D. Filis describes himself as a corner dweller, as someone who is observing life from twilight of punk music venues. If you’ve been in the Hairy Dog recently you’ve probably seen him, for D.Filis is the art creating alter-ego of Phil Burgess, the in-house promoter of the music venue.
You may have noticed him doodling away while he sorts your ticket then breaks briefly from the vibrantly coloured pictures in front of him to scrawl on the back of your hand. For most of this art is created as Burgess works the ticket desk and attends to the needs of the bands passing through the venue,
In describing his work D. Filis writes: “My pictures are truthful while being littered with lies, but lies that are often quite truthful. Living pictures which are dead inside, these pictures will die, they will decompose and fade and become a shadow of their former selves. This is life, take a look before you lose sight of it.”
The pictures, mainly rendered in highlighter and pen on notepaper and guest lists, cover a range of subjects from psychedelic takes on landscapes to surreal and sometimes cynical comments on the world, as well as introspective explorations and unapologetic observations. The first collection of D.Filis‘ work has now been self-published in a 48-page fanzine, titled Shit Art.
In the foreword for the booklet Joanna Leah Geldard writes: “This is an honest Fanzine where his perceptions are the idea of punk before other political and social agendas, which we all know are the decoys of perception for the sake of the capital, co-opted ‘punk’ into a style convention.
“The Gonzo element in Filis’ images, popularised by Hunter S. Thompson, critiques the dark happening of social stylisation inside beautiful people. In between cultures, countercultures and subcultures are more visible these days, yet they are too frequently reduced down into easy to read spectacular representations.
“Filis bubbles beneath the surface, almost frothing with a naive and playful contempt to pen his personal culture in kinetic energy that rejects objectivity.”
Across the pages are the abstract and vibrant splatter explosion of The Pit of Eternal Sadness Pt.1 and the diagram-like representation of light hitting the optic nerve in Eye Strain. The sense of isolation and loss of hope is juxtaposed with the colours and lines throughout the Depression triptych, while elsewhere there is a biting wit, occasionally bordering on the uncomfortably grotesque such as in Behind the Mask.
But these are more than images; they are punches pulled in a fight against an internal sadness and weariness at the state of the world. They are blooms of brightness born in the darkness of venues, garish and visceral as newborn pieces but slowly fading as time and the light impress upon them.
Each piece is a comment in itself but as a collection the book stands as a punk statement and observation on all the life that passes through those doors, crosses that stage and is out in the world beyond.