David Rusbatch draws inspiration from dance music in a new exhibition. Chris Bond talks to the Leeds-born artist.
ART and music might, on paper at least, seem unlikely bedfellows. They appeal to different senses for a start.
But on reflection they share a closer synergy than we perhaps think. Take album covers for instance. Part of the enduring appeal of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is Sir Peter Blake’s iconic sleeve design, the same goes for The Dark Side Of The Moon, created by the late Storm Thorgerson, while pop artist Andy Warhol famously managed 60s avant garde rockers the Velvet Underground.
Not only that, but think of all the artists inspired by music. Jackson Pollock listened to jazz while he attacked the canvas in an orgy of paint, while the Three Musicians and The Old Guitarist are among Picasso’s greatest works.
But when we think of the relationship between music and art we perhaps don’t think about dance music, apart from the yellow smiley face icon synonymous with the Acid house scene of the late 80s.
However, artist David Rusbatch’s latest exhibition, Lost & Found, draws inspiration from the dance music he grew up listening to. The exhibition, which has just gone on show at RedHouse Originals Gallery, in Harrogate, features 26 mixed media works that blend traditional paintings with collage and man-made objects.
Rusbatch, who lives in Leeds, feels dance music is often disparaged unfairly. “We think of psychedelic art and pop art and even folk music has its own visual identity, but dance music has never had that apart from perhaps the graphic designs linked to the Hacienda.
“It’s had a bad rap over the years through its associations with the drug culture, but there’s more skill involved than many people realise and I want to try and give it a bit more legitimacy.”
The 34 year-old may well achieve that for he already has an impressive body of work behind him. He’s exhibited alongside the likes of Julian Opie, Sir Peter Blake and Banksy and in 2009 became one of the youngest artists to exhibit at the Venice Biennale. He was also commissioned to create a portrait series based on Howard Marks for The Mr Nice Project.
For his latest exhibition he drew inspiration from another, less likely, source. “My mum was a teacher and recently retired and looking through her teaching things it was like finding an Aladdin’s cave, there were different kinds of coloured paper and plastics and these bright colours seemed to me to tie in with the vibrancy of dance music.”
He believes that dance music and art share a pioneering spirit. “Art is always looking for something new and innovative and dance music shares that sense of experimentation. The fact that it perhaps isn’t mainstream doesn’t mean it’s not viable. Dance music is constantly changing and evolving and that’s what art should be about, too.”
• Lost & Found, RedHouse Originals Gallery, Harrogate, to May 3.