I'm happy to bring you a new find for our wrestling artist interview series! Steven Fain creates remarkable portraits of remarkable wrestlers - often in the bold medium of Sharpie on paper! Fain makes sure we know he's an untrained artist (although I prefer “self-taught”), but I say it takes a lot of skill to capture such precise lights and shadows with any of these. Iconic but blunt and indelible markers that I myself have messed up more times than I can count. When you consider that he captures this brilliant era of independent wrestlers with the very brand of scorer so many of them bring with them to sign photos for the fans, it really is a smart and complex medium choice.
Steven's subjects aren't the garish, larger-than-life, aesthetically beautiful subjects that inspire so many wrestling artists. The wrestlers he portrayed are the shameless purveyors of violence as an art. Fain works with a whole different show of excess, looking beyond the violence for the humans who work with it. The tired lines of Nick Gage's face tell the story of the man, rather than the violence he projects. A traditional oil portrait features Mance Warner's fresh-faced entryway pose, rather than the wreckage he leaves behind. And with Danhausen, whose frightening aesthetic plunges into the realms of abjection and unheimlich, Fain shows us a carnival showman welcoming us happily in his kunstkammer. After reading Steven Fain's thoughts on the art of wrestling, go back to previous interviews in this series . . .
Show of excess:Why is wrestling an art? And why does he make such a good subject for art?
Steven Fain: I believe that the function of art, if it is to have one, is to create an emotional response and a relationship with the audience, whatever the medium. Friday night my daughter and I were at a wrestling show, which is a common place to find us, and there was a very violent match going on. I looked at her and her friend and both hid behind their hands while peering through them, unable to look away. They were horrified but elated at the same time, completely in the moment and totally invested in the emotion that was manifesting. Most performers live their lives trying to reach an audience at this real level and never make it, but all over America there are these performers in small bars, high school gyms and bingo halls that lay their bodies on the line, literally sacrificing blood to tell their story. If it's not art, I hope I'll never call myself an artist, because those connections are what it's all about, not just as a goal for art, but as a goal for life.
For me it is a perfect subject for art because independent wrestling touches something in me. All artists use the things that speak to them to create their art and for me it's professional wrestling. I paint a lot of portraits and historical paintings on commission but my heart turns to my wrestling art.
This artwork is a 16x20 oil painting on canvas. I make my own paints by hand and use a variety of inexpensive brushes and sponges, no surprises. Most of my brushes are disposable plastic and I also use Q-tips for the parts. My main income is commissioned oil paintings, mainly portraits and historical subjects.
Mance Warner is a national treasure. It is easily my favorite painting that I made. This is painted with a photo I took as a reference from my daughter's first show and the first time I saw Mance wrestling live. On TV, his promotions are electric and every game must be watched on TV. In person, both things are magnified by 10. Seeing Mance's work is an amazing experience and every time I see this painting, which will be hung on my wall after I got it signed by Mancer at the end of August, I'm taken back to this experience.–Steven Fain, on Nameless body in rooms without memory
SofX:Is there a difference between fan art and “real” art?
SF: The difference between fan art and other arts is strictly a legal classification for me. I am a professional artist and as a hobby I draw fan art. Fan art, to me at least, refers to art that you don't own a copyright to. I can't draw Spider-man, for example, and then sell that drawing. I don't own the copyright, so it's fan art. The art of wrestling is no different. These men and women run their own stalls / merchandise sites as part of the income they earn. Therefore, the art made of them, which would only sell because they are there, would not only be illegal, but immoral, to sell. I know some people disagree, but most of these people are trying to steal other people's copyrights.
There isn't much to say about this piece technically. This is a cheap 50 lb piece of sketching paper with a black regular tip Sharpie marker.
Nick Gage is an absolute legend. If you like hardcore, you like Nick Gage. This man bled more for fans than any artist has ever sacrificed for their audience. It's absolute dread, but I tried to use the limited medium I was working in to just show his completely clean face: not splashed with blood and bruises, but still showing the sacrifice he willingly gave. .–Steven Fain, on Nick gage sharpie
SofX:Who are your favorite artists in general? What periods or artistic movements appeal to you the most?
SF: Robert Mapplethorpe. Banksy and Fermin La Calaca for the visual arts and Mance Warner, Danhausen and Brett Ison for the performance artists. Having never had art lessons of any kind, I fear that my knowledge of artistic movements is really insufficient. The visual artists I love are daring and sometimes shocking, asking questions of themselves and the audience, and performance artists are no different. You don't see any WWE or Big Business guys in my portfolio because I love guys who like to be slammed on thumbtacks, paint themselves like demons and put their teeth together, and like being thrown through doors covered with barbed wire, once again, to question themselves and the public. .
SofX:What do you think of the idea that wrestling is a "spectacle of excess"?
SF: It seems like a phrase that would fit perfectly. Wrestling is at its best when it makes you believe what is amazing and for that it lives in excess. The attitudes, the costumes, the performances… everything is exaggerated. It is indeed a spectacle of excess and I love every second.
Again, not much to say technically, as this is just paper and a Sharpie. I appreciate the simplicity of black and white, and even using inexpensive materials I think it can, if done right (and I don't know if I'm doing it right), elicit an emotion that cannot be not overwhelm someone with colors and details. Of course, this could also be my way of rationalizing a lack of technical skills.
I love this Danhausen. If anyone is wondering if wrestling is an art, just consult Danhausen. He paints himself as a demon. He fights like a god, and he does some incredible promos that don't even make you wonder if they're art. I haven't known Danhausen for as long as the other two that I have chosen to present, but for a study of the art in professional wrestling it is certainly a compulsory course.–Steven Fain, on Danhausen Sharpie
SoX:So youmakeyou know it's wrong, right?
SF: I have seen people cry at the end of wrestling matches. I have seen people jump up and down because they are so full of joy that they literally can't control it. There is no way to call this emotion wrong.
“Scream” star David Arquette has an extreme passion that almost cost him his life — professional wrestling.
Two years ago, Arquette faced off against ex-con Nick Gage in a deathmatch, the most violente style where the wrestlers swing chairs, baseball bats and the like.
With blood gushing from his neck, Arquette gets up and tries to pin Gage but can’t. He jumps out of the ring, holding his neck. Then, he climbs back in and smacks Gage with a folding peau. After a couple of minutes, though, Arquette is the one who gets pinned.
“It nearly cost me my life, ” Arquette told the Star of the match. “I was in way over my head. I was about half an inch from death…”
Arquette decided to go back into the ring after fellow pro wrestler Jack Perry, the son of late actor Luke Perry, assured him that he wasn’t bleeding to death. Perry is the one who took Arquette to the hospital.
Arquette told the Star : “I could hear Luke but I couldn’t see him, ” Arquette told the Star. “I said : ‘Luke is it pumping ? ’ because I was worried I was bleeding out and he said : ‘No it’s not pumping. ’ I knew at that point I wasn’t dying immediately, I could try to finish the match. ”
Arquette has had a lifelong love affair with wrestling, which is traced in a new documentary, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette. ” The film tells of how Arquette has spent the past two decades trying to earn back the respect of the wrestling world — after he won the World Championship Wrestling heavyweight title as a publicity stunt for his movie “Ready to Rumble. ”
In those years, the 49-year-old Arquette has battled heart problems and drug addiction. After the Gage match, Arquette’s wife, Christine, told him : “I just feel like you want to die, ” the actor recalled.
“I don’t want to die but life is painful, ” Arquette told the Star. “If you have addiction issues like I do there’s an element in the back of your head that the addict is literally trying to kill you. You have to find ways to deal with it so you don’t continue to kill yourself, either slowly or quickly. ”
For Arquette, wrestling helped him deal with the deaths of Luke Perry, a close friend who died of a stroke, and his transgender sister, Alexis, who died of a heart attack.
“Losing someone is really painful but a few things have happened to make me feel we are all much more connected, ” Arquette said. “For wrestling, you shave everything and at one point I was looking at my arms and it was like I was looking at Alexis’ arms, as being transgender she would shave them… For a second it was like I was looking through Alexis’ eyes… I think we’re a lot more connected than any of us know. ”
Through the film, Arquette has finally learned to accept himself. “I accomplished what I set out to do, ” Arquette told the Star. “I wanted to prove I could be a wrestler. And through this whole experience, I figured out – and it’s ironic – I need to stop beating myself up. I had to stop attacking myself and be kind to myself, as corny as it sounds.