Michael Bilsborough Makes Frightfully Intoxicating Images

Artist Michael Bilsborough’s delicate, yet violent drawings definitely leave a mark. Our editor exchanged a few words with the California-born, New York-based dynamo. Read the results and see some new pieces, after the jump!

And, of course, be sure to check out Bilsborough’s website.

If your boss objects to drawings of boozing, purging and illustrated sex, consider this feature NSFW.

Queerty: Let’s start simple: what’s your intent as an artist?

Michael Bilsborough: Is that what you call simple? I have a lot of intentions, like trying to pioneer new ideas, offer rare points of view, or reveal something special. But I’m increasingly suspicious that “intentions” are really compulsions, that despite our conceptual pretenses we actually answer to internal obsession. Inspiration is 1% genius and 99% obligation.

QT: There’s been quite a noticeable change in your subjects. The people depicted in 2005 have much more character than your recent work, which features identical, emaciated and quite tragic young figures. Why the shift?

MB: Lately, I’ve directed them to behave like zombies, blindly led by impulse and appetite. They often lack motivation and are stripped of personality. Behaviorism. I’m also thinking of the body in certain states: intoxicated, variously conscious, aroused, unsteady, endangered. So maybe the figures become more diagrammatic, like demonstrating a physical condition more than a unique character. And I’m working less from observation and more from concept. Or maybe I’m becoming such a shut-in that I forget the various ways unique people can look.

QT: Of your 2007 figures – yes, there’s a narrative and the men and women could be interpreted as one, but the similarities seem to be more a – perhaps “critique” isn’t the right word – a commentary on a group of people – a tribe, perhaps?

MB: They’re Western and relatively young. That already signifies a lot. There are traces of critique, but remember Herman’s theory: “I know you are but what I am I?” – or even better, “It takes one to know one.” I also am Western and young, so critique can only go so far.

QT: The Saatchi blog described these figures as “thrill seekers”. Are they simply thrill seekers or did their thrill seeking take a downward spiral?

MB: Both: they are thrill seekers taking a downward spiral, or internally soaring to ecstatic heights and transcendence while externally wading in lowly fluids and banality.