This year’s Reykjavík Fringe Festival features a plethora of multi-media performances, but one of the most unusual will be a new mural painted by artist Angry Dan, known for his large-scale works depicting pitchy limericks and other clever wordplays. Over the festival, he’ll be working diligently on the new piece, which will say, “If change is all you require, dwell not on the present or prior, imagine a view where everything’s new, and make that your only desire.”
We sat down with the artist quick to ask a few questions about the mural and art in general.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Angry Dan! First off—can you tell us a little bit about the Reykjavík Fringe mural? How did you pick the prose and subject matter?
It’s inspired by Socrates, who said, “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new”. In real terms, totally ignoring the past to look only forwards feels like an extreme form of rationalism. I don’t think I could live my life entirely by this philosophy, but it’s definitely helped me to realise that my art could flourish if I made it my main focus.
I’m painting three murals for the Nordic Fringe, in Reykjavik, Stockholm and Gothenburg, all commissioned through Chats Palace Arts Centre in East London, which partners with Fringe every year. They’re all around the topic of mental health and self-improvement, which everyone has an increased awareness of now, especially following the pandemic. Once I’ve finished the murals, Chats Palace will be producing limited edition prints of the designs, which will be available to buy directly from them, and from the festivals.
What is it about the medium of limericks that attracts you?
When I was growing up, limericks were always silly, or rude, or both. I love silly, rude limericks, and, of course, I’ve written loads of them, but I feel like their rhythm and rhyme also give an air of serene charm to subjects of a more profound nature. This is why I try to write limericks about everything, from the personal to the informative to the entertaining.
How do you go about visually presenting something that relies on audible wordplay and spoken rhyme?
My formula is simple. I find a symbolic object to enhance the meaning of the poem, then I write the words on top. It helps if the object is roughly square or round, and symmetrical so the image feels balanced. If the limerick is amusing, I’ll paint it very colourfully with wonky letters. If the limerick is serious, I might use more considered colours with neater lettering. I always draw my words with the same black drop-shadow, which represents my voice.
Well, we’re very excited to see the finished project! Considering the subject matter, we’d like to conclude by asking about your pandemic experience in general. How did you spend your time?
My partner, Alice, is a nurse at a hospital in central London. Her job has been stressful, so we put loads of effort into making sure our home life was enjoyable. Like most artists with a solitary practice, I usually spend a lot of time alone, so being at home was fine. I had my first solo exhibition in Walthamstow in August last year, with 15 canvases in a window gallery and 9 murals in the surrounding area to make a treasure hunt, so I had plenty of work to do.
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