The Bath as a Dream
Text: Cornelia Durka (firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to baths, the ISH in Frankfurt is the trend-setting venue. Here, leading manufacturers present their latest products and show us today what the bath of tomorrow might look like. For form, English graphic designer Andrew Rae gave a free rein to his ideas on the theme of bathing.
Grotesque, yet fascinating and always a little dark is an appropriate description of the scenes which the British illustrator likes to enrich with lab equipment, cables and absurd instruments. "Perverted Science", the title of an event at Club 333 in Shoreditch, London, where Andrew Rae began his career in 1998 designing flyers, is still a fitting description of the major theme of his works. Rae's ability to bind together seemingly unrelated things into narratives particularly comes into its own in his busy scenes. It is not for nothing that his named sources of inspiration are Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel the Elder. His pictured illustration, in formal terms not so dissimilar from Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights", tells the history of bathing. "Well, my version of it," corrects Andrew Rae. The scenery is popu-lated by figures and elements from every channel of information. The river Styx is flowing from the underworld of Greek mythology and Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer of London's sewage system, is standing on its banks. A women in a red bikini is taking a sour shower under a giant version of Philippe Starck's Juicy Salif lemon squeezer. Space tourists float in zero gravity, we can make out Borat, the Kazakh television reporter, in his tasteless, garish green bathing suit and in the central image a gigantic Hummer has landed, with a pool on the loading area, complete with bikini girls, directly from a hip-hop music video. Does Rae personally watch a lot of TV? "Yes. I guess you could say that." He develops associations as he draws: "I start at some point with my theme, and as I draw ideas come to me, then more and more details come and in between I research a bit." Thus the internet is an important source of information for him, as is his collection of old encyclopedias and science books. In his works, Andrew Rae, who studied illustration in Brighton, pairs the laconic humor of his illustrator-colleague David Shrigley with Marcel Dzama's obscure image worlds. With his trusting, somewhat na•ve felt-tip pen-style, Andrew Rae succeeds in producing his extraordinary scenes with wit and irony. His illustrations regularly appear in England in the "Guardian" and other newspapers and magazines, he took on wall designs for Selfridges in London and works for musicians and rec-ord labels. It was as art director of the cartoon series "Monkey Dust" on BBC3 that he became really well known in England. He followed this up with three more animation jobs. He also recently redesigned the entire on air identity for MTV Asia. Andrew Rae enjoys this work, because it follows completely different procedures: Animation means direct teamwork - a welcome change to the solitariness of illustration. This is why Rae also works in a collective of studios called Peepshow Collective in London. There, ten designers work on analog and digital, commercial and free projects with a main focus on illustration and animation. Andrew Rae has just finished a new animation for Channel Four. He developed the trailer for Mesh, a platform for digital and interactive animation created in 2001. A job that seems to be made for him: "Most of my illustrations find their way onto the computer sooner or later. This is why next I would like to do an exhibition with good old-fashioned pictures on the wall."