G-Anders known to some as Ouch and to others as Glen Anderson is an artist who style covers many disciplines. You can see his old worked dotted around the city, from metal shutters covered in bright contrasting colour explosions cut by geometric lines to landscape pieces that draw you into the hidden levels on canvases provided by many clubs and bars. His spray paint work creates optical illusions and every time you examine his work you find another character, creature or facial feature lurking in the depths of his paintings.
With bold colours, abstract patterns and strong lines being characteristics of G-Anders pieces, gradually his work has outgrown the normality of two dimensions and this willingness to push himself forward and find new avenues of creativity has led to the natural progression of 3D builds. However, it doesn’t just end with a build; he takes his creations and offers them to the powerful force of fire. His transition into 3D builds has allowed him to travel the festival scene across the UK and Europe. The building, showcasing then reducing his artwork to cinders and ash.
We linked up with him at The Rainbow Arena, the perfect setting under the imposing Victorian viaducts to spend the day putting the finishing touches to the structures he had created. To accompany the figures Glen also painted large messages on the walls behind. We had heard rumours Digbeth was a smokeless area, so decided to wait till the sun had set for the cover of darkness and to avoid sending out a smoke signal across the city. Firstly we were introduced to the male build, a figure that had been built especially to burn on the day, a martyr to the cause. This figure was created in a matter of weeks, unlike the female form who’s been in his possession for some years. She had been built with great precision and attention to detail. Her shape, posture right down to the unique individual pattern donned on each piece of the jigsaw, gave her a personality not expected from a wooden structure.
So tell us about this one. Is it Richard and Ruth?
No this one is like an Adam and Eve. It’s the masculine and feminine really. I don’t really want to spoil anything by talking too much about what it is. I want the image to say what it is. A man is burning, and the woman is still standing. But the quote, the lyrics I’ve used, “it’s still vibrating, hence why I paint it on the wall” and then the Ruth is stranger than Richard, I borrowed an album off Kosmic the other day. I just thought I’d change the words a little bit. Ruth is equally as strange as Richard. Richard has to burn.
How did you get into 3D work?
It’s just basically what keeps you interested, paint, draw. For me, it’s the 3D world, to touch, feel, that tactile hand around something and basically just boshing together some basic, simple effigies that allowed me to experience something that I wanted to experience and to keep me entertained. You’re not entertained when you’re painting 2D stuff, it can be miserable man on deep levels. So to keep yourself within that, I organically drifted into 3D stuff. I suppose the loss of my best friend, coming up to nine years ago really. I thought about it and it was the sort of transition from 2D to 3D. Long story short, you know flexing some 3D muscle at Shambala man alone and it worked, seeing people like moths to the moon or some shit.
As you mention, you’ve done a lot of larger burns for festivals in the past do you enjoy bigger builds?
I think big is more impressive. I think just by doing big ones it’s allowed me to understand how to build smaller ones. There’s a method within the madness. The softwoods, hardwoods, you know, joints. I don’t know man, whatever, big, small.
How do you approach a build differently to a painting?
It just kind of magically happens. If you’re into something, you’re naturally going to explore those angles for them reasons. You might ponder something once then you’ll attack things quickly in a space of a couple of weeks. It’s just constantly adding subtracting and learning but most of all, just keep producing no matter what it is. And just that urge… sometimes it dies down a bit and sometimes it illuminates. I was building a head last year to do a burn in Amsterdam and I kind of thought it would be my last burn for a while through various reasons and it just so happens that you start building a hand. A hand leads to an arm, which in turn leads to this. So it just happens. It just appears.
Let’s talk about your other work. You use a lot of animals, especially in paintings.
I’ve been thinking a little bit about the African element to it, it’s just more the salvaged, recycled, good intention with whatever you’re using. So you know from things that are kind of contrast, but work if they’re placed with good and solid intention.
It’s the same with the colours you use as well it just always seems to work.
Don’t be afraid man. Through loads of trial and error and still constantly in the background you learn man, you learn from yourself. It’s just booming everywhere. It’s just having your eyes open.
I know you through graffiti, through knowing the same sort of people; would you say you’ve moved away from that world a little?
Well I’d never really call myself a graffiti artist. I weren’t really kicking about in the 80’s and I feel like in my head, that’s the certificate. So I’m sort of like post looking at graffiti artists, picking up the same kind of tools. But I’m a different generation; I’m not about following people. I respect people, I don’t give a fuck. I’ll walk along till the end. Just we were born alone and we’ll fucking die alone. If you don’t speak your mind or do your thing without trying to be fucking all punk and that, then what the fuck are you doing… you’re just spinning bullshit and it’s pointless. So my journey is just trying to feel at ease with myself through feeling at ease with myself, trying to find some solidity in that.
Birmingham art scene, what’s your view on that?
Next question. No, I don’t know. Just reveal yourselves. Get yourselves out there man and don’t fucking follow. Just don’t follow. Appreciate and take it in. You’ve got your name for a reason; you’ve got your fingerprint for a reason. Show us that.
Is there anybody that excites you at the moment in Birmingham? Or an artist you have taken inspiration from?
Zuki, man, for me is a massive one. Like what the fuck is going on there? But as a young kid, it’s lines, man. Colour, format. Zuki is the king, and I’ve said that several times to him and spent a lot of time with him as well. He’s the man for me.