Two local artists have teamed up with a most unusual abstract painter to create a series of collaborative paintings unseen since the Basquiat, Clemente and Warhol trio.
Toronto-based artists and friends Brent Roe and Scott Cameron, whose professional name is Scotch Camera, joined Pockets Warhol, an accomplished capuchin monkey revered for his Picasso-like painting style, to produce the set of unique paintings that will be on display as part of the Art Pioneers Exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel Art Bar in Toronto until Sept. 26.
Mr. Roe and Mr. Cameron had the pleasure of working alongside the primate prodigy, who lives at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary (alongside Darwin, the Ikea monkey), northeast of Toronto, and has been perfecting his artistic talents for years. Pockets made his debut in 2011 at his first art show at Sadie's Diner on Adelaide Street West, and he has since painted pieces purchased by art collectors around the world. Working with Mr. Roe and Mr. Cameron was Pockets' first time straying from his solo career and working with others. As the artists tell The Globe and Mail, it was quite a success.
Where did you come up with the idea to collaborate with a monkey?
Mr. Cameron: I bought one of Pockets' pieces. We looked up [Story Book Farm] and the website had biographies of all the residents. We found out that a white-capped capuchin monkey painted. My wife and I bought one of his paintings and hung it up on the wall. Everyone that came over said it was amazing. Brent and I decided to do a show with him. We really think he is a great painter. And it's a great cause. All of his money goes to the sanctuary. Halfway through, we decided to do collaborations. Some of our strongest pieces are the ones in which we all worked together.
What has Pockets been able to contribute to your artwork?
Mr. Cameron: His absolute spontaneity and his channelling of the divine spirit. He is always working from the subconscious.
Mr. Roe: At least that is what he wants us to believe.
Mr. Cameron: It's like when a jazz musician gets into a zone. The improvisation zone – Pockets is there already. It's like when Picasso said it took him only years to learn how to paint like Raphael, but it took him his whole life to paint like a child. Pockets is just totally into the paint.
Mr. Roe: Some of the paintings have pieces of straw in them because he painted in the straw and he gets so into it.
What is Pockets like when he is painting?
Mr. Cameron: He gets so excited. He wants to play catch. He's a crazy little guy. He rarely paints around people because he takes a long time to calm down when visitors show up. He loves to paint. He is so prolific.
What kind of emotion does this set of paintings capture?
Mr. Cameron: Humour. Humour definitely belongs in art. And we take that very seriously.
What is Pockets' painting style?
Mr. Roe: He is a classic abstract expressionist.
Mr. Cameron: Abstract expressionist mixed with straw.
Now that you've worked with a monkey, where do you go from here?
Mr. Cameron: We want to do another show with him. He's great.
Mr. Roe: If he's interested, we're interested.
Mr. Cameron: Maybe next we'll tackle the religions of the world.
Mr. Roe: Maybe now everyone will start painting with their pets.