Views / Backstage Pass London

Eclectic London artist James Kirkpatrick takes inspiration from sci-fi, cartoons and video games

Walking into this exhibit is like walking into the delightfully chaotic labyrinth that is James Kirkpatrick’s brain.

The London-based painter, sculptor, graffiti artist, rapper and experimental instrument maker has travelled all over the world to tour his myriad of projects.

And somehow he has found a way to synthesize all his wild creations for his London show, Secret Base by the Lake, at the McIntosh Gallery, opening Thursday.

Kirkpatrick’s bright and highly detailed work takes its inspiration from science fiction, cartoons and the secret worlds of video games — mashing them up and transforming them into paintings, sound sculptures and a movable wall that is a peephole to his past.

Peering through the holes in the wall send you back in time to reveal various stages of Kirkpatrick’s career. Snippets of underground video footage give you insight into his younger self and the medley of similarly chaotic brains he was hanging out with at the time.

One of the videos shows Kirkpatrick spray painting in São Paulo, Brazil, with the now famous identical twin brother graffiti artists Os Gêmeos (Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo).

Kirkpatrick, who attended H.B. Beal Secondary School in London and then Halifax’s Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2002, began as a graffiti artist. His figurative imagery is still found on walls and trains in Europe, North and South America.

Besides the giant fort containing a TV playing a music video by the artist (oh, and a lever that lowers a bag of candy into a nearby sculpture), perhaps the most fascinating part of the exhibition is the sound towers.

The painted Easter egg-like structures are made of thrift store fabric. Their delicate insides contain wires that lead to a small box of Arduino electronics.

Sitting on top of the towers are smaller, removable spinning top-like sculptures. These secret keys have the power to unlock new tones and designs when moved to other towers.

“The sounds I’m using are from songs of mine. They come from circuit bent toys that I record and then manipulate,” says Kirkpatrick.

The towers also emit different sounds based on your distance from them. People are encouraged to experiment.

“I’m interested in other people having a certain amount of chance to alter something that I’ve created ... In a sense, people in the show are kind of collaborating with me — like when two people jam,” says the artist.

Kirkpatrick is headed to Japan the day after the opening to tour his music and art with Japanese band Triune Gods.

Catch him at McIntosh Gallery on Thursday for the opening, starting at 7:30 p.m.

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