Words by Thomas Hannah
It’s only fitting that for Gonzo journalism’s 50th anniversary this month we talk about one half of its founding fathers – Ralph Steadman.
At first glance, the Welsh ‘scout boy’ & his partner-in-actual-crime & ‘former Hells Angel’ Hunter S. Thompson must have seemed an unlikely couple but after Thompson personally requested Steadman to find the “Kentucky face” for what was to be their 1970 debut article & birth of GONZO; ‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent & Depraved’, dubbed “a brutal failure” by Thompson and “a journalistic breakthrough” by critics and peers. The pair’s chemistry appeared undeniable from the outset and seemingly unbreakable until Thompson untimely death in 2005.
From the 1971 counterculture classic ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream’, to the pair’s critic and revulsion of politics and mainstream media amongst the Richard Nixon campaign and eventual reelection in ‘Fear & Loathing on the Campaign trail 72’, along with the likes of ‘The Curse of Lono’ in 83′ and ‘The Fire in the Nuts’ in 04′ their partnership had something of a Richards/Jagger genius, with both artists complimenting and propelling each other with equal velocity – whether it be Richard’s Telecaster on ‘Satisfaction’ or Steadman’s ink in ‘Fear & Loathing’ something magic is seared into the heads of the audience and like all great art that captures a broad consciousness, you never stumble to see it or hear it when afar or recognise and put a face to it when up close.
The ever ‘savage satirist’ Steadman has been sharpening his political teeth & refining his artistic craft for over five decades, covering topics from Leonardo Da Vinci & Sigmund Freud to wine & whisky, cats & dogs, extinct birds & Alice in Wonderland.
So with his feature in FLUORESCENT SMOGG’s ‘The Chambers Project’, a virtual gallery featuring a collection of the world’s finest abstract and psychedelic art, running until July 6th and his highly anticipated retrospective ‘Ralph Steadman: A Life in Ink’ expected this October, this Welsh scout boy sure has no signs of slowing anytime soon.
To see work such as ‘Dr Gonzo’ a bronze sculpture of Steadman’s ‘Raoul Duke’ from ‘Fear & Loathing’, to his Orwellian collaboration with the Arizonian contemporary abstract painter Mars1 ‘Dystopia with a Glimmer of Hope’ click here.
Also, be sure to have ‘A Life in Ink’ on your wish list for this October!