Born in 1959, American Artist Jeff Gillette grew up in Detroit watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” TV show. His vision of the ‘Wonderful World’ disintegrated as soon as he visited the California amusement park in 1979 and discovered he detested the place for its artificiality.
Gillette studied art, then spent two years in the Peace Corps in Nepal where he explored India’s Megalopolises and their teeming slums.
"Every year, I try to travel to the most wretched places on earth for inspiration for my art. Besides India, I’ve ventured into favelas, bastis, and shantytowns, experiencing urban blight in North Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Mexico, Bangladesh and my hometown, Detroit. Aside from the seething humanity, the suffering, the unfairness and cruelty of the slum I find a strange beauty. Above the cacophony of filthy debris in oceans of garbage rises a chaotic architecture of depravation, ingenuity and necessity. The experience of that living environment becomes one of aesthetic wonder, a spectacle of color, form and texture. These images I recreate in the all-too-realism of my ‘slumscape’ artwork, in drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations.”
It has been suggested that Gillette’s work and his 2010 show “Dismayland” was an inspiration for Banksy’s “Dismaland” in 2015. Banksy invited Jeff to show his work in the ‘Bemusement Park’ and bought one of Jeff’s paintings to be used for the Dismaland Poster.
Jeff continues showing his “Worst Case Scenario” landscapes and working from his Orange County studio within earshot of the nightly Disneyland Fireworks show.
Want to learn more about Jeff Gillette?
Jeff Gillette: The man who “Banksied” Banksy – and how!
The Wonderful World of Jeff Gillette ~ Celebrating Slums and Taking Aim at Glass Castles
Turning the Concept of Disneyland on Its Head - Jeff GIllette in an Interview