On the 20th October, we made our way to the 5th Base gallery off Brick Lane to attend the private view of graphic designer Mike Coles's exhibition Forty Years in the Wilderness 1976-2016.
It was also the launch of his fantastic book of the same name, probably the best, most beautiful book I've seen, a truly fascinating collection of Mike's work, from the illustrations he brought with him when he first came to London in 1976 to his latest 2016 creations, including the different versions of the sleeve artwork for Killing Joke's latest album, Pylon. Mike Coles and Killing Joke go back a long, long way indeed - since the band's inception, Mike has created all of the most iconic Killing Joke iconography.
Together with KJ in the late 70s, Mike created the Malicious Damage Records label, which was put on hold in 1983 and was resurrected in 2003 - I remember, as a music journalist in London, writing about a few live events organised by Malicious Damage circa 2005 and reviewing some of the label's CDs (I even wrote a feature article about Mike's work and the label!).
Mike Coles's artwork is truly exciting: he mixes his own photography, images cut out of vintage magazines and books to conjure up a series of unique worlds (in turn punk, baroque, gothic, industrial, psychedelic...) within which chaos, madness and danger collide with the creepy wholesomeness of the vintage images.
At 212 pages, the book gives a fascinating insight into Mike's art, craft, inspiration and thought processes; it is a riot of colours and typography, truly the most beautiful "coffee table" book I've ever seen (congratulations to the printer, Sam at ss-media, with whom we had a little chat!).
The private view/launch was a very relaxed and jovial affair - everything organised with the usual attention to detail characteristic of Mike's touch.
We took our time to have a good look at all the art on offer, but it took us ages to decide which one to buy (most of them were on our list!) - we kept hopping from one artwork to the other, always discovering new details within the images...
And it was an added bonus to bump into the legendary Youth as we left the venue!
You can buy the book "Forty Years in the Wilderness" from the Malicious Damage website HERE.
In 1976, Mike Coles arrived in London with £90, a rucksack and a little book of drawings. Three years later, he helped start Malicious Damage Records with a few mates and an unknown band called Killing Joke. His logic being that if you have a record lable, you'll be able to deisgn all the record sleeves, posters and t-shirts, and maintain what he fondly refers to as "stubborn independence".
And following on the theme... tomorrow, the Arcane/ArtPix team will be at Colchester Arts Centre and on Friday at the Brixton Academy to see Killing Joke!
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