Her name was Fabulous. She stood poised on a seashell with voluptuous, sensual curves, towering tight golden curls that billowed in the wind, a seductive expression of pleasure and anguish and four long, smooth, radiant arms and legs. She was so alluring and kind of creepy. But also hilarious.
It is by my acquaintance with The Birth of Fabulous that I met and spoke with artist Kirk Reinert. Specializing in the genres of fantasy, horror, and science fiction, Reinert creates fantastically imaginative characters and settings in a way that makes them seem real.
Reinert has showcased two strains of work: what he deems “Reality” and “Fantasy.” The former features depictions of dramatic and raunchily expressive humanistic bugs, namely Ida the Spider (who posed as Fabulous), whose backgrounds are weaved into the history of the early 1900s to the Jazz Age. Like his characters, Reinert is expressive, fun, and intertwined with the supernatural and fantastical.
Art Parasites: How did you conceive of Ida the Spider?
Kirk Reinert: Ida was inspired by music. I met a band up in Woodstock, NY, the 5 Points Band, and they had a real old-timey, jazzy vibe but had a real dark side. We decided to work on a project together and they wrote a song called “Ida the Spider.” I’ve always been inspired from this time period of all the honky-tonks, and saloons, and brothels, and speakeasies, and the characters that live in the underbelly of cities that live beyond society and beyond the law. I took that vibe and matched the music and I came up with this character and they used it for the album cover.
APs: What did they think of the album cover?
KR: This is always what I get from Ida. When I first showed them the original painting, the girl who’s in the band looked at it and said, “She’s really creepy. But I want to fuck her.” I said, “That’s exactly what I was going for.” So I keep that statement in my mind with all these pieces. I like the double-takes.
APs: So you’re going for shock value, creepiness?
KR: I like in the same breath: if I could creep someone out and make them laugh in the same instant, then that’s a good day for me. I like the 1-2-punch, when someone doesn’t know how to react. Even though they’re cartoony in essence, I try to make them believable. I like them to double-check their reality when they’re looking at something and get a kick out of it.
Reinert produces the latter strain of his work, “Fantasy,” in collaboration with artist/healer Lilli Farrell. This style of work is popular in Japan, where it tours exclusively, featuring spiritual and ethereal female figures and animals in vivid extraordinary settings.
APs: Tell me about your collaboration with Lilli Farrell.
KR: We collaborate on ideas. She’s a healer. She’s the real deal; she used to scare the hell out of her parents when she was a kid. She knew things could touch people. We started working together and during my first tour in Japan, I started getting people coming up to my translator telling me, “I saw this piece and I felt this light. And I used to have a heart problem and my doctor doesn’t know why I don’t have it anymore.” After six different cities, the same kind of story was everywhere. They call my paintings “Healing Art” in Japan.
Reinert also mentions he is a huge classic-horror film fan. I ask what he thinks of the Paranormal Activity series (he says the movies don’t scare him), but the topic leads to stories of his own encounters with the paranormal.
KR: I used to see ghosts when I was a kid, every once in a while.
APs: Were you in an old house?
KR: Yeah, my grandmother’s house – it really creeped us out. There was just a lot of weird energy. I used to be scared of looking in the mirror because I’d think I would see some old lady with really dry hair and long fingernails; something with teeth and skeletons. And my brother felt the same way. There was something going on.
Sometimes I used to have these strange dreams where I’d wake up and I couldn’t breathe. I’d be so afraid and I’d see things in my room. And I just realized, “Of course when you’re afraid, the essence of fear rises up, and no matter what you’re looking at when you’re in that state, you’re going to be afraid of it until it leaves.” One time, I realized I actually saw fear. Someone who was staying at my house was having a nightmare downstairs. I don’t know if I was tapping into it or what – but instead of having that reflex of being afraid, I asked, “Who are you?” or “What is it?” I got up and I saw some guy that was about ten feet tall, standing in my hallway, with dreadlocks that turned into metallic coils. His lips were sewn together. His eyes were sewn together, like a shrunken head. I just thought, “Who are you? You’d come a long way, baby.” I drew him, before the image left my mind.
Article by Maggie Wong
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