Melbourne artist Xtian was conceived in East Germany but born in Hungary – that makes him one part Australian and two parts former communist.
He’s been actively collaging for two-plus decades – but is not adverse to making music or short animations. His works can best be described as questions, or “edge of comprehension”. He has exhibited and been published both locally and overseas – most recently by Oyster Moon Press’ Hydrolith 2: Surrealist Research & Investigations.
He is also one half of the now ten-year-old – and still growing! – exquisite corpse project The Infinite Collage (close to 80m long!), and is the creator of the longest-running surreal collage comic series The Micturating Angel.
Xtian is the founder of Melbourne Kollage Ultra, and a contributing member of a number of other collage groups.
(Before you proceed: the images are an extract from a much larger work.)
“…too arty for comic book lovers, too comic booky for art lovers…”
Do you like comics? So do I. Marvel? Hell no! Okay, we’re gonna be friends then.
This is not an “artist statement” – that will come some other time. This is an introduction to “The Micturating Angel”. A spiel. A sales-pitch. But not an explanation – maybe an excuse? A necessary use of words to explain images that have already said all they can?
Do you like comics? I mean REAL comics, like Charles Burns’ stuff, or Druillet’s or Kago Shintaro or Nihei Tsutomu? Or “The Sandman” series by Neil Gaiman?
But what about weird stuff by the original Surrealists and the Dadas? Are you familiar with Max Ernst’s collage novels or Gilliam’s animations from Monty Python? What about free jazz, avant-garde music and the writings of William Burroughs? The (good) films of David Lynch? Those books from the 90s put out by V. Vale, the “REsearch” books? Are you familiar with the æsthetics of early industrial music culture or with the visuals of punk underground collages and photocopy art?
Am I laying this on too thick?
You wanted a statement, an introduction, so a schooling you’re gonna get, son.
Right. We’ve established the basics, so meet “The Micturating Angel”, the “Naked Lunch” of comic books! I unashamedly call it a comic, ‘graphic novels’ are for pretentious twats. But its a comic with a fatal flaw: too arty for comic book lovers, too comic booky for art lovers – where do you draw the line?
Why even draw it? (And why even draw a comic in the first place?)
I grew up in Eastern Europe, pre-Fall-of-Communism, so my background is a little different from yours. I read mostly French comics translated into Magyar, I read nonsense literature from Germany and local writers and science books (never became an astronaut though). Emigration was a grand adventure and high school was a ridiculous shock: all the beauty of learning coupled with everyone hammering a round peg into a square whole.
Squares man. They can be so beautiful when they’re not people.
Like the panels of a comic book. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In high school, I invented surrealist writing – not being aware of its well-established existence. It saved my brain for greater things. Eventually, I met some actual surrealists, some actual poets, and artists and some actual interesting life.
And here we are today – and I’d like you to meet my children – The Micturating Angels (there’s more than one).
Q: What does “micturating” mean?
A: It’s all you get.
A surreal collage art-comic series seven years in the making (and counting). Somewhere between 2ooo – 3ooo collages in total, including the guest stars, the Secret Chiefs (guys in charge of this here Cosmos). Unraveling the adventures and sanity levels of young girls against their captive, oppressive world (is this a feminist comic? I don’t know…). Young girls against crappy old men and institutions, religious zealots, ignorance vs. science, freaks!
Drawing on source materials ranging from hardware catalogues to religious imagery to medical illustrations, alchemical instructions, furniture assembly instructions, “dirty” comics, mangas, giallos, and cannibalistic self-re-absorptions, the “Necronomicon” (containing not all but most of the sigils of the “Fifty Sacred Names of Marduk”), engineer’s manuals and mathematical formulæ
– do you still like comic books?
Then you’ll love this one! Playing with the conventions of comics to create striking visuals, adventures revealed through non-linear story-telling and complete non-sense dialogue – yes, the words are a red herring – “The Micturating Angel” is a unique comic that will never be understood by anyone – and that makes it an enduring mystery, I hope. (Aren’t questions better than answers? No, they’re not. But Bigfoot is more interesting when you DON’T know that it’s just mountain-lion footprints.)
And there it is. My seven-year Grand Opus, unlike its predecessors (all the other books I’ve made), and a never to be repeated exercise by me. And I WANT you to enjoy it! I really do, I want you to look beyond the confusion, I want you to stop trying to make sense of it and revel in what it actually IS: an ever-shifting series of nightmares laid out like the storyboard of a Hollywood blockbuster that will never be made.
Welcome aboard. I hope you like THIS comic.
– Xtian, 2019
“I LOVE your collage work! It is VERY surreal… your comics are great! … Good luck with your project!”
– Rev. Ivan Stang, Church of the Subgenius
“… a very original comic…”
– Surrealismo Internacional