artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up
Subversive artist, Recycled Propaganda sat down to talk to Madame Soho recently about the artist’s role in the world, his observations of modernity and his vision for society.
The Las Vegas based artist creates penetrating and thought provoking pieces across a range of mixed media. Concerned with the natural environment, he delivers powerful visual narratives that explore the themes of fracking, greed and government corruption.
The artist’s socio-political aesthetic is driven by the desire to create a nuanced look at the bigger picture.
Madame Soho: Hi Recycled Propaganda, can we begin by asking you where you’re from?
Recycled Propaganda: I am from a village in Warwickshire in the UK.
MS: What was it like growing up there?
RP: Rural. It was isolated and a little dull at times, but generally wholesome with a lot of freedom and interaction with nature.
MS: Has your upbringing informed your creative process?
RP: My mother is an artist so growing up in close proximity to that inevitably influenced and honed my creative mind. Plus growing up in that unique time where the world transitioned from analogue and digital allowed me to integrate the computer into my creative process at an early age, whilst still appreciating traditional practice.
MS: When did you first start becoming socially and politically aware of your environment?
RP: My father is American, so I always lived an unorthodox lifestyle between two countries. This feeling that my world was different to everyone else’s gave me an early curiosity to other people’s behaviors. Naturally, this curiosity broadened to groups of people and rules that govern behavior, aka society and politics.
MS: When did your life as an artist begin?
RP: I feel I have always been an artist and i think everyone has some form of artistic expression within themselves. I only became a ‘working’ artist when I took on the Recycled Propaganda Pseudonym.
MS: I love the Pseudonym, can you tell us about it. How did you come up with it, what does it represent?
RP: A friend actually came up with the phrase. I think the name summates the nature of my art to give a more nuanced view of the world and life. Hence, recycling propaganda, which is a certain and often false assertion of the world, into something more ambiguous and reflecting of real world happenings.
MS: Does the artist have a responsibility in society?
RP: I have always had a deep desire to achieve something meaningful with my life that would change the world in a lasting and positive manner, like many people reading this I am sure. Whilst living in the UK I had a lot of social and political thoughts and also the artistic background, but the two never met. At the age of 24 I moved to the USA to live here full time (which I had never done before). Just like as a child, I felt by being an outsider I gained a huge perspective on this country, and after living here a year the frustrations of all I saw built up to the point where I had to do something ‘meaningful’ with my life. I was going to volunteer, help third world countries etc but decided to use my current skill sets (art/ graphics) to give the world and the US what I thought it needed. It was at this point I ran with Recycled Propaganda and the rest is history.
To answer the question more specifically, I think everyone has a responsibility to society and art is a reflection of the world we live in. In my opinion the increasing amount of politically and socially charged artwork is a direct reflection of social angst amongst all of us. I think art is often very progressive and ahead of the curve, and from that perspective yes I think all artists should consider the wider ramifications of their work and perhaps make it reflect their moral compass and vision for the future more.
MS: What do you think about the regeneration of Soho?
RP: Honestly i never lived in London. However, Vegas is near the beginning of the gentrification phase of its arts district utilizing a lot of corporate money. I think in the early stages its great, but as always it needs balance and can be overexploited. It strikes me London has probably been overly gentrified and the greed of big money have overtaken artistic integrity…
MS: What is your biggest hope?
RP: My biggest hope is that people really take the development of critical thought of themselves and their surroundings to heart. I don’t want to tell people what to think, I want to force people to teach themselves how to think. This period of history is very dangerous for us and our humanity. Technology is penetrating every aspect of our lives and if we lose our ability to critically think and just accept being told, then I think it leaves us all vulnerable to being misled and exploited. Moreover, the lack of downtime technology has left us with means we have zero moments to ponder or innovate or communicate. So my hope is for people to think first and Google last.
All images by Recycled Propaganda Words and Interview by Ray Kinsella
Our World Artists Series represents and features underground artists from across the globe.