Hailed as the artist that inspired Dismaland, Jeff Gillette’s work may be familiar since Banksy brought it to our attention last year. While his work was included as part of the first-of-its-kind bemusement park, the installations all shared a common theme that echoed the artist’s signature subversion of Disney and its characters.
Featuring 15 paintings, this latest body of work is a continuation of the post-apocalyptic scenes he’s been creating for over 20 years. This time, however, Jeff has turned the tables on Banksy, with many scenes in his new work inspired by Dismaland.
Entitled Dismaland Calais, the series is based on Banksy’s digital realisation of the Dismaland Castle, reimagined within the Calais refugee camp. In the painting Jeff adds his own surprises, Dismaland detritus scattered about amongst the ramshackle tents, tear gas canisters rolling in the background, and the occasional Dismaland employee wandering in the ‘jungle camp’.
The castle’s entryway is emblazoned with the initial ‘B’ instead of ‘D’ and is surrounded by an infestation of Banksy’s ‘Minnie-Rats’. Other works show a huge landfill with a broken down London Eye, London in need of ‘Dismal-Aid’, Mickey Mouse living in a slum and Minnie Mouse on a billboard hovering over a post-nuclear Hiroshima wasteland.
He explains: “In my late twenties I ended up joining the Peace Corps in Nepal. I was there for two years in an isolated environment where I had too much time to read heavy books and think. I discovered the views of the ultimate pessimist: German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, and found solace in his ideas about suffering and art. From here the idea of taking the things people love and imposing the worst-case scenario was born. My work is basically the visual soundtrack to his ideas with an injection of humour.”
Now you can see the artworks for yourself at Jeff's first UK solo show, taking place from Friday 24th June to Saturday 23rd July at Lawrence Alkin Gallery in London.