Sunday, June 21, 2015

Axel Stocks

A few years ago I met and eventually posted about a uniquely stylish artist with a powerful presence I happened to meet at a bar in a town called Prescott, after my friend Carl and I had downed an entire bottle of cake-flavoured vodka in something like 25 minutes, gone out, and continued drinking there. 

I made a post about an interesting Italian immigrant architect when I found out through my former high school painting teacher that he had died in 2013, because I feel like his experimental, environmentalist, distinctly-mid-20th-century-futurist conceptualisations are one of the defining qualities of the Arizona desert.

Then there was the dark period I went through at the end of my first year in Korea (that basically continued for the first half of the second), when I revisited the love I had for Russian literature and Tchaikovsky as a teenager and found out about a cool animator who fit very well into the whole motif.

I'd really hoped that there would be more posts about individual artists after doing that first one, but it hasn't worked out that way. I haven't even made a fashion post in moons possibly numbering in the double digits; it's practically a travesty.

But just now, through another artist I like named Paul Komoda (yes, Virginia, you do indeed have Facebook stalkers), I found out about another one, who was the former's mentor. Like Paolo Soleri, though, the only reason I know his name or have ever seen pictures of his work is that he's unfortunately just passed away.

His name was Axel Stocks, and I'm learning more about him through observing his friend and mentee grieve publicly over social media than the rest of the collective Internet can apparently teach me in its entirety, so maybe I should be appreciative of that and try to share the small pieces of his legacy that I can find. 

What a bamf, seriously
When a true artist and eclectic dies in New York City, everybody should take a minute to notice and consider the cultural relevance of it. Though in this case I'd never heard of Axel Stocks before, I never made a post about Jimmy Mirikitani and still feel like I should have, so I'm not going to skip it.

Frustratingly, the Lower East Side Biography Project interviewed him as part of a series called Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia, but their interviews are aired on a local Manhattan channel and none of the excerpts on YouTube include Axel Stocks. Komoda has posted a personal video or two from about 25 years ago, but I'm not about to take those. The main gallery that hosted his exhibitions, called Art on A, posted that he'd been missing for two weeks before he was found, which bears sad similarity to a story a close friend just told me last week about a terrible personal experience of his.

While the man's anthropomorphic, sometimes grotesquely sexualised sculptural jewelry pieces, sketches, and paintings rendered in his own blood might strike the average person as Satanic or otherwise darkly occult, the man himself thought that occultism was a load of shit and that the only true magic was to be made through art. Paul Komoda said that knowing him was the closest he could have ever come to being in the presence of an actual wizard. 

In their article about his Bloody Genius show a couple of summers ago, Juxtapoz had some pretty hilarious praise for him as the "protégé of Salvador Dalí and jeweler to Axl Rose, this Axl [sic] has authentic Papal robes in his closet and cites Lady GaGa for saving his life".

Here's a piece he did that's clearly a slightly altered Harkonnen Chair...

... and here's him sitting in another one.
I'm not sure if he knew Giger, but it'd make a lot of sense if they'd at least met and gotten along.

And here's him with John John Jesse, the punk rock painter of usually-half-naked hot girls who's done album and poster art for Agnostic Front and cites a mixture of Art Nouveau and Pop Surrealism (among other, more pretentious things) as his influences:

Axel Stocks also owned no fewer than two "annoying" cockatoos that, from the very little I know, seem to have enjoyed perching on peoples' heads above all other worldly pleasures:

Ever seen a festering, blistered, saggy-titted butterfly before?
Me neither.

Ever seen or read Witchblade
That's what these intricate, Bronze Age-looking pieces remind me of.

He seems like the kind of person who lived every day as interestingly as possible, and like he would've been awesome to know.