Le Gun, the irreverent illustrative art collective, are back in the publishing game. “Brace yourselves!” says its Kickstarter (which fulfilled its campaign thanks to 300 backers). “After a sojourn in the wilderness the time has come for a new issue of Le Gun to rise like an ink-stained phoenix from the cultural miasma.” To celebrate the collective’s success and upcoming new issue, which will again feature submissions “from anybody, anywhere”, It’s Nice That caught up with the collective to find out where they have been and what’s coming next…
You’re back! Where have you been and what have you been up to?
Since our last issue came out in 2011 we’ve mainly worked on installations and various exhibitions all over the place.
Our Unknown Room for Art Brussels went on tour to galleries in Berlin and London. We built a mis-remembered ambulance for a post apocalyptic group show at the V&A, and made a series of giant sculpted heads in Beijing. We went on stage adventures exhibiting in Norway, Turkey, Malta, Macedonia, Holland, Japan and Sweden. In Paris we created the macabre last supper of a (entirely fictional) surrealist splinter group who worshipped the black squid for its ink. We stocked Shakespeare & Co’s antiquary with fake, hand-painted books, and built the world’s smallest bar, Le Club des Cornichons, at the historic Café de Flare. Last summer, we constructed The Temple of Perpetual Myth as part of the Utopia season at Somerset House, and did a bit of set design for the Museum of London.
In our eternal quest to pay the rent we’ve also taken on various commercial commissions over the years for clients such as hotels, beer festivals, Japanese chocolatiers and most recently an independent music chain and an international menswear brand.
Some of us have reproduced as well.
What made you decide to come back now after your hiatus?
As a publication, Le Gun has never been overtly political. As people, we have long been very unhappy with the political state of affairs, particularly the apparent re-emergence of populist fascism. Since we’d decided we would take a break from exhibiting as Le Gun, we thought it might be time to use the platform we have to take a bit more of a stand.
At times like this, drawing is a powerful medium. We are big fans of the German satirical weekly Simplicissimus, and French anarchist magazine, L’Assiette Au Beurre, both of which were started in the late 19th century. Each issue was entirely drawn and given to a different artist each week to respond to events of the time. Another big influence is Raw, Art Spiegelman’s comic and graphic art magazine which was made in the eighties in the shadow of Ronald Regan. Drawing is a powerful way to get ideas across, there’s a lineage of great inkers we admire who have reflected and dissected their times, like Audrey Beardsley, George Grosz, Tomi Ungerer and Robert Crumb.
It is well known you all met at the Royal College of Art, what do you think attracted you to each other’s work?
We definitely share a love of narrative art, a powerful urge to draw, and a love of alcohol. Perhaps we are most interested in work that is unapologetically true to itself, irrespective of trends or perceived commercial appeal. And there is probably a shared mentality that it’s the work you must take seriously, rather than yourself.
The theme for this issue is A World Gone Mad – why do you think the world has lost its mind?
In a world gone mad we find ourselves pitted against each other, crippled and confused by opposing forces. Greed seems to be the order of the day, and the world seems to have gone backwards in its thinking. Clowns and jokers in positions of power and influence, getting away with ludicrously immoral schemes, not least thanks to a blatantly self serving press. We’re hoping the youth will turn out in force and boot them out.
What have you each contributed to the new issue?
The new issue is yet to be made! We usually get a lot of superb submissions, which makes editing every issue very exciting. But because there are seven of us, editing can also be a hair-raising and perplexing process. Everyone contributes in their own way. There is no hierarchy, so it can be chaotic – but we get there somehow.
At this point, we really just want to get issue six made, it should be out by the end of the year. The dream as always is that we manage it all without killing ourselves or each other. After that we may try and make an inflatable Le Gun funfair, or finally release that triple gatefold prog space rock LP.
You can pre-order the next issue of Le Gun here.
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