Thomas Houseago’s drawing studio, in the Frogtown neighborhood of Los Angeles, is smartly outfitted with plywood bookshelves, comfortable couches, and a low table perennially laid out with a stainless steel carafe of hot water, a bamboo whisk, and an assortment of matcha tea bowls. It’s a contemplative domestic scene set against an exhilarating backdrop—a wall covered floor to ceiling by a grid of wildly sundry images of movie scenes, comic book characters, architecture, sculpture, musicians, murderers, urban decay, masks, works in progress, and family snapshots. Each addition to this constantly changing collage introduces new juxtapositions and unexpected visual rhymes—mapping out an ever evolving portrait of the artist.
Houseago began to collect these images in 2013, after he was invited to give a talk in Leeds, his hometown in the north of England. “I was radically against doing it,” he says, brusquely interrupting himself to up his complaint. “I was rabidly against doing that talk.” His voice has a hoarse sweetness and still betrays his Yorkshire origins and the instilled British trait for self-effacement. Houseago left Leeds in 1991, at the age of 19, and embarked on what he describes as his “itinerant” education and career. After completing a foundation year at Leeds College of Art, where he was encouraged to channel his furious energy and ideas into performances and actions (he