British artist Sam Cox, better known as Mr. Doodle, spent roughly two years during the COVID pandemic painting black-on-white doodles on every conceivable surface of a 12-room mansion in the southeast of England. It’s a graffiti-art building takeover quite unlike anything we’ve seen before.
The building is not where one might expect to see such a graffiti takeover. It’s an old, stately residence near the small town of Tenterden, in a rural area of Kent, as opposed to, say, an abandoned warehouse in a blighted industrial zone. And the house is painted in Mr. Doodle’s signature aesthetic style — monochromatic doodles and comic-like drawings in thick black lines — inescapably reminiscent of the late great pioneering New York artist Keith Haring.
The impact of the house is that the sum is greater than that of its parts, with the painted building as the actual artwork, more an epic art installation in and of itself, than the actual images painted throughout the home. There’s a large degree of gimmickry to all this and some firmly tongue-in-cheek cleverness — A TV screen is painted with a news broadcast; a painted box of “Doodle Flakes” cereal rests on the dining room table; a framed Mr. Doodle-styled version of Edward Munch’s iconic, impressionist painting “The Scream” is painted on a wall; each key on a computer keyboard has been individually painted with a pictographic character.
The Mr. Doodle house is compelling. It sucks your mind into a vise-like grip of focused attention. The viewer can’t help but look and look and want to explore, incredulous to the obsessiveness and thoroughness of the enterprise and the fact that indeed every ceiling, floor, wall, door, piece of furniture, lamp, plate and bowl — really, truly everything — has been doodled on. Bravo.
The local news website Kent Online has an excellent article about Mr. Doodle’s house, as well as video and audio interviews with the artist and lots of pix.