BEYOND THE TANARIAN HILLS: THE ART OF NICK BLINKO
  Overview    September 14, 2016     Lacy Soto

Your basic Dwarf+Giant Overview is a comprehensive survey of an author or series. It is not an in-depth analysis, nor is it a summary. Think of it as a buying or reading guide, telling you what’s out there, what’s essential, what to avoid and so forth.

 

 

“The religious and the macabre are a big part of my personality…there wouldn’t be much left without them.” -Nick Blinko

Nick Blinko is an outsider, a weirdo, and an enigma. Idolized by those interested in the avant-garde, Blinko was and is the frontman of Rudimentary Peni (the greatest anarcho-death/art-punk band ever) and a prolific visual artist who creates striking pen and ink drawings.  He’s also celebrated as an author who has written and illustrated three books.  Photographs of Blinko are rare, and rarer still is  any live footage of Rudimentary Peni performing.  What is more common is the iconography of Rudimentary Peni, which you may or may not have seen adorning the back of the black leather jackets or hooded sweatshirts of punk rockers young and old.  Those who know of him are devoted and even as I consider Blinko from the haunted corridors of The Last Bookstore (an establishment of which he would surely approve) a young bibliophile spies my copy of The Primal Screamer and is immediately excited and quick to praise the novel’s importance.

 

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It is difficult to find much written about Blinko at all, save for this account from Australian art historian Colin Rhodes, who had this to say about the artist…

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“In the case of British artist Nick Blinko (b.1961), who has in the past been hospitalized, the need to make pictures is stronger than the desire for the psychic ‘stability’ brought by therapeutic drugs which adversely affects his ability to work. His images are constructed of microscopically detailed elements, sometimes consisting of literally hundreds of interconnecting figures and faces, which he draws without the aid of magnifying lenses and which contain an iconography that places him in the company of the likes of Bosch, Bruegel and the later works of Goya. These pictures produced in periods when he was not taking medication bring no respite from the psychic torment and delusions from which he suffers. In order to make art, Blinko risks total psychological exposure.”

-Professor Colin Rhodes, Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives, Thames & Hudson, 2000.

 

THE BOOKS

 

the-primal-screamer

The Primal Screamer.  Originally published in 1995, I purchased my first copy of The Primal Screamer around the same time as its release at a small punk venue where the independent publishing house AK Press (a co-operative which was owned by all members of the collective and where every member had equal say and equal pay) were vending a limited selection of titles.  I must have been fifteen or sixteen at the time and didn’t have much money, but I was more than willing to shell out the ten bucks or so for the book based on the artwork alone. In 2007 the founder of AK Press formed another publishing house PM Press which currently publishes The Primal Screamer making it much easier to find today. (pmpress.org). The Primal Screamer is written in the form of a diary kept by a psychiatrist named Rodney, whose patient “Nat” is a suicidal artist and musician (a thinly veiled Blinko-esque character).  The diary spans over six years in which the reader follows Nat through the writings of his doctor, who eventually and mysteriously vanishes. So obviously autobiographical in nature, I’ve often wondered if The Primal Screamer was written as a sort of therapy in itself. Perhaps Blinko exploring his suffering through narrative had a healing effect on his psyche?

 

thehauntedhead

The Haunted Head. One of the many facets of Blinko that I feel particularly drawn to is that in his creation of intricate and macabre crosshatched pen and ink drawings, I find a likeness to writer and illustrator Edward Gorey (who I have written about twice for Dwarf + Giant… see here and here).
Published in 2009 by Coptic Cat press, The Haunted Head was published in only very limited quantities. It is extremely hard and expensive to obtain, and comes in two editions, one signed with original art work and a CD.  The novel is strange and ethereal, like most of Blinko’s music, and is essentially a collection of dark vignettes with a handful of illustrations, mostly skulls represented in a variety of ways. The subject matter deals with madness, witchcraft, and unsettling events and places in a very stream-of-consciousness style. His words fluctuate from clinical precision to dreamlike and surreal observations.

 

pope-adrian-37
Visions of Pope Adrian 37th. Published in 2011, this is one of the only collections of Blinko’s artwork that is currently available or has even been published.  Sadly, it’s long sold out, difficult to find and expensive. The book consists of 87 drawings and a brief introduction by Blinko, and like The Haunted Head, came in two different editions.  My fingers are crossed that this title will someday soon be reprinted, but unfortunately we may have to wait until Blinko is bereft of life to see my wish come to fruition. (Not that I wish death to come to Blinko; May he live long and find peace where he can).

 

 

LOVECRAFT BABY:  FURTHER RECOMMENDED WORDS, IMAGES + SOUNDS  

cacophonyCacophony by Rudimentary Peni.  Self-released in 1988 on Blinko’s record label Outer Himalayan, Cacophony is RP’s second studio album and it’s a brilliant and bizarre celebration of the works of American horror icon H.P. Lovecraft.  It can be hard to find however (obtaining a copy on vinyl is worth the hefty price tag for the artwork alone) thankfully a kind RP aficionado has posted the complete album on youtube which you can listen to here. And if you’re curious you can find the complete Rudimentary Peni discography here.

 

blinko
Pickman’s Model: A Weird Tale by H.P. Lovecraft and illustrated by Nick Blinko.  Originally published by Weird Tales Magazine in 1927, Pickman’s Model is an opulent short short about a deranged artist and the horrifying paintings he creates. Could there be a more perfect story for Blinko to have illustrated?

You can find Nick Blinko’s art on the web at Henry Boxer Gallery, and a rare interview with the artist here.

 

 

 

 

nick-blinko

 

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