically, “Every cell in my body has replaced itself now. I’m not just this furious, angry person anymore,” (via LA Weekly)
Donwood prefers his most recent work for the band, in particular the artwork he created for The King of Limbs deluxe edition; the artist created several sheets of large artwork and 625 pieces of much smaller artwork, alongside a newspaper containing his own abstract writing. Vinyl packaging and the release of deluxe editions of albums have allowed Donwood a great deal of freedom with his packaging designs, a rarity in the digital age of music. He now works in a studio adjacent to the band as they develop material, allowing his designs and creations to develop alongside the music.
Despite the apocalyptic nature of “Lost Angeles” Donwood holds a high opinion of the city, notably the presence of street art on every corner and the Victorian architecture on Carroll Street, depicted in the new panoramic landscape. The 18 foot artwork also features other landmarks such as the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, LAX, the Hollywood Sign and the downtown skyline, nestled within a specially designed concave for the linocut. It was was created by carving into 18 separate panels of linoleum before being hand burnished onto Japanese Kozo paper.
Lost Angeles will be on display at Subliminal Projects until May 26, and the gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.