Gross art challenges Yukon shtick

Rory Oblivion's art is full of puke, sweat, blood and puss. "It's kind of gross," said the local graphic designer. That's the point.

Rory Oblivion’s art is full of puke, sweat, blood and puss.

“It’s kind of gross,” said the local graphic designer.

That’s the point.

Oblivion is sick of paintings of mountains, fireweed and ravens.

“It’s done to death up here,” he said.

“I haven’t seen anything that challenges what art is.”

His show, Vomica, sets out to do just that.

Inspired by the raunchy comic book characters created by artists like Robert Crumb and Big Daddy Roth, made famous by Rat Fink, Oblivion’s work is full of teeth and eyeballs.

But the gross factor is mitigated by his use of psychedelic, day-glo paints, he said.

It’s not realistic vomit and puss, painted in earthy tones. It’s bright cartoon puke.

“Still I wouldn’t bring small children to the show,” said Oblivion.

“They might have freaky nightmares.”

Some of the works glow in the dark.

“So when you turn off the lights you get these rows of eyeballs, and teeth,” he said.

Oblivion bought most of his paint at Lana Rae’s dollar store, for a $1.50 a tube.

Then, he cut it with the more expensive paints sold at Yukon Office Supply and Arts Underground, because the pricey paints stay on the brush longer and flow better.

His favourite colour was cadmium red, named after a very toxic chemical.

Oblivion didn’t realize there was actually cadmium in the paint until days after he started using it.

“It smells like salmon,” he said.

“And it causes cancer.”

But this hasn’t deterred Oblivion.

“It kind of freaked me out,” he said.

“But I love that colour.

“I still use it all the time.”

No, he just tries to keep it off his hands and not breath it in.

Oblivion hadn’t painted since art school, when he had assignments that involved painting with mustard, soy sauce and anything he could find in the fridge.

His interest was in graphic design, and after those first year life drawing and painting courses, that’s the direction his career headed.

Drawing on his graphic design training, Oblivion’s art was made up of digital, scanned images that he could add colour to electronically.

Digital art is forgiving, he said.

“You can change it a million times.

“But with painting, I really had to commit.”

His return to painting all started with a big pile of junked particle board in Oblivion’s basement.

“I didn’t have a truck to get it to the dump, so I decided to paint on it,” he said.

Right around then, Triple J’s Music Cafe owner Jordi Mikeli-Jones approached Oblivion about a possible show.

He bit, but didn’t start painting right away.

Oblivion spent the next few months thinking about what he wanted to do.

The actual painting didn’t start until two weeks ago.

“This is not high-concept work,” said Oblivion.

“I’m not making a huge statement about social stigmas or the government.

“It is more of an artistic statement.”

Putting clashing colours side-by-side, Oblivion is able to make his works vibrate.

“They’re hard to look at,” he said.

And his interest in comics as well as Norse, Greek and Sumerian mythology, featuring crazy creatures with multiple arms and intestines for faces, also pushes the subject matter out of some people’s comfort zones.

“I want to show that art doesn’t have to be pretty,” he said.

“And you don’t need to be making $50,000-plus a year to appreciate it.”

That’s why Oblivion had a beer and toast opening, instead of the usual wine and cheese.

“It’s low class and high test,” he said.

Oblivion hopes to sell some of the works.

But if he doesn’t, he’s happy to hang them all in his house.

“I’ll be happy if people love it, or hate it,” he said.

“As long as there’s a reaction.”

Art should be exciting, not nice, said Oblivion.

“If someone describes my work as nice, I’ll probably off myself.”

Vomica runs until February 12 at Gallery 22 above Triple J’s, behind the Hougen Centre.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

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