Author: Alicia Muir

Q&A with Shok-1

Ahead of our highly anticipated release of Shok-1's Thorns, two exclusive and very limited edition 9-layer screenprints based on the iconic freehand X-ray mural piece the artist created in Berlin in 2016, we sat down with the pioneer of aerosol X-ray art to talk about his unique and innovative creative process and his artistic journey and inspirations. 

AR: How did you first become interested in using anatomical X-rays as a medium for your artwork?

Complicated journey. I’ll try to give you a brief version.

I always loved science and technology. For example, I used to solder together my own electronic projects when I was 8 years old. I made a rudimentary stun gun amongst other things! And I was always obsessed with what was inside things, how they worked. Pulling them apart. Understanding them.

When I discovered graffiti in 1984, I was immediately interested in the technical aspects of the medium, thinking of the spray can as a scientific object as much as an artistic one and a tool of rebellion. I wanted to master it, see how far I could push it.

I did all the conventional stuff for decades, became more experimental, and eventually the art and science sides of me came together in my X-ray style. 

 Q&A with Shok-1 | Image
Thorns Pale Bronze by Shok-1
Q&A with Shok-1 | Image

 

AR: What can you tell us about the upcoming limited prints that you are releasing with Art Republic?

The original monochrome Thorns edition of 150 sold out in 11 minutes. These special colour versions are two previously unseen micro editions originally produced for an installation at my first solo show in Tokyo, soon after.

 Q&A with Shok-1 | Image
Detail of Thorns Pale Bronze

 

AR: Can you explain the process of acquiring X-ray images for your artwork? Do you use authentic X-ray imagery, and do you repurpose X-rays from others or capture images of your own?

It depends very much on each picture, they all present different challenges. 

I do shoot my own reference images on authentic medical equipment, which adds layers of meaning. I also have a lot of support from the radiology community, people often send me images.

It’s important to me to strive to make the paintings as accurate as possible. But I’ve also painted series of abstract compositions where the bones are fictionalised, or distorted real X-rays into pop cultural icons like videogame characters.

Q&A with Shok-1 | Image
Thorns Olive by Shok-1
Q&A with Shok-1 | Image

 

AR: In creating a piece that reflects your personal interests, how do you strike a balance between the technical elements involved in capturing and producing X-rays and the artistic aspects that aim to make the work meaningful and impactful?

It can be extremely difficult. My recent mural project in Belfast, I was up until 5-6am a couple of nights working on how to balance the compromises between scientific accuracy, metaphor, a visually compelling picture … A lot of my concepts involve forcing together wildly disparate styles, ideas or fields. Interfacing reality and fiction. They often require a fair bit of lateral thinking to solve.

 

Q&A with Shok-1 | Image
Detail of Thorns Olive

AR: You mentioned that the objects you choose to X-ray have personal meaning to you, can you give an example of a piece you created and the inspiration behind it?

Well, they are usually an analysis of people and society. An idea of truth.

I always have a breadth and depth of meaning in mind by the time I paint a picture. But what I want is for people to make their own interpretations. 

I’ve often thought about the similarities between a doctor interpreting an X-ray on a lightbox and the way we criticise art on a wall. I want the audience to formulate their own diagnosis, as it were.

 

AR: You mentioned that transparency and light are important elements in your work, can you elaborate on that and explain how they impact your final pieces?

I’ve always been interested in light, chiaroscuro … that which is revealed and that which is hidden. 

A traditional X-ray is actually a dull, dark thing. The iconography of it that’s in most of our minds is actually the X-ray viewed on a lightbox. 

You can’t discuss light in the context of Western art without considering its Christian roots. How illumination features in it, and what it represents. But I think much more so about the Enlightenment, the scientific method, how we push back the boundaries of understanding … I think it’s never more relevant than now in this so-called Post-Truth era.

Transparency, aesthetically, can be delicate and beautiful. But it can also imply revealing difficult or painful truths. I think to know the truth is beautiful, even if it’s ugly at the same time.

This is a very rare opportunity to access works from Shok-1's archive - head to his artist page here now to get your hands on a print of this iconic image. 

NEW RELEASES

Off You Pop by Louise Nordh
Exclusive
Off You Pop £95

Louise Nordh

35 x 35cm

Limited edition of 30

Inside Mickey's Heart from £150

Angel London

Various sizes

Navy Boy £175

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 25

I Will Bite from £135

Mathilda Mai

Various sizes

Italian Summer by SODA
Exclusive
Italian Summer £125

SODA

42 x 29.7cm

Limited edition of 40

Let's Get It On £595

Linda Charles

56 x 76cm

Limited edition of 45

Wash the Blues Away by Charlie Haydn Taylor
Exclusive
Wash the Blues Away from £150

Charlie Haydn Taylor

Various sizes

Inhale £175

Joe Webb

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 30

Roarsome - Green by And Wot
Exclusive
Roarsome - Green £195

And Wot

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 2

Fresh £200

Hannah Adamaszek

60 x 75.5cm

Limited edition of 15

Destroy the Patriarchy Not the Planet (Mini) £400

Hannah Shillito

27.9 x 21cm

Limited edition of 20

Scratchin' Cats (Blue) £150

The Cameron Twins

33 x 36cm

Limited edition of 20

Fast Dog £95

Gavin Dobson

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 100

Pangolin - Framed by Lisa Lloyd
Ready To Hang
Pangolin - Framed £150 £130

Lisa Lloyd

44 x 44cm

Limited edition of 50

In The Sky With Stars £195

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

70 x 100cm

Limited edition of 16

Meet Me in Matisse's Garden - Framed by Benjamin Thomas Taylor
Ready To Hang
Meet Me in Matisse's Garden - Framed £275 £255

Benjamin Thomas Taylor

56 x 76cm

Limited edition of 25

Gamebuoy by Nick Chaffe
Exclusive
Gamebuoy £100

Nick Chaffe

29.7 x 42cm

Limited edition of 50

Seascape W £300

Newton Blades

50 x 30cm

Limited edition of 100

Space Cadet - Magma by RYCA
Exclusive
Space Cadet - Magma £180

RYCA

13 x 26cm

Limited edition of 12

Attitude - Framed by Sara Pope
Ready To Hang
Attitude - Framed £110

Sara Pope

33.5 x 33.5cm

Limited edition of 100

Ley Lines £450

Maxine Gregson

100 x 50cm

Limited edition of 250

'Amazing' Shell - Framed by Charlie Evaristo-Boyce
Ready To Hang
'Amazing' Shell - Framed £125 £113

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

54 x 20cm

Limited edition of 50

What's That Then by Nick Chaffe
Ready To Hang
What's That Then £400

Nick Chaffe

27.8 x 54.8cm

Limited edition of 5

Les Oiseaux - Artist Proof £295

Epi

42 x 29.7cm

Limited edition of 50

See You Later Alligator! £550

The Cameron Twins

51 x 72cm

Limited edition of 10

The Olive Branch (Azzuro) £2,500

Magnus Gjoen

95 x 120cm

Limited edition of 3

Down The Rabbit Hole... by Mark Petty
Ready To Hang
Down The Rabbit Hole... £295

Mark Petty

27 x 37cm

Limited edition of 50

AZUL Mini £125

Florence Blanchard

40 x 40cm

Limited edition of 25

Blue Sway £170

Angus Vasili

59.4 x 84.1cm

Limited edition of 8

Made You Look - Neon Pink A4 £40

Heath Kane

21 x 29.7cm

Limited edition of 20