Fatboy Slim launching ‘Smiley’ art exhibition

by People Magazine
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Fatboy Slim is opening an art exhibition to showcase his collection of ‘Smiley’ memorabilia.

The Praise You hitmaker, real name Norman Cook, has spent 40 years collecting items featuring the stylised smiley face symbol, and has curated a new exhibition at the Underdogs Gallery in Lisbon, Portugal.

The symbol has become synonymous with the star, who has a smiley tattoo on his arm, and also has the symbol on the roof of his home in Brighton, England, and uses it frequently in his music artwork.

In a statement posted on the exhibition’s website, he explained: “I became aware of the smiley in 1977 on the cover of the first 12” single, Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads.

“Once on my radar, I loved how such a simple image appeared in so many unexpected places in popular culture, both historically and thematically.”

The 55-year-old confessed to feeling a special affinity for the symbol, as it was created by the artist Harvey Ball in 1963, the same year he was born. Ball was commissioned by the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts to make badges with the symbol to improve staff morale.

“As I grew up through punk rock into club culture, it endured in my experience and imagination,” Cook added. “Born in the sixties and growing up in the seventies, it has followed me around all my life so it was no surprise to later learn that the smiley was born in 1963, the exact year I came into the world.”

The Smile High Club, which Cook has curated in collaboration with Underdog Gallery and artist Vhils, real name Alexandre Farto, also features work by The KLF musician Jimmy Cauty, and will run from 21 June to 21 July.

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