Noel Fielding is best known for his surreal style of humour but now he has an exhibition of his artwork on show in Harrogate. Chris Bond talks to him about comedy and art.
NOEL Fielding apologises for missing my calls but he’s been a bit tied up. We were supposed to speak the day before, but he had to hurry to the studio at the last minute to record a song for a new album with his friend Serge Pizzorno from the band Kasabian. He finally speaks to me from the airport lounge at Heathrow where he’s waiting to catch a flight bound for Los Angeles where he’s spending the next week or so working.
On top of all this he has an art exhibition at RedHouse Originals Gallery in Harrogate which runs throughout the remainder of the month, having been on display at Harrogate Theatre last weekend.
The collection features original watercolour paintings taken from Fielding’s exhibition, He Wore Dreams around Unkind Faces, first shown earlier this year at the Royal Albert Hall. The exhibition ties in with the Harrogate Comedy Festival and Fielding has fond memories of the spa town from when he came here with the live tour of The Mighty Boosh. “It’s a shame I can’t be there because it’s a beautiful place. I remember going there with the Boosh,” he says.
Fielding made his name through the surreal TV comedy show, which he co-wrote with Leeds-born Julian Barratt, and is now one of the most recognisable comedians in the country. But he initially seemed destined for a career as an artist, rather than a comedian or actor. He trained at Croydon Art College and today his artwork features everything from painting and collage to multi-media installations. His work, you won’t be surprised to learn, is bold and vivid. It’s also playful and dark at times.
“My comedy and my art is very visual,” he says. “When I was working on the Boosh with Julian I would often draw sketches of ideas because I found this was a quicker way of explaining what I meant.”
Although most people know him for his comedy he’s enjoyed success with his art, too. His first solo exhibition at Gallery Maison Bertaux in 2008 was a sell out success and he’s also had work on show at the Saatchi Gallery.
His interest in art started when he was a youngster. “The first paintings I saw were Magritte’s, there was a book lying open on a table and I started flicking through it.” It piqued his curiosity. “I got into Dali and I loved Terry Gilliam’s animation for Monty Python, it was brilliantly weird. I really liked Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings, too, but it was only later that I got into Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat.”
He finds that painting offers a counterbalance to being a stand-up. “Comedy is great but there’s a constant feeling of terror, you always live in fear of a bad gig and I find painting is a way for me to relax, it’s a completely different kind of buzz.”
He enjoys exploring different artistic techniques. “I tend to work with acrylic which uses a lot of paint whereas with watercolours it’s the opposite.”
His exhibitions have proved popular and his work has been snapped up by some interesting names, including the likes of Turner Prize winners Damien Hirst and Keith Tyson, as well as Ringo Starr. “Some of my art is quite funny and some of my comedy is quite arty and somehow I manage to glue the two of them together to some degree of success, or failure,” he says. “When I was a student my art was sometimes a bit too serious and I remember my teacher saying that funny things in art are the same as in comedy, that’s one of the biggest things I learnt from art school – that there aren’t any boundaries.”
Noel Fielding’s art exhibition runs at RedHouse Originals Gallery, Harrogate, until October 31.
Read more at: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/analysis/noel-fielding-comedian-brings-his-mighty-brush-to-yorkshire-1-7513696