The Performance Artist Merging Shakespeare with Sadomasochism

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Paul Kindersley, Fake Fairy Fantasies, 2018Courtesy of Belmacz

Tonight, Paul Kindersley’s solo show – Fake Fairy Fantasies – opens at Belmacz Gallery in Mayfair

Judging by Paul Kindersley’s high-spirited demeanor, his fascination for the crudest facets of both art history and human behaviour is somewhat of a surprise. With subtle exuberance and disarming humour, the British artist proudly embraces perversion in all its repellent glory. From Pier Paolo Pasolini’s famously disturbing 1975 masterpiece Salò to the explicit and often violent performances of the radical 20th-century artists known as the Vienna Actionists, the exploration of the human psyche through art, Kindersley argues, shouldn’t be sanitised to fit our narrow social understanding of beauty. “There are a lot of things that can be beautiful and horrible at the same time,” he tells AnOther. “But we tend to get stuck in these binaries, where everything needs to be categorised as neatly as possible.”


Kindersley is a man of contrasts, an individual whose presence, practice and persona are as puzzling as they are entertaining. His latest solo show, Fake Fairy Fantasies, held at London’s Belmacz Gallery, charmingly exemplifies this very duality. Inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the one-week performative exhibition showcases a non-linear play coupled with ad-hoc happenings acted out in the midst of the artist’s painted wall hangings – transforming the gallery space into a theatrical reverie where fairies, fawns, and other beings skirt the threshold between the familiar and the fantastical, the acceptable and the indecent.

“My biggest source of inspiration is my own experience as an audience member and in my work I try to recreate that sense of immediacy,” the image-maker explains. “I love responses and ideas that haven’t been overly processed.” Kindersley’s vast paintings evoke the fairy as a metamorphic revenant of art, literature and folklore which offers respite from the boredom of the everyday. An adult fascination as much as a childhood fiction, the painted friezes allude to the make-believe of ‘adult baby’ fetishes, with his stark linear style reminiscent of the erotic cartoons of Jean Cocteau.

“I’m really interested in all the extreme ways that people try to escape and switch off, all these elements linked to the body that we perceive as taboo, but ultimately they all take us back to our primal nature,” Kindersley continues. “Acting like a baby, pissing, shitting; a lot of fetishes boil down to our relationship with our most basic bodily functions. It’s quite a Surrealist and a Dada thing to bring this repressed relationship back to the surface.” Indeed, the radical Dadaist defiance of convention and coherence is as visible in Kindersley’s work as one might expect. The play, both unrehearsed and mostly performed by non-actors, features characters such as ‘the Shit’ and ‘the Baby’, who in spite of appearances are all but foolish props for a gratuitous storyline. “In Shakespeare’s play, the character of Bottom is a bit of a joke, he doesn’t understand anything, so I thought it would be quite funny to create the character of a shit that actually understood the world really well,” the visual artist humourously asserts. “After all, he’s traveled through the entire human body, so he should know more about humans than anyone else.”

A Warholian character with a penchant for wildly unfiltered satire, Kindersley creates a world where art and life are inextricably linked. His whimsical directness is echoed by every step of his creative process. “We’re constantly overthinking and over-analysing everything because of all the unnecessary amounts of choice taking over our lives,” the artist concludes. “I try to cut out the overthought process – the fabrics I use, for example, are taken from the bins at Saint Martins, or from random car boot sales. There’s something quite liberating in knowing that you only have one shot at something. That’s essentially what I tend to live my life by.”

Fake Fairytales runs at Belmacz Gallery, London from June 22 to 28, 2018.