Ralph Steadman: For No Good Reason on Nowness.com

If you’re one of the lucky few that can see a landscape or anything period, in a splatter of ink or paint + extend it’s interpretation even further by a line here or a swish there, then you’ll appreciate this excerpt from documentary ‘No Good Reason’ by Charles Paul.  Here you get to see writer Hunter S. Thompson’s Go-To Cartoonist Ralph Steadman explain to Johnny Depp what his creative method is.  Simply put, Steadman says, ‘Slapping a blot down as I begin stimulates the mind to guess + be inventive’.

Steadman best known for his ink-splattered imagery for Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, is thoroughly dissected by filmmaker Paul in this doc covering over four decades of his work ranging from books on Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud + birds, to commissions from Ted Hughes.  It’s great seeing the illustrator create something before our eyes, to finally see the grotesque end result.  Steadman’s style has always reminded me a lot of Francis Bacon’s work, particularly his ‘Meat’ paintings – although it’s full of disturbing imagery, there is still a kind of beauty that comes through quite powerfully.

Paul explains to NOWNESS how Steadman’s work is very deceiving about the artist.  Paul says, ‘On paper, Ralph seemed violent + dangerous, yet in person he is one of the warmest and most generous people I have ever met.’  A film that spans 16years in the making, features Johnny Depp as the perfect narrator, having had a long standing relationship with Steadman, after crossing paths through Thompson.  ’Johnny instinctively knew what to ask Ralph about. A chemistry existed between them, making it a natural dynamic to film, ” says Paul.  And how great is the end of the excerpt, showing the artist’s signature – perfect film still right there?!



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