Want to know Alex Turnbull, International DJ, Martial Artist, former British skateboarding champ and International Stussy Tribe member has been up to??
There are few living artists as underappreciated today as Dundee born, William Turnbull. For close to six decades now, he has been creating an artistic body of work, lauded by many of the most artistic minds of the second half of the 20th century — figures such as Eduardo Paolozzi, Mark Rothko, Richard Hamilton, Alberto Giacometti, and Barnett Newman not to mention retrospectives and shows at the Tate, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Waddington Galleries, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries.
As a pioneer of British modernism, Turnbull has aided it’s artistic development over the last 60 years. With a strict adherence to his principles, Turnbull’s work was unique during a period of rampant commercialism in the arts.
Beyond Time, a documentary directed by Alex Turnbull, provides a poignant look at the very private life of the artist as well as an in depth look at one of the least documented periods in art, Post War. For four years, Alex Turnbull and his partner Pete Stern meticulously gathered information, interviewing artists, critics, and curators about Turnbull’s life and work. The end result being a film rich with revealing and fascinating stories about Turnbull and his role in modern art.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Alex Turnbull (DJ, Former British Skateboarding Champ, Martial Artist, Producer) to talk about this father and his first feature film, which premieres this Saturday at LACMA.
Joy Yoon: Before we get started on your father and the film, could you tell me a bit more about yourself?
Alex Turnbull: Early on I was a British skateboarding champ during the early wave of British skateboarders. But from 1980, I was a punk. My friends and I were the first skate punks, and I was in a band called 23 Skidoo. My background is mainly music. We were quite an avant-garde influential music group. We pioneered a lot of the use of cassette looping before sampling with old Sony Walkmans, very influenced by William Burroughs. This was prior to the whole commercialism to music. Commercialism was a dirty word for us.
At first we used conventional instruments and were press darlings, but we did everything to confound that. Shaved our heads, wouldn’t play our albums at the gigs, confounding everyone’s expectations of what the music/ audience relationship was. Every now and then people come back to us, but experimental now is nothing what it was like back then. We used imagery and projections on ourselves, no gaps between songs, we didn’t really care of people liked it or not. It was more about challenging people’s expectations. Now where we’re its only about satisfying the audience.