INTRODUCTION: RALPH STEADMAN
Kinetic, thrilling, full of tension, fear and… loathing, the work of Ralph Steadman
has captured the minds of tastemakers and hipsters for nearly 40 years and his
continued relevance speaks as much to the continued chaos and misery of the
human condition as it does to his immense talent. Through his work with
legendary “Gonzo” journalist/author Hunter S Thompson, Steadman was first
recognized for perfectly illustrating Thompson’s combination of
hallucinogenic mania and existential dread.
Steadman’s aggressive stabs and splatters of paint interact with gross
caricatures that seem to heave and bellowe across the page. It’s rare
that two eyeballs in a Steadman are ever the same size, lips curl and
limbs flail in iconic images that are only static and 2-dimensional in
the most technical sense. It doesn’t matter if he’s drawing a political
autocrat, sporting event or gentle four legged critter, Steadman’s
subjects are always rendered with equal parts precision and abandon.
Steadman’s work with Thompson perfectly captured the chaos and loss of
innocence in the air during the early 70s and his work could have easily been
relegated to that era a footnote for edgier baby-boomers and illustration
enthusiasts, but steadman continued to create and evolve lending his unique style
to whatever the cultural moment requires. From political cartoons to album art
Steadman shows no signs of slowing with age and continues to answer the call of
the muse as if it were a banshee flying menacingly above his head.
Steadman’s new collaboration with Vans is based on “Critical Critters” the third in
a trilogy of books dedicated to extinct and critically endangered animals from
Steadman and film-maker Ceri Levy--the GONZOVATIONISTS.