[October 2 2014]
DONATIEN GRAU — You just mentioned mayonnaise, ketchup, and shit. That’s the element of scatology. When did you actually start bringing it in? Also, why and how?
PAUL MCCARTHY — Well, it happens in a few of the structural films in the beginning. I think I use motor oil and grease as if it’s blood and shit. I also made these floor pieces in 1970. I thought of them as painting. I put paper on the floor, big rectangles of paper 8 x 15 feet. I poured used black motor oil all over the paper, making a painting.
DONATIEN GRAU — Where did the food element come from? Was it another way to use colors, another palette?
PAUL MCCARTHY — Yes, I think in color, paint, and body fluids. Red, white, and brown.
DONATIEN GRAU — Why food?
PAUL MCCARTHY — It’s like shit. Food is connected to my family, connected to culture in a way that paint isn’t. Paint is specific to artists; food relates to the table — sitting at the table, the father, the mother. My father put ketchup on everything, and it’s blood; mayonnaise: sperm; chocolate: shit. There’s an element of disgust.
DONATIEN GRAU — You once told me, half-jokingly, that every artist has material, and that your material is shit. So where does that come from and when does that unfold?
PAUL MCCARTHY — Shouldn’t I paint a painting with shit? The substance that comes out of me: using my face and my body as a paintbrush, painting with shit. It just seemed like, why wouldn’t you take it there? I didn’t know about the IRA prisoners; I didn’t know about Günter Brus. It just made sense, the same with painting with my penis. They were just very direct reactions to the question: Why not? And also they were painting jokes or shit jokes, jokes on painting. Wanting to regress, I thought: I will be dirty. I believed in the image.
DONATIEN GRAU — Painting with your penis and using shit, real shit, is something different from using ketchup, mayonnaise, and chocolate. How do you deal with the two of them?
PAUL MCCARTHY — There’s something about going from one to the other. I mean I guess there are lines that I draw. I’ve made pieces where I’ve cut myself. Shit is just so accessible.
Read more from this interview in Purple Fashion magazine #22. Click here to buy