Having seen only a few episodes of The Mighty Boosh, I would imagine that being inside Noel Fielding’s head is like eating a pound of ground nutmeg and ambling around in a fairground. The dude is just weird. His art is currently on display in one of those hip limited-edition galleries in Covent Garden, the Vestal Pop Up Salon & Gallery, so of course the repressed hipster in me felt a dire need to experience it.
The place is slightly bigger than the average living room and there are maybe two dozen (if that) pieces on display. They are mostly paintings, neon brush strokes and splatters, weird creatures staring at the patrons from the walls. There are similarities to his 2008 exhibition, Psychedelic Dreams of the Jelly Fox, although the lines are now more jagged and the monsters less cartooney.
Bubble Gum Cats at the Cinema (which is exactly what it sounds like) is on the nicer side of things, fluffy and pink and dreamy. Then, across the room, are two monochromatic creatures, like slit-eyed owls, staring into your soul. They are titled Love Is. There are some collages here, torn book spines and bits of magazines, and the occasional foray into colour pencil. It’s impossible to tell how much of all this weirdness is fake. The psychoanalyst in me wants to write about a mind torn between the morbid and the psychedelic, but my casual observer side suspects that it’s all nothing but a product of boredom and all those rainy London afternoons.
Vestal is actually a bar. The bar itself is improvised out of wooden crates, at odds with all the shiny surfaces in St Martin’s Courtyard. A chatty blond bartender shakes up cocktails (£5 a piece! In London!) and disappears occasionally to fiddle with the iPod. The cocktails are surprisingly not bad; standard rum-martini-strawberry fare served in plastic glasses. Various sketches of creepy faces observe the punters from the opposite wall. Frankly, not something you want to wake up to at the foot of your bed.
Surprisingly, Fielding turned 38 this year. There is something ageless about him, something nondescript and gender-less about his art. More likely than not, it’s all a bit of fun. There is no serious discussion of colour theory and no potted plant understudies. It could go either way, really: a gallery catering to the alcoholic needs of its central London target audience or a bar with the abject luck of landing a British comedian’s paintings as a selling point. Whatever the case may be, it makes for an interesting stop-over on the way to wherever you may be going tonight.
Noel Fielding’s exhibtion is running until August 7 at:
Vestal Vodka Salon and Gallery
St Martin’s Courtyard,
25 Slingsby Place