Gonzo: The Art – Ralph Steadman

“… One of the many facets that sets Hunter S. Thompson’s 70s works apart from other forms of classic American literature are the growling, snarling, punch-between-the-eyeballs illustrations of Ralph Steadman. Roaring from the pages, his pictures visualise the horrors of corporate America, ripping the surface to reveal the political greed and other grotesqueries that contort and degrade the human forms within his pictures. With his method of isolating and focusing on a physical idiosyncrasy, he explodes his subjects, capturing a hidden truth that was hitherto unseen; it’s as if Steadman sees with the naked eye of a schizophrenic. Bloodsucking business men, venal politicians, dollar drugged gamblers, archetypal beholders of negation and power transmogrified into grinning reptilia, squarking sharp-beaked birds, gorgons of sheer inhuman greed. In the ferocious stroke of a few simple lines he trans-atlantically expresses all the negative facets of the human condition to a terrifyingly hilarious degree. If we think of the old metaphor of the artist’s pen being a sword, then Steadman’s scribe is nuclear. Below is an almost verbatim conversation I conducted with Mr Steadman via a phonebox on Kings Street in Manchester city centre. His rumbling Welsh accent was full of charisma, his personality very accommodating, meditatory, thoughtful and warm. When talking about the death of Hunter S Thompson a real sense of bereavement -the only sort that can be when a real friend passes by- was prevalent in the tone in which he talked about him. Amidst rush hour traffic and passing packets of suit-encased, office imprisoned flesh, the conversation went thus … Something that would give him pain but have him talk about it, because instead of shooting away the one exceptionally wonderful piece of machinery in his body: His brain! The centre of all his being. The centre of his genius really. And he is a genius, no doubt about it as for going down as a great, great journalist writer. He didn’t write novels, he took William Faulkner’s advice about fact being far more stranger than fiction. …”
Ralph Steadman: Gonzo: The Art
Gonzo: The Art
W – Ralph Steadman
amazon: Gonzo: The Art

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