Until recently I was unfamiliar with Chilean art, but there are two striking examples that have piqued my curiosity. The first is the film Trauma* (2017), a gut-wrenching settlement with the traumas after the Pinochet regime, and the second is the work of the independent artist Cristóbal López, working under the moniker Kerb Crawler** (aka. Kerb Crawler Ghost), who is is a representative of the incendiary Dark Art movement.
Before we take a closer look at the wicked illustrations of this Chilean whiz, first a short introduction to Dark Art. Dark Art is closely related to protest art that seeks controversy (often against religious authorities) and has a long tradition dating back to the 15th century to influential artists like Hans Memling (Fig.1), Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The artists working in this genre convey their thoughts in an enigmatic way, and often include surrealist components. They use horrible and macabre imagery in an attempt to understand more deeply human nature and evoke a reaction in the viewer. As the collective name suggests, black is often the predominant color.
Kerb Crawler’s impressively perversive artwork, consisting of meticulously detailed ink illustrations, takes the viewer to a decadent universe that is filled with rebellious nuns, monstrous goats and other terrifying representatives of the underworld that disturb you in a thought-provoking way.
Bosch and Rops
His influences range from Renaissance masters from Leonardo da Vinci to Bosch, the Romantics like Gustave Doré (Fig.2) or Luis Fernando Falero, others like Goya, Velazquez, Balthus, Kittelsen, Martin van Maële, and Félicien Rops. Other inspirations are tarot cards, 19th century medical illustrations, comic book art (except superheroes) and Freud’s psychoanalysis.
Concept of Darkness
To Kerb Crawler, the concept of darkness in Art is connected with the subconscious, all the fictional secrets in our minds, desires, and impulses out of our control that we can’t handle, because they are repressed by morality and social order. In an earlier interview he explains, ‘Personally, I think the role of dark artists is to unlock those deep, dark, occult desires within the depths of their viewer. I don’t know if I’m doing it right or if there is a real way to achieve that. I think it all depends on who the viewer is because the imagery is so subjective.’
Now, let’s descent into darkness…
A lot of Kerb Crawler’s merchandise (Limited edition prints, a book and t-shirts) have been sold out but you can check it out on the following page…!!
*Trauma is a film from 2017 directed by Lucio A. Rojas. A group of women visit a rural area in Chile. However, they are brutally attacked by a man and his son. The friends go looking for help in a village. With the help of some police officers, the friends decide to confront the two men. The opening sequence is easily one of the most depraved ever been put to film and involves a mother and a son. The film is mainly available in heavily censored editions. An uncensored version is issued by Artsploitation.
**A kerb crawler is a person who drives around areas known for street prostitution soliciting prostitutes for sexual activity. The act is known as “kerb crawling” because the person will typically drive very slowly along the kerbside. (Source: educalingo.com/)
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