Mavado Charon

Interview by
Adam Baran
Drawing by
Mavado Charon


Mavado Charon's drawings immediately call to mind artists like the Marquis De Sade, Hieronymus Bosch, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Goya, and Georges Bataille; all of whom made work about the meeting point of terror, chaos, violence, and sexuality. Charon combines these influences with a punk rock zine/underground comic book aesthetic - think Johnny Ryan, Mike Diana, and even Bruce LaBruce. His work regularly depicts group scenes of casual torture, rape, and violence, often by Mad Max style characters who are simultaneously fucking or fisting each other with intense passion. I've been following his work on his blog Dirty Charon for the past few months, and decided to email him to find out more about it.

Adam: Why do you make drawings of such violent and sexual images?
Mavado: Firstly I would like to say that my work is not a call to violence! I make these scenes of murderous debauchery to test how far drawing can represent the darkest and most extreme fantasies and this is my message, too: we have to feel free with our fantasies! Can drawing, like literature (extreme literature like Pierre Guyotat or The Marquis De Sade for example) go as far as our consciousness? Can the representation of extreme violence be liberating in front of horror, in the same way laughter can be.
What have been the reactions of people to your work?
I’m very pleased that my drawings for the most part do not provoke reactions of disgust! I make them with a lot of fun. I’ve waited before showing them, because I was a little afraid about people’s reaction. But for the moment, I’m pleased because most of people perceived the humor I’ve used in this sexual and murderous debauch. The 20th century was the worst for mass murders. Millions of human beings died. And the early 21st seems to be fascinated by the apocalypse and the destruction of earth. I feel like my drawings are in the middle of this.
Who are your influences? Mike Diana?
Yes, I like Mike Diana, his drawings are very simple but he also explores the dark side of humanity. More generally I am very enthusiastic about the present alternative graphic scene, represented in Europe by the French editor Le Dernier Cri. I am also very influenced by Japanese artists and what they call the Ero-Guro Art!  And I am also passionate about old Japanese prints (the great Hokusai for example) and apocalyptic painting of the European middle ages (Bosch of course)… that’s where I took the lack of perspective in my drawing. But I must also confess my love for old and quite ridiculous videogames like ‘Pit fighter’, ‘Final fight’ or ‘Mortal Kombat 1’ (my favorite)… Which are perspective-less as well!
What about Henry Darger?
For me, Henry Darger is one of the most important draughtsmen of the 20th century, with the crazy secret universe he made throughout his long life, but my main source of inspiration for the moment is William Burroughs’ writing. I feel closer to him when making these drawings. He is the first person to have created an elaborate universe composed of homoeroticisms, massacres and fighting men.
And like in Henry Darger, I notice most of the women in your drawings have penises too?
I really like ambiguity and I’m fascinated by the transgender. Those characters can be women with penises, but also men dressed up with women’s clothes. For the moment, the women in my drawings are mainly victims, but it’s not an apology for violence against women. One day I am sure to make a scene of lesbians killing… It could be fun!
So where do you get your sex-inspiration from? Do you watch lots of porn?
I love eroticism and porn in movies, websites or books, but I’m often disappointed by the lack of fantasies I witness. Porn can be highly formatted, and I’m sure that graphic art can go further than porn industry. Except for artists like Bruce LaBruce, who try to make something different, it’s like people just repeat the same stereotypes! I try to experiment with something new, and explore new limits.
So then are you just imagining these scenarios? Or are you into orgies and sex clubs and visit them regularly?
About inspiration, it may sound a little strange, but my main source of inspiration is boredom. Creating all those dirty drawings is very exciting and a great way to fight boredom. I’ve studied the life of the great Marquis de Sade, who wrote thousands and thousands of filthy pages in prison. He especially used a huge dildo to hide his main opus 120 Days of Sodom. I’m very much in awe of his life!
Do you have regular fuck-buddies?
I’ve been in a couple for two years now, and it’s a daily joy! I walk around beaming, and this gives me strength to create.
What is the kinkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Having sex with my darling partner can be very kinky… even if it means nothing when you tell it to someone else! I don’t have a hardcore or adventurous sex-life, but I feel absolutely happy with sex. It’s one of the greatest human experiences, even if it can be the hardest to accomplish. A fulfilled sex-life makes people better. To tell you something titillating, when I was a young teenager, I learned all about sex in summer camps in Great Britain and Spain, with classmates. Far from my parents and my usual friends, it was the place to be free and explore my first desires. I let you imagine this. I could have drawn it… if it was not forbidden!
Where do you live?
I’m living in Nantes, on the Pacific west coast of France. It’s a small but very vibrant city, full of exciting things for those who love parties, nice people and art!
Have you gotten any strange or unusual responses from fans?
For now I don’t get lots of feedback from my fans, as I’m a quite a young artist. But I’m very happy to see that my work already has a lot of fans. One of the greatest is the Japanese cartoonist Gengoroh Tagame, who makes some of the best erotic stories in the world! The funny thing is that when I’ve met fans, they were waiting for a dark guy, with an intense hardcore sex-life… I hope it’s not too disappointing, but my life is dedicated to work, and it’s more important for me to express bizarre sex than to experiment with it in real life. However, I’m not a hermit. I’ve got numerous friends and comrades in art, and I love partying.

Published on 23 March 2010