PVC: “What did the devil give you?”

NC: “[…]I think the devil gave me a kind of disguise. It was just a way of, I think, ultimately—even though I didn’t really know this at the time—a way of telling… coming to certain realizations about things that were happening in my life, in disguise. So, it was never me… but it was, in the end, very much so and I guess that the devil was allowing me to look at certain things that went on through my life from a point of view of sin by attaching a pair of horns to myself.”

This short interview film is full of valuable insights, but this exchange caught my attention in particular. It captures something that is important to Cave’s aesthetics: Art is never a matter of self-expression.

So, a “quite naive” series of sculptures depicting a life of a devil becomes a disguise through with which Cave can—subconsciously (this is crucial)—reckon with a view of his own life in light of sin as an individual reality. This only becomes clear and meaningful to him after the fact. and because this meaning was not something that he was intentionally conveying as a “message”, the art retains a depth element that allows it to be revelatory not simply to Cave, but to the viewer—and undoubtedly in very differently meaningful ways.