Self-interview with selfie – Liam McDonald, artist

We copyrighted the idea in 2012. The concept is simple. We identify emerging creatives, interesting people who we believe will be captivating to read about. We invite people to interview themselves and to take a selfie. The self-interview with selfie was inspired by an empirical tool specifically for use in memory studies research. Our idea was developed to overcome some of the practical limitations of one-to-one interviews and address a new type of journalism. We ask queer creatives & interesting people to interview themselves. The manner can be through storytelling, diary-keeping, questions, images, sound, or any other meaning of representation. We believe it is interesting what our guests wanna tell people about themselves avoiding the intrusion by another person. Today we invited Liam McDonald.

DRUGS, SEX, AND FAME – British Artist Liam McDonald

Photo: Liam McDonald

Liam’s primarily autobiographical artwork explores dark and disturbing themes. For example, his most famous exhibition that created momentum “MOTHER” was his personal experience growing up in the chaos of living with his alcoholic mother. Displaying her rotted teeth, her doctor notes, and brutally harsh large scale paintings; a later exhibition exposing his sexual diseases, heartbreak, drugs and sex clubs.

How does it feel to be known for putting your life on public display through art?

Sadly, horrible. I have caved myself, if not destroyed. Yet freeing, I am in a situation no one else is in. Allowing the audience to look into each part of my life means everyone knows everything about me, yet I know nothing about them. I wanted to be completely transparent, to live my life completely differently from other people. My work allows others to see my secrets, exposing my vulnerabilities. I no longer have anything to hide; I am a free man. But what comes with that is pain, distress and a negative reputation. My work makes people feel uncomfortable because of how open it is. I expose everything to the whole world; normal people wouldn’t even tell their closest friends.

Courtesy of Liam McDonald

Is Liam Stonier McDonald reckless? 

I fully acknowledge I have a bad reputation. I also understand I have caused a lot of upset in the art world. I have done some questionable things. The world has no sympathy; nothing I say will change people’s opinions of me. 

I am known for being a mess: drugs, reckless sex, sexual diseases, alcohol. My artwork is frank; candid. It is all out there, and I’m known for it. But the reality is, I fell into the art world young and for all the wrong reasons. However, despite how I am spoken about or written about, I am not as reckless as people think. I’m highly educated and extremely business-minded – hence the money I have made from my art and the international recognition. 

Therefore I think I’m the opposite of reckless – I managed to do what others couldn’t. Call my reputation reckless, sure. But for me as a person? – No.

It’s up to you to find out I have nothing to prove to anyone. If people chose to read the negative reviews and believe them, that is on them. 

Do you think your artwork is dark?

I don’t think so. To the human eye, it is ugly. The subject matter is difficult to grasp, and a lot of people find my work controversial. However, I still wouldn’t call it dark. To me, it is beautiful, honest and pure; it is my life story. My artwork is myself handing over my diary for you to read. Don’t call it dark, that’s offensive; my life isn’t dark, it’s just different to yours. 

No, my artwork isn’t a Renaissance painting. However, it is a heartfelt cry for help. Most people go through what I have. We all have emotions, we all have a past. That is why the audiences connect themselves to my art. I don’t understand why journalists are so fast to judge. They want to exploit me because they believe I have given them the right too: for being so frank. No one knows what happens behind the scenes; I paint what I paint to escape. Not to be villainized. 

Courtesy of Liam McDonald

Why does the queer art movement dislike you so much?

My artwork exposes the one thing the gay community tries to hide from the public.

We have a tragic illness in the gay community, and it is called Chem-sex. Purposely taking drugs to get paralytic so they can get fucked unconsciously. (anonymously) I took part in this for a long time. – My friends did meth, and I would do lots of cocaine. We would sleep with strangers in sex clubs, catch sexual diseases and pass them on to other people. It is a known fetish game in the gay community that artists hate to acknowledge. They want beautiful boys kissing, ‘love wins’; hand in hand, a beautiful fairy tale to paint. 

But the truth is, the gay community has never been a fairy tale and will never be beautiful.

I would go to a chem-sex party and draw what I see, and exhibit the truth about the gay community. I cried for your attention (2020) is one of many of my charcoal drawings. They can be excruciating to view. In recent drawings, I put my first heartbreak at the forefront. Book papers, with self-portraits of certain situations whilst dealing with a broken heart. There are depictions of my paralytic reclining figure, exploiting myself through the taboo underground gay sex scene. “They were on drugs and they wouldn’t get off me” written across one drawing, another says “I want to go home”. Reflecting my thoughts whilst participating in sexual group acts surrounded by heavy drugs with strangers, my inner pain and loneliness are laid bare for all to see.

That’s why they hate me: I am not afraid to speak the truth. “

Your artwork seems to be lonely, more than ever, are you?

I am. I have been for a long time. I have struggled to make friends my whole life. But, I don’t think I’m very likeable. It’s gotten to the point I cry myself to sleep. Forget money, fame, or exhibition success. Behind the scenes, I am very lonely. Every friend I have made, try`s to have sex with me – or uses me for sex. I get verbally and physically abused by my friends. Most fuck me hopelessly as I lay back and cry inside. It is so painful coming home alone, or watching people have fun without me.

 I live in a magical city, I am surrounded by love, kindness and beauty. Yet, none of it is for me. I can see it, but I can barely feel it. I drift around the city on my own and watch those around me, enjoying the fresh air together. I also enjoy the fresh air but from a cold distance. 

I am an alone wolf sometimes, embarrassingly I beg people for a friendship. Hoping they will invite me out with them, they never do. Sadly, I’ve come to terms with the fact, I’m just meant to be alone. But then again, I’m an artist. We are meant to be alone, all of us. As an artist, I hide away in a studio, get drunk on my own, cry and paint for months on end. Artists don’t socialise, we hideaway. But recently over the lockdown, I’ve done nothing but beg for love. 

I wish I had friends. But most importantly, I wish I liked myself. 

Courtesy of Liam McDonald

Liam Stonier McDonald is a British autobiographical artist born in 1995.

Instagram: @liamstoniermcdonald


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