You might say there are two kinds of artists. The ones who spend their whole lives working on a specific question or a style, and those who blow apart all too soon, in mid-flight – in which case, picking up the pieces calls for an atlas and a good GPS. The map shows the great Winshluss deflagration saturating a territory extending from sculpture to drawing, from comics to the movies, from art-ifacts to joint creation of a supermarket. The fragmentation’s there in his drawing, too: a mishmash of styles, colour work and references adding up to a brilliant global demolition job. You’re tempted to acclaim him as the prince of pastiche – a sampling whiz – and leave it at that. But there’s still a lurking, sardonic something…
While his scathing line foregrounds black humour, irony and withering cynicism, there’s also a background buzz that can’t be ignored. Winshluss Art is a gallery of rejects, defectives, reprobates, parasites, radiation victims, has-beens, halfwits and losers. They’re violent, relentlessly bent on staying alive and invariably naive, even when utterly perverse. But there’s one realm where their marginal humanity rules supreme: junk. The junk dealer, the black economy, scrap, trafficking, stolen goods, shady deals, car cemeteries, old iron. Winshluss is to finance what antifreeze is to cooking oil, but his junk culture keeps the wheels turning for his outsiders. And he’s got class: that culture is implicit in his line, genres and references, and in styles whose interlocking dispenses with speech bubbles.
Obviously there was a place for Pinocchio on this netherworld Olympus from the very start. Out of respect for the purest junk tradition, of course, he’s not made of wood: the bodywork is Z series robot, all tin and rivets that gleam better in the light of Hades. Collodi’s puppet has morphed into a misfit, a stateless discard, a member of that 19th-century community birthed in the ditches of nation-building, industrialisation and capitalism; the embodiment of people written off in their time as the underclass and destined for the apocalyptic end we all know about. It was by a curious quirk of history that between 1939-44 Benito Jacovitti turned out the first comic-book version of the story – with no bubbles, since the censor didn’t allow them. Winshluss’s Pinocchio is speechless too, in this graphic novel with no bubbles, or almost: the coveted chatterbox role falls to Jiminy, his conscience, back from Disneyland dressed as a cockroach and living as a parasite on Pinocchio’s mechanical brain.
Pinocchio’s silence versus the chatterings of conscience: a face-off that typifies the Winshluss spirit. If ever our artist decided to do Melville’s Moby Dick, you can bet Ishmael would come out Shitmail.