Ray Caesar, the Canadian artist who turned down Madonna
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Ray Caesar requests that we meet at a Starbucks in Toronto’s PATH, a system of bland subterranean walkways beneath the city’s financial district, where a sea of people in dark suits creates an energy that is at once frenetic and mind-numbing.
He’s wearing a black turtleneck sweater. His eyes are soft, his smile is gentle. At 52, his hair is more salt than pepper. You might mistake him for a mid-level office hack grabbing a coffee on casual Friday.
Could this really be the artist behind the eerily beautiful, otherworldly and rather disturbing canvases (dames with spider legs, girls eating flies) hanging on the walls of such boldface buyers as shock rocker Marilyn Manson? The same guy who corresponds with Madonna? Who was recruited to work with fashion demigod Riccardo Tisci? Shouldn’t he look more like Edward Scissorhands? Or at least Karl Lagerfeld?
Don’t be fooled.
Ceasar acknowledges head-on just how complex he is. He’s chosen the seemingly uninspired venue for our meeting, he explains, because he’s “slightly agoraphobic,” and his anxiety about being outdoors is eased when he can sit down to sketch at various points along this vast web of underground corridors. He also struggles with dissociative identity disorder: more commonly known as multiple personality disorder. He also insists he was born a dog.