THE COVERT ARTIST WHOSE NOTORIOUS MEME MURALS HAVE THE WORLD’S ATTENTION.
Even if his name doesn’t ring any bells for a lot of Australians, most will have seen this anonymous street artist’s work. There was the in-memoriam Taylor Swift mural, following her brutal Kim Kardashian feud, the naked Donald Trump, oversized in every sense, and the tribute to Harambe, the late Cincinnati Zoo gorilla. Then he painted Hillary Clinton in a star-spangled bikini and shit hit the fan. People labelled him misogynistic and sexist – and even his Instagram account was suspended. His response: to paint over Mrs Clinton’s modesty with a burqa, then start a new Instagram account.
GQ: How did the Hillary piece come about? Lush Sux: It was just a funny meme getting around the internet. I’d already done Bernie and Trump, and people had fun with them – so it’s only fair I did Hillary as well. But once I put it up, it became a real issue with people thinking it’s sexist. GQ: Did the backlash surprise you?
LS: I didn’t think it would have gone so far, but Instagram suspended my account, for reasons unknown. I’d painted Donald Trump numerous times – you could see his ‘wang’ and no one complained at all – but as soon as I drew Hillary, all of a sudden it’s the worst thing in the world. It was on the verge of becoming viral and they just exposed it even further.
GQ: Do you really think the Hillary piece got you booted off Instagram? LS: Hillary was posted the day before [I got suspended], and the Democratic National Convention was going on. They were really cracking down on meme accounts around that time, which is a bit suspicious. But it’s just a conspiracy theory. Who knows? GQ: You’ve done a lot of US election stuff. Does politics make for good street art? LS: Trump, Hillary and Bernie – they’re all living memes. Everything they say or do can be turned into a joke. GQ: Is it tricky to find spots for your art?
LS: It’s quite easy to get a wall in Melbourne – people love graffiti here. Even if you do it illegally, generally they’re pretty stoked that you went there and bothered. People come up and give you beer and have a chat. In Sydney, even if you have permission for the wall, people are still going to come up and give you bad vibes about it. GQ: You were involved in Banksy’s ‘bemusement park’ exhibition, Dismaland, in England last year. How did that come about? LS: I’ve known Banksy’s underlings and people that do things with him for about 10 years. GQ: So they reached out to you? LS: Yeah. I’ve spoken to him before and he likes my stuff. GQ: Have you met him? LS: It’s better not to talk about that shit. GQ: Fair enough. Even Angelina Jolie collects Banksys now. Are you worried about getting overexposed? LS: No way. Banksy sells paintings for $350,000. Overexposure is a myth. And these people who are critical of him aren’t buying the work, so who cares? For more of Lush Sux, you can follow him on Instagram @Lushsux2. At least until he’s suspended again.
A SELECTION OF LUSH SUX WORKS, INCLUDING THE HILLARY CLINTON PIECE.