Purple Institute

[October 2 2014]

Read our interview with Paul McCarthy in Purple Fashion #22 out now

DONATIEN GRAUYou 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 GRAUWhere 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.


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 GRAUYou 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 GRAUPainting 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

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