NOSTALGIA • ButlerArchive { EXHIBIT }

I was spending the afternoon scrolling through instagram back in summer 2015, as you do – I was stuck in a rut as an artist, seriously looking for some Inspiration.
Could I really be an artist? Like for real for real? I hadn’t painted a canvas in a year, no contemplations on paper GSM and texture, against 2B and F graphite pencils. I hadn’t used a fine liner in any other fashion other than to jot down tedious and very pointless To Do lists – and I definitely hadn’t sewn a garment since 2009.

I was hiding behind my Adobe Suite in the name of digital media design…

Then I came across the first post below, shit. Wasn’t even in church and the conviction was digging… and then I followed the monochrome road and then, “OMG who are all these sexy women?! yes! Wait one sec, is that me?”  (such a beg, so ungodly).

Screen grab save, upload to my insta:

Months later, I changed my username like 7 times and then deleted my account…
Then late winter 2016, I was spending the afternoon scrolling through instagram, as you do – I’d finally fixed my website and updated my portfolio, and everything under my name on the internets was on brand but something was seriously missing…
I looked at my instagram and there were soo many pics of me modelling, I’m not a model…

I’m an artist and a designer but I kept asking myself “Could I really be an artist? Like for real for real?” Frustrated I started mass deleting “this shit isn’t me, this is not a reflection of my work?! Nobody knows I’m artist ? I’m gonna die with my art work unknown… inspiring no one… noooo…” * panic attack, scream painting face *

Home – Search – Pictures you might like:

“I know this work..?” some pictures popped up in the feed, click profile: butlerarchive
I swear he was called butlerdesign? Meh anyway, Like, Like, Like, Like, binge liked a bunch of pics, “so consistent?” I thought to myself, then BAM Follow. Consistency…

That evening, “butlerarchive is Live” ignored the thought process about how creepy social media is getting and • OaCommunicate joined chat •

I was so intrigued? So after about two adhoc 1min sessions, I find out that he prefers fineliner, uses print paper often for his sketches; helps the follow and takes away pressure to create. He was working in retail, saved up some cash monies and put on his own solo exhibition – and on top of that he’s colour blind? Oh yeah, and the name change? Well the concept prior was that he was a “butler: servant of design” but as  a multidisciplinary artist the archive is basically his collection of work.

Then that little nagging Nollywood voice came back, this time with a cane in the left hand ( oh the skill – ambidextrous much?! ) “Does he have two heads? Do you not have the same passion for design? and where is your work?!” I was tempted to scream “Shut up?!” I didn’t. 🙂

I got my head together, turned my apartment into a HomeStudio (finally) bought my materials and wrote this post instead: New Year, Old Me : Begin when You’re Ready!


Then the following week I preed again and clocked this exhibition poster and I knew it was a sign. I had to go. How did I miss that?

Bloody DLR! Urgh, East India station, almost got lost – NO actually, I booked a ticket for Saturday… I managed to miss that day and ended up going on the very last day, I literally left an hour before closing. I’d been up since 2am in the studio working… but tried to convince myself I wasn’t ready for it.Maybe just go to the next one?” lies.

••• Left against the brick wall… N O S T A L G I A —>> *looks at watch* 5:35pm… get over yourself and enjoy the art, you’re here aren’t you?
Traipsed in the block like wah?
Nah I’m kidding LOL. I zoned out and in, as I do when indulging in Art. It needed to be personal… It was.

After being taken on a back trip through some of his old pointillist and fine-line-work classics, I under-passed a delicate and slightly gathered white curtain with a boxed out entry opening… The mood was still, ethereal, exclusively inclusionary. Up above a cloud of balloons, omnium gatherum, subjectively afloat; motionless in white. It was cold and dark outside, everything about the outside world was cold. Straight ahead, parallel to eye view: The Crying Twins, style akin to a few of my fav Roy Litchtenstein pop art pieces, Hopeless, Happy Tears, Crying Girl.
This was art, I was in a cocoon of artwork, safe, imploding with delight. It was like being back at Art College circa 07, I felt guilty. It was like I was doing preparatory work for my Art GCSE student’s final portfolios again, circa 13… wtf?! I was speechless! This felt RIGHT in my Leftist mind.


Literally me at his work lol.

In the main room there were 6 pieces, acrylic on canvas; pale pastel pinks, and baby boy blues, washed whites and neutralised nudes. Bold black beloved brush strokes bound the negative space, whilst the odd fluorescent tertiary colour fought it’s way through, like the tangy sharp and sugary taste of those orange sherbets from the pick ‘n mix bags after school.

There I go, beelining inquisitively but carefully, all I wanted was more information, I was welcomed with a hug.
“Oh?”
I almost said thanks, I mean  there was no champagne, no free wine, no Coca Cola, no boujie artsy ‘norms’, just a very open personal space. {Too many events, too many protocols.}
This, on the other hand, was very refreshing…

“…butler… butler. butler.” he repeated quietly into the space between secrets, as though to remind himself of his alias.
Sorry girls I tried, couldn’t get his real name. My efforts were blasé though…

It was intuition, he said, that helped him decipher canvas sizes. Feeling over thought, we’re rarely taught to do things that way. But this was Art… He also never used pencil, not even to sketch a base, all ink…

“4, 5… Thousand… That is?!”
I hadn’t doubted, rather more expected, but by his tone I had to assume his hard graft and persistence had somehow, somewhere, been overlooked…
Oh sorry, I’d asked how much it had cost to put the exhibition on, solo, something my very conservative mother would’ve shunned with a side eye and a closely clutched purse. But I’m an artist so why front? In my head I was the student again!
And the foot fall?
“yeah, it was really good, and to know they all came for me?” it was rhetorical, to me, but it was exactly what I wanted to hear : success. A self affirming smile swept discreetly across his face. In his left hand was a half eaten red apple, browning at the core, and in his right, a thin pair of gold and stainless steel paper scissors. His hands weren’t empty, he was tall, slightly stuttered, but vocally prepared to explain, very ready, very self aware.

“Like empty empty? it was completely empty before you came?”
“Yeah, and we put it all together, me and those guys over there…” he gestured over to his team of curators huddled around a wooden reception desk, mid entrance.
He gnawed at the apple again, “…so basically, this whole thing is about nostalgia and basically like my childhood, comics, cartoons – you know Roy Litchenstein?”

“Yeah…”  I zoned out. This is so fucking impressive. He’s doing it? OMG he’s literally showing us artists, that it can be done? I thought to myself, forgetting I was supposed be engaged in conversation – human error…

“Wait so how long did it take, to put it all together?”
“A long time”
“Years?”
“…months.”

An inaudible cartoon was on loop behind him on a large LCD TV; subtitled.

“You don’t, do the edges?”
“What do you mean?”
“Like you don’t paint the edges of the canvas?”
“I’m not a perfect person, so I wont make perfect ar…”
I was projecting, nah deflecting LOL.
“It’s not logical, the way I paint…” he continued.
“Oh right so it’s more the concept that’s logical and the process is abstract?”

I needed another perspective but without the hassle of revealing ones true identity…
I was Pinky and Brain, looking for balance in my art.
I couldn’t buy those canvases last week because I wasn’t ready, I’d forgotten everything I’d learnt over the years… Afraid to brush up – no pun Lol.

“OMG?!” 
The apple and scissors became unemployed, discarded, scattered across the gallery floor like objects in a still life painting – to the left two blurred bodies leapt into an embrace. It was a sentimental moment…  they disappeared. Minutes later the artist returned, Sorry about that, that was my best friend who came all the way from Paris…!”
“That’s so sweet?!”
I wasn’t in PR mode, I was very present, I’d let go of that role a few months prior to this exhibition.

I’m an artist and a designer but I kept asking myself “Could I really be an artist? Like for real for real? The struggle though?!” (Fear of responsibility more like!)

YES , the butler revealed, through silent self determination. With a little bit of nostalgia and a lot of persistence, focus and serious preparation. It is indeed possible…

NOSTALGIA was his 6th solo exhibition, I couldn’t begin to comprehend what I’d missed out on… This was Art, this was life, this was affirming, this was reality, and if this was what being a starving artist could be like after long hibernation sessions in the studio working, saving money and investing in your own skills, then fuck it? I’ll take the risk…
The butler drifted off again… 

Put it on full display mode…” the cartoons were reeling on 14:9, usually that would have freaked me out, OCD and that, but I was still speechless. I did a once over… “Don’t think about it too much, too much, too muchh…” Sampha bled abruptly into the atmosphere out of nowhere… Someone put some music on.

It was well after 6pm, I was overwhelmed, the butler had served up a full course dinner, and I was leaving feeling content, my soul was swole, and I needed to rest and begin again in the studio at 2am… Hungry. Hungry for life. Focused.

There is no one way to express yourself and your art, and if you find you are mutli-disciplinary, just own it. There are no rules, and if there seems likes there’s no straight and narrow pathway to your vision of success and fulfilment as an artist : MAKE A WAY!
Even if you feel like you’re alone and the first in your lane – if you stay focused, the affirmation you needed will come in the end…
First from yourself, after finishing the task at hand, and secondly from the audience who show gratitude and appreciation. If you put in the work, the results wont lie…

“Self expression is key and being able to portray ones message through the arts is a passion in itself.” – ɒbʊhwi Amæɪchi

Such an inspiration.
Pree it here…

Till next time…

xO

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