An L.H. Grey/Richard Charles Stevens Dark Fusion
Nine Inch Nails Underneath the Skin
I’m a horny little devil for the detail. Always have been. People say you need to take a look at the bigger picture once-in-a-while, and I get that to a point, but the wider canvas isn’t always where it’s at as far as my jaded eyes can discern. Indeed, I’ve had more than adequate skinfuls of the bigger picture in moons recently passed to sideline me for several lifetimes and it’s no longer a vista that massively interests me. There’s something about the most miniscule of details that speaks in a thousand twisting tongues to this particular captive audience and that’s precisely how I’ve been since primary introduction to the mind, body, heart and soul of L.H. Grey, with the most explicit willingness I might add.
On December 19th, 2017, Grey and I fused our dark resources for the very first time and the fruit this bared, “The Visitor”, is unquestionably the proudest of all my achievements as a scribe. At that point, I knew barely a thing about her, although one brisk and bracing stroll through her dark corner of Instagram taught me everything I needed to learn in a single heartbeat. Over the past few years, she has bled her exquisite wares within this grotesque gallery and, with almost 300 posts in her stockpile and steadily rising, there’s a veritable treasure trove of diamonds and coal to gorge those senses on. How could I not dive right in? After all, I’d seen her soul shine brightly. Thus I actually knew her intimately already.
My split-second decision was to write this piece from her exclusive perspective; no small feat to undertake, I assure you. This would entail mining deep into the very rock salts within her and I burrowed in without a mini-moment’s dalliance. Then once the Crimson Quill had been sufficiently bled and I read Grey’s own story back to her, I could feel decades of burden drop away from her dainty shoulders in the moment. Quiet screams aren’t easy to discern but hers were ringing loud in my ears that day. See me. Save me. I’m a noble fellow and not one to ignore the raven’s cry, particularly when it perches in our very garden of light. I exhaled Grey’s every sorrow through my weapon of choice by way of “The Visitor” and, while the war still raged on around us, we both knew that this particular battle was over.
So what does this have to do with tiny detail? Well everything and more so actually as it is this breadcrumb trail of truths that can coerce into the deepest soul of an artist. We litter our wake with all manner of clues, often glaring ones, and these fragments form the bigger picture we’re bidding to paint out of us. It matters not the palette we paint from or the tools we use to adorn our canvases. When Italian maestro Dario Argento fashioned Suspiria, and later Inferno, he painted out his most primary nightmares and invited us inside. Inferno in particular effectively snuffed his creative candelabra and likely set Argento back a small fortune in therapy and head meds. Let’s just say he was in it up right beneath the grey matter.
Keeping it unflinchingly real, French actress Isabelle Adjani’s award snatching turn in Andrzej Żuławski’s 1981 masterpiece Possession, took her several years to recover from. Should you ask me to name the single most jarring performance in eighties cinema, then it’s Adjani hands down in the dirt. Indeed, the heart-punching moment within a subway tunnel where she quite literally gushes before us is a scar that I shall forever adorn on her behalf. Once she goes and the quart of milk she is carrying explodes at her feet, the bleed proceeds to taint this white liquid resulting in the ultimate miscarriage of faith. Adjani reflects this through every last droplet of sorrow she sheds. Notably, Żuławski was up to his shattered crown in the gristle of a messy divorce when he birthed this maelstrom of swirling emotion unto the world. Do I digress? No actually this all ties in rather tidily to the topic in hand.
You see, Grey’s heart and soul bleeds out onto canvas with the very same fiery conviction as the aforementioned and does so through a multitude of different guises to boot. Self-portraits are one vessel and are woven through her dark corner like ivy veins (her words thus ours), each one telling its timeless riddle and doing so through the most virtuous of tongues. Often bared but never once to titillate, she is simply laying her beautiful soul naked for all to see. I see, and what’s more, I believe. I trust in the very heart of my soul that this artist has a truly unique gift to bequeath and will sleep with one glaring eye open until I’ve damn well served my fair lady. Or die trying. This is what the Keeper brings to the skirmish. Blood. Reddest. Spartan blood.
While the rivers run red, it may interest you to learn that Grey was actually once a skilled butcher. Let’s just say that she knows how to sort the muscle from cartilage and this would explain her fascination with surgical instruments and the process of autopsy. This also lends to her fascination with the Whitechapel Murders and the leather aproned practitioner of pain whispered fearfully in the shadows as Jack The Ripper. With “The Visitor” now bled, shed and fed, it seemed only right to deliver our backlit dark union to the exhibit case a second time. “The Ripper” is more than underway. Indeed, not a solitary moon passes when she’s not firing up that trailblazing blowtorch of hers in her own sinful studio of the macabre. This Dark Fusion differs markedly from the last as, while her “Ripper” documentation dates back months already, this time it is she doing the weaving and around my most sinistrous of prose.
Take a look at this death note and please allow me to elaborate on why this image now adorns my Facebook banner, scaring off toddlers and coddlers alike. There’s a Grand Guignol quality to her art as the degradation around each frayed edge effectively doubles up as a stage curtain of sorts. Dare we stare into the fiendish frame? Do we have a choice? Not once our wide eyes acclimatize to their new surroundings and are instantly plunged headlong into a less than fresh crime scene in sepia. The victim of whatever monstrosity is being depicted is insistently the centre piece; with everything around her blurring into momentary insignificance. Tentatively we cast our gaze across the subject, from the curious pool drenching her haunch, along the rivulets running up through her lacerated sternum, to the kind of prize we may not be altogether grateful for. The eyes speak most expressively through death and I haven’t been able to erase these creeping peepers from my mental voicemail since I first locked in.
Then we have the death certificate, which will also play a key role to making “The Ripper” highly personal. Grey is meticulous in her research and the stone cold facts supply the most unwelcome dose of reality to proceedings. Mary Jane Kelly – your tragic tale is now being told dear. And this is where we reach another layer of meaning. You see, she and the royal we aren’t keeping these postcards close to our chest with damn good reasoning. By the time our contorted child is delivered from womb to tomb, we’ll all be that much closer to the soul of the piece and will have undertaken this journey in explicit stages. Make no mistake, while the prose her art shall punctuate is brutal to and beyond the extreme, this excursion will be a visual one, first and foremost. And it is our unified desire for creators far and wide to witness this conception in its entirety.
It is with a swell of pride most tremendous that I announce a walk-in gallery of her fine art soon to be bled into these Rivers of Grue. This will be an entirely different exhibition from the regular as irregularity just seems far more appealing. Let’s just say the dark juices are flowing with great purpose and that our best-laid plans are soon to be brought into far crisper focus over the coming weeks. We have the tools at our disposal, the love, light and strength of those who truly see us, and the bloody-hearted passion to drive this vision through and suddenly the darkness feels nowhere near as encroaching. In our dark citadel of conjuring, it is simply fuel for the fire. The very moment either one of us emerges from these savage vaults of ours, our only wish is to bask in the rays of those we glance souls with. Dignity. Kindness. And never ever blindness.
Therefore I implore you to amble through the dark corner of L.H. Grey’s Instagram and see precisely what I see time and again. The Elusive White Rabbit can usually be found bounding the perimeter and it is quite the rabbit hole, believe you me. Furthermore, prepare for these Rivers of Grue to run at their reddest to accommodate our shared vision. Ideas pool like mercury from our constantly fusing nodes and shall continue to do so until such time as we ultimately merge. A little too outlandish perhaps? I prefer the term otherworldly you know. When each subsequent bounce affords greater elevation, imagination need no longer be a station. Each creation, innovation is of honest persuasion, a kindly donation to those who choose to kiss our abrasions. By my estimations, this makes it the right time to slaughter some past demons, butcher-like. Anyone care for seconds?
Imagery by L.H. Grey
Prose by Richard Charles Stevens