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  • Paul Butler: My Mad Skillz
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Paul butler: my mad skillz

Paul Butler’s subject is contemporary advertising, its reflection of urban social values, its fascination with superficial beauty, and its glamorization of life. He works in the collage tradition by cutting up magazines and then pasting, reorganizing, and sometimes obscuring the ad imagery with materials like duct tape and vinyl. He also photographs many of his collages in order to restore to them the seamless beauty of the glossy magazine.

Collage has had a colourful underground presence in the history of art, from the Cubists of the early 20th century to the Fluxus artists of the fifties, through to the Adbusters, sound-bite samplers and media jammers of the current day. Just as “mad skillz” are associated with hip-hop artists, so they are evidence of Butler’s creative energy and musical influences. Paul Butler carries the torch of collage art for a new generation, as a subversion of popular culture.

About his own work, Paul Butler says: “Collage may seem like a retrograde practice in this era of high-speed technology. Who wants to get their hands dirty when you can use clean, efficient technology as your tool? However, I am drawn to hands-on experience because it allows our minds to process information at a speed that exceeds even the fastest computer. Music, as we all know by now, has fallen head-over-heals for the collage aesthetic. DJs and artists such as Kool Keith, DJ Shadow, and Beck sample tracks and rework them into new, up-to-the-minute mixes and compositions, with varying degrees of recognizability or similarity to the original. By the same token, I lift images out of their original contexts (usually magazines) and then decide what I want to retain and what I want to obscure.”

Duct tape, masking tape, vinyl and discarded magazines are Butler’s tool kit in the creation of series such as Art Ads - the conversion of glossy exhibition promos into original art works, Perfect 10 - natural beauties become silhouettes with the use of black duct tape, and Positive Mental Attitude - inspirational posters featuring recycled landscapes. Process and community is key to the production of these art works, and Butler remains true to these ideas with his roving Collage Party, an event that spreads the exuberance of collage throughout the world.

This is the first major publication on Paul Butler’s work, with foreword by Rodney LaTourelle, and interview with Robert Enright, and essays by Lisa Gabrielle Mark and Cliff Eyland.



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Paul Butler: My Mad Skillz