The Bloody Mary Prophecies | Chris de Souza Jensen

When the Danish, Malta-based graffiti and mural artist Chris de Souza Jensen decided to set up his first solo exhibition, he didn’t take the traditional route, and instead of a museum or gallery he’ll be exhibiting at Guy Lee’s Tattoo Parlour from April 6 to May 6. He speaks to us about the ethos behind ‘Tales of the Bloody Mary Oracle’, and what motivates him to keep creating.

'Death's Sales Pitch' by Chris de Souza Jensen.
'Death's Sales Pitch' by Chris de Souza Jensen.

What was the main impetus of this entire exhibition? How do you feel about your debut as a solo artist in a more 'traditional' space?

A new chapter in my life. Where some artists have dived into the solo exhibit format earlier on in their careers, and one sees their progress from each one, I felt the wait was needed, to a point where my style was more developed.

Also, I realised with the old personal paintings I have attempted to finish in my busy schedule was way too difficult, therefore I needed a date and place as a form of motivation to complete old and new things.

Why did you pick this particular venue?

The host, Guy Lee, a member of the Art & Soul Collective, invited me and once I saw the space, it was an immediate yes. A tattoo parlour couldn't mesh better with the type of work I do and the kind of people - I guess - I represent. I am honoured to have gotten the call from a tattooist as renowned as Guy Lee. Everything about this space feels humble and connected.

What would you say unites the exhibition together?

As far as work, it's quite random, hence the random name of the exhibition: 'Tales of the Bloody Mary Oracle'.

The Oracle in question is the main 'mascot' (on poster) and I'm making this as if this weirdo guy is telling his silly tales through the paintings and everything on display. He thinks he has superpowers of insight, but in reality, he's merely a crazy drunk, telling far out tales through what's on display. And if I may just add one last detail: the Bloody Mary Oracle is very real... and if you play your cards right, he might tell you a drunken tale while you're there.

What can we expect from the exhibition's opening night?

To be perfectly honest, I dislike the typical format taken on by artists and venues when they put up exhibitions. I find them boring, and there's always this sense that you have to special to be there, or 'get it' - which to me isn't conducive to revealing the true personality of an artist, or their work. I'm also hoping that a new breed of art enthusiast steps in - one who's of a different class, age and subculture... 

The key word here is FUN. I want people to have fun, feel at ease, and entertained (hell, I need some fun after all these gruelling months setting this up.) 

It's a mixed bag of old and recent mural work I've done here and there, old stuff from days of yore, video processes including some crazy 3D work by Roderick Galea (depicting one of my paintings coming to life), new paintings, some silkscreen stuff and some surprises that I myself may not even be aware of. I have a great crew of people helping me out.

There will be games and competitions, including winning a chance to get tattooed by Guy Lee with a design I can tailor make for you (he'll not be tattooing when you are wasted on premiere night but after - otherwise it we'd be treading on very dangerous territory) to winning an A1-sized poster. Also, lest we forget: there will be some complimentary spicy Bloody Marys.

Chris de Souza Jensen

Chris de Souza Jensen - aka 'Sea Puppy' working on a mural at the Skatepark, Msida

How would you describe your development as an artist - from your early days to where you are right now? What are you most proud of, and have your priorities - both artistically and professionally - changed at all over the years?

There's too much to get into, and I don't want to bore your people here, but let's get simple and not sugar-coat anything. It was tough. It took a lot of practice and hard work to get closer to where I wanted to be. I still have a long way to go, but I'm enjoying the ride, as comedian Bill Hicks would say.

How do you feel about the local art scene at the moment? What excites and/or depresses you about the Maltese scene?

When people say - both foreign and local - "oh, that's good... for Malta", you know we're not on par with the rest of the art world. However, something is brewing very nicely from the younger generation and to be honest, it's only them I have any interest in at the moment, whether it be the comic book-, illustration- or graffiti-heads. Some have stuff already at their young age that's a lot more rich and developed than what is being shown in the galleries at the present.

I really hope Malta is paying attention to the younger artists, otherwise the scene is doomed.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

Learn life drawing from nude models. Learn the rules of perspective and shadows, and how to apply these rules. Dissect why your favourite artists' work is powerful, and think of ways to apply it to your own. Don't jerks under-pay you or try to get work from you for free. Be yourself and then be yourself times a million. Don't bite (steal). Most important of all: stop reading about me and get out there and make some far out art...

'Tales of the Bloody Mary Oracle' is supported by the Malta Arts Fund. The artist would also like to give heartfelt thanks to Guy Lee for his ongoing support with the exhibition