In Conversation with the Provocative Chilean Artist KerbCrawlerGhost
Dark, foreboding… and stunningly beautiful like the work of 1800's Belgian artist, Félicien Rops. This is how the American fetish photographer Eric Kroll describes the art of the Chilean dark artist KerbCrawlerGhost (real name Cristóbal López) in the introduction of his first book Drawn Into Darkness.
Fig.1. The artist signing his book Drawn Into Darkness (Source: cthulhic_cowboy on metal-archives.com/)
In his mainly black and white ink illustrations that are rooted in Dark Romanticism*, KerbCrawlerGhost offers us a depraved universe in which he explores his (and our) dark fantasies. His work has evolved in recent years, he digs deeper and deeper into his own being to realize these visions. It has become more than just his own exorcism or the search for a personal mystique.
The original angles, his amazing drawing skills and ability to shock made me an instant fan. I got curious about this artist and his view on art, contacted him and suggested to do an interview.
Due to circumstances (including the artist's busy schedule and the production and publication of his new book Nigrum (Black)) it took about a year, but earlier this week I received his answers that are very worthwhile and give a nice picture of what makes him tick. Here's our conversation...
1) What can you tell about your background (education, family...etc.) ?
KerbCrawlerGhost: Well, I belong to a family that always had a passion for art, my brothers are artists too, and my parents encouraged us a lot in childhood to express ourselves through art. I was also educated in an artistic school, I learned to appreciate art and to live it before I was aware of many other things, of course in my country there is no great artistic tradition, there are no museums with important works, and well today art in my country it seems to be a very small niche, for wealthy people, and they use it more for marketing. So, it's weird my background, it was basically pure stimulation.
Fig.2. Watercolor (c.2011) before KerbCrawlerGhost
My fascination was pop art, comics, cartoon animations, cinema magazines... it was what I planned to do when I grew up, I knew I would be an artist at a very early age. At school the only thing I did was draw in each class, the content didn't matter, I drew in all my notebooks, and I always socially integrated into different groups through drawing, making cartoons or erotic drawings. The latter were highly appreciated by my colleagues in a pre-internet era, which is why each pornographic magazine that came into my hands after giving it the corresponding use became anatomical study material. So going back to the topic... I wasn't a good student, but I was a good classmate.
Fig.3. 'Hold the Cum ' (2022)
After school, from which I graduated without many honors... I entered to do a bachelor's degree in arts at the university, not because I had doubts about my trades, I did it because I wanted to enter the university based on artistic merits and not because I qualified with my student score (which was pretty mediocre).
My two brothers had graduated from the same university before me, and when I entered I already had a lineage and a record, and these were good years. I really exploited my talent to the fullest, winning state projects to finance my works and exposing in the most important places at the age of 20. I had my 15 minutes of fame, but I was not able to finish because two years after I started, I became the father of my first child and I left my degree to work.
Fig.4. 'Monster Kiss' (2022)
After that there is a big black lagoon of earning a living working in film and advertising as a cartoonist, creative, designer, art director and everything that could give me some money. I was a cog in the poor Chilean advertising industry and I did nothing but accumulate frustrations and disastrous vices. I became a wretch in a process of more or less 15 to 16 years... product of that decade and a half of systematic poisoning I collapsed, and I was hospitalized for a severe respiratory illness.
After one month being connected to an oxygen tank, in a public hospital in the winter of 2015, I swore revenge against the entire industry, and society and promised that if I left that hospital alive, it would be to time to recover and transform myself into the artist I was meant to be from the start.. That's when Kerbcrawlerghost was born… The rest of the story you already know.
Fig.5. Cover art for a German Blu-ray/DVD edition of the Chilean film Trauma (2017)
2) In our earlier article on you, I was embarrassed to admit that I know of no other Chilean art outside of the movie Trauma (Lucio A Rojas -2017, Fig.5) and your art. Both are characterized by dark, subversive themes. Is this extreme aesthetic common in contemporary Chilean art?
KCG: You don't have to be ashamed, I don't know anything about the Chilean art scene either, I know a handful of good Chilean artists, many of them have left, but the truth is that nothing relevant is happening, because art is not part of the Chilean culture today, if there is a common aesthetic, it is over handled and repeated ad nauseam, the military coup and the murderous dictatorship our culture, almost everything that is produced here is related to that trauma, basically because everything It remained in impunity and the only legacy of all this massacre was the neoliberalism, drug trafficking and consumerist individualism of this era. There are a couple of artists who deserve all my respect, film directors and animators, the creators of the short film “La Casa Lobo”, they are the most interesting thing that has come out of here in decades…. And I don't even know what they're called.
3) Somewhere I read about your fascination for the subconscious. You share this with the representatives of the Dark Romanticism. Do you feel a strong connection with this movement? And if so, why?
KCG: Oh yes, I have some vague knowledge of psychoanalysis, something I learned in high school and it helped me a lot in my university days, everything related to language, symbolism and the unconscious is what I like to address in my work in one way or another. , because it involves eroticism and sexuality as a fundamental pillar of our identity as subjects, our desire is buried in the unconscious and manifests itself in unusual ways through the word, the thought, even the physical symptom... all due to the fact that we are not able to verbalize it... ah, it's beautiful,
Fig.6. 'Peeing in the river ' (2021). Unfinished sketch for the Ominous Tarot series
I like that there is that constant internal struggle in people, a struggle that most of us are unaware of but is common to all, just as it is common to be modified by the social norms that allow us to live in community under the umbrella of a common morality, what I fantasize about in my art is to open that hidden door and let all those nameless things out so they can possess for a second to the people who appreciate my art, like putting a mirror in front of them.
I love romanticism, and it is very influential in my work, but so is the art of the symbolists... I see myself more represented by that darkness than by that of the romantics, who in my opinion have a very refined aesthetic.
Fig.7. 'The Hunt ' (2022)
4) What attracts you to provocation? Do you think art has to be provocative?
KCG: In Chile there is a term that I love that goes like: “Shaking someone’s cage”, what I like is Shaking the cage to the spectators, stress them out, because I assume that we are all in a cage, the cage of the ego, the cage of the body, the cage of the preconceived ideas, the cage of religious beliefs, the cage of sexual preferences and so on... so what I intend with my art is to provoke, to make you feel, it is like giving a pinch to make you react to something that is there in front of you and perhaps I was there inside you and you didn't lick until you saw my work...
Art has to be provocative, in some way... there are many types of art, with different purposes... but it is always good that no matter how pleasing a work may be, there has to be a subtext, a crack, some line against the grain, that opens the narrative where we don't want to go. What good is art if it does not provoke, if it does not awaken thought...
Fig.8. 'Osculum Makabra '
Fig.9. 'Seducing the Goat ' (2021)
5) Your art represents almost the ultimate expression for the increasing representatives of the politically correct environment to take offense of. Is it difficult for you to promote your art?
KCG: The truth is that my art does not have a proper place, for a moment Tumblr was the perfect social network, today I do not know where it belongs… and it is very difficult to promote it, I have been banned in all the domains of Zuckerberg, Google and more. At some point I tried to open a page on Pornhub, but the truth is that people don't visit that page for something beyond porn and you can't compete with Valentina Nappi content, not in her arena...
Fig.10. 'Bagirl '
6) What is the background behind your moniker KerbCrawlerGhost?
KCG: That's a pretty boring story. When I started uploading my drawings to instagram at first I had accounts that were variants of my name, but as they were removed I became more and more abstract since the name that occurred to me was already taken, so the concept "kerb Crawler" It seemed funny to me, it is said of those who discreetly drive slowly along the sidewalk to look for prostitutes on the corners, but the name was already taken... so I added the Ghost, and then it had so many letters that it looked like a German word or name, but it didn't matter to me anymore... and well, what happened with That name, was that my account became very well known reaching 100,000 followers, but once it was again deleted everyone knew me by that name, so I kept it.
Fig.11. 'CorpseTits Art Tribute ' (2016)
Fig.12. First (untitled) drawing of 2023 (4 Jan 2023)
7) Which artists have had the most influence on you?
KCG: Bosch, Dürer, Goya, Schiele, Rops, Maele, Balthus, Bacon, Giger, Moebius, Manara, Crumb, Kippenberger and an endless list... because when I refer to Bosch, I also mean Brueghel, David Teniers and all those who continued with their influence and expanded that iconography... then from each one of my favorite artists derives a dozen other artists that I also appreciate and consume on a regular basis. The influences rotate, they are almost always the same, but sometimes I have one or another artist fixed in my head and I consult him to do my work...
Fig.13. 'Nun ' (2022)
Fig.14. 'Can't Sleep ' (2022)
8) Are you familiar with shunga art? If so, what do you think about this art form?
KCG: I am not an expert on the subject, but it is easy to recognize and it always fascinates me. In general I adore Japanese graphics in all its forms. They are the masters of line and synthesis. It is a very well composed art but at the same time very expressive... the best of two worlds. But let's talk about Shunga... I think the fundamentals consists of two things, exposing penetration in an exaggerated way, there is a kind of magnifying glass in all genital action. We know that Orientals are not particularly massive in this area, therefore it is understood that the Shunga imagery is in charge of putting an accent or the magnifying glass on what matters to us. But nothing is left to chance, you always have to observe the environment. If there is a bottle of sake in the room, a fan or we see through the door that the gardens have cherry blossoms, everything we see indicates something in the scene, something that adds to the story,. If it is a concubine, a virginal young woman, if it is a samurai, an emperor or a simple peasant. All these are elements that tell us something about sexuality in Japanese society. Details should never be neglected, because it is a very illustrative, narrative art form. It can tell a mythical story or a domestic event, a rape, sex for power, for money, for desire, forbidden sex or simply fantasy.
Fig.15. 'Final Act ' (2022)
Fig.16. 'Cum To the Light ' (20 Apr 2022)
The other thing that I find fascinating are Japanese perversions and fetishes. Bondage is an art that they have mastered for millennia. They know how to tie a young woman to submit her to various pleasures, torture, stress, sodomy and everything that the obsessed has available. Masculine pleasure, roles and hierarchies seem very important in the sexuality that is exposed in Shunga. I love the symbolic relationship that their folklore has with sex,. The mythological and demonic creatures, animals and all beings that can have a sexual character, and the female is always an inexhaustible source of pleasures from tender to violent. The sexuality of the Japanese is so elaborate and fetishistic that, in my opinion, they make a true erotic avant-garde, they make the best porn in the world, the most extreme, the most perverse and the most creative.
Fig.17. 'Collectors ' (2021)
Fig.18. Sketch for the Ominous Tarot, “the pope, the hierophant, le pape” card number V
9) What contemporary artist(s) do you admire?
KCG: Oh, the list is endless... I admire and am inspired by many contemporary artists, comic artists, painters, sculptors, filmmakers... but if we go to what influences me the most, I would like to name a couple that have disappeared or been left behind the Iron Curtain... I adore many Russian artists, among them Vania Zouravilov and Uno Moralez... I think they need recognition, they are excellent artists, very creative and with great technique... They have a great influence on me and I regret that they have been lifted this stupid blockade that makes them invisible in the west, here they only victimize artists from Ukraine, Russian artists are better and are also victims of this conflict in my opinion.
Fig.19. 'Gone ' (2017)
Fig.20. 'Blind Date ' (2017)
10) What can you tell about your earlier work as an advertising illustrator and animator?
KCG: Not much, as an advertising illustrator I hated and still hate everything I did, 15 years of drawings that belong in the trash, there is nothing to show... a total waste. As an animator I have done some things that I’m proud of, I love animating but it's too slow as a process... maybe in those 15 years I wasted on advertising I could have finished something good in animation... but I think I would have starved to death in the process hahaha.
Fig.21 'Weregoat II «Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication» ' (2016)
11) Are you a movie fan? If so, do you prefer movies to be dark? What is your favorite movie?
KCG: Yes, I like the dark... but I appreciate different genres in cinema, my favorite movies are Alien and Blade Runner (Scott), Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain, Stalker (Tarkovsky), La Bete (Borowczyk), the VVitch (Eggers ), Akira (Otomo), Dead Man (Jarmusch), Lost Highway (Lynch), The Party (Blake Edwards)... to name a few that I remember now, I really like science fiction... comedy, I love the horror genre, but it's hard to find a horror movie that has all the elements I like, maybe I should make my own movie.
12) I read somewhere that the guitarist Slash once wore one of the t-shirts you designed? Is that true? If so, is there a story behind that by any chance?
KCG: Yes, it's a bit of an old story, but in 2017... 2018 more or less, some friends from the United States began to print and sell T-shirts with my designs over there. We had a deal in which I receive a percentage of the sales and well, they do all the dirty work. They have an instagram page @blackcloudcompany where they advertise the T-shirts, Slash discovered them on this page and bought several different T-shirts with my designs. Later he appeared playing live with Guns and Roses, wearing one of the T-shirts. The thing went even further when my friends left him some T-shirts backstage and got photographed with him. It was very good for sales at that time, but that's the story, the guy has posted my drawings a thousand times on his instagram page but he has never mentioned me, he likes my art but he doesn't give a fuck who produces it…. I do not care ether though….
Fig.23. 'Death Boat ' (2022)
Fig.24. 'Say you Love Satan «Monsters Holding Bitches #666» ' (2017)
Fig.25. 'I Love Internet ' (Jan 2023)
Fig.27. Blasphemous sketch (Apr 2023)
Fig.28. Know Yourself
Fig.29. BDSM Studies
Fig.30. I Love Internet (Apr 2023)
Fig.32. 'Ouroboros' from the Violent Sex series (was issued as a sticker in the past)
Fig.33. Drawing Puke (2022)
Update June 2023: Recently the Instagram account of KerbCrawlerGhost has been deleted again. .He also told me of other setbacks that severely hampered his artistic endeavors. To ensure that this artist does not get drowned under the politically correct wave, I would like to call on you to support him by buying his work and merchandise through his website (his most recent work Nigrum is still available!)
Click HERE for our earlier article on KerbCrawlerGhost
*Dark Romanticism is a literary sub-genre of Romanticism, reflecting popular fascination with the irrational, the demonic and the grotesque that focuses on human fallibility, self-destruction, judgement, punishment, as well as the psychological effects of guilt and sin.
Source: All the images (except for figure 5) were kindly provided by KerbCrawlerGhost
Let us know your thoughts on the dark visual poetry of KerbCrawlerGhost in the comment box below...!!