Here's why Jim Carrey has gone from comedian to artist over night

Here's why Jim Carrey has gone from comedian to artist over night

Jim Carrey's career is pretty complicated. He's a man who was once viewed by the public almost solely as an over-the-top screwball; someone whose larger-than-life roles were like watching a live-action cartoon. Audiences loved him and Carrey starred in three of the biggest movies of 1994 (Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura and The Mask). However, he then he surprised us by proving that he possessed enormous range.

Movies such as The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Man on the Moon were rightly praised and recently, a behind-the-scenes documentary examined Carrey's intense method acting. Between his candidness regarding his struggles with depression and his far heavier roles, it was clear that Carrey is a complex character.

However, Carrey's career has taken another unexpected twist of late. The actor has decided to try his hand at being an artist and has shared his work on social media for all to see. The trouble is that recently his art has got topical, political and intensely critical of the Trump administration. On March 17, a caricature of a woman believed to be Sarah Huckabee Sanders went viral on Twitter, captioned: "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!" Other caricatures Carrey has shared include unflattering portraits of Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. All of them have provoked speculation and scrutiny. 

So what has motivated Carrey to become an amateur artist? What is he hoping to achieve with these paintings? His unofficial website documents his many forays into the world of art and notes that: "Jim Carrey has been drawing and painting since he was a kid. And for several years now, Carrey has been making art that is as expressive and emotive as his work as an actor. When he is not involved in new movie projects much of his time is spent in his New York art studio ... Jim Carrey's art can be viewed at Wyland Galleries Beachwalk - Waikiki, Hawaii and Wyland Galleries Lake Tahoe, California where he is a permanent artist."

A documentary released in August 2017 and entitled I Needed Colour looked at Carrey's artistic exploits. Carrey revealed that he had got back into art as a form of therapy after the death of his former girlfriend Cathriona White in 2015. Carrey was later implicated in a wrongful death suit, filed by White's husband, who alleged that Carrey had used his "immense wealth and celebrity status" to illegally obtain the medication White had overdosed on. Carrey explains: "Suddenly ... at a time when I was trying to heal a broken heart, I decided 'well maybe I'll paint.' When your heart is in love you're floating weightless. But when you lose that love, you have to re-enter the atmosphere and it can get pretty rough. "

Carrey also revealed that his art became something of an obsession for him in the wake of White's death, stating: "When I started painting a lot, I became so obsessed that there was nowhere to move in my home. The paintings became part of the furniture; I was eating on them. I found myself looking around myself, on a really bleak winter in New York, and it was just so depressing, and I think I needed colour." But even if we see Carrey's art as a way for him to recover after a personal trauma, then that hardly explains why he's been drawing what look like political cartoons for his Twitter followers. That subject matter seems to be less about therapy and more about outrage.

In the documentary examining his method acting (Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond), Carrey opens up about his own personal philosophy and states: "There's the avatar that you create, and the cadence you come up with that is pleasing to people, and takes them away from their issues, and makes you popular, and at some point you have to peel it away. It's not who you are ... You got to the office and you put a monkey suit on and you act a certain way and you say a certain thing and you lie through your teeth at times and you do whatever you need to do to look like a winner. And then at some point in your life you have to say 'I don't care what it looks like.' I've found the hole in the psyche and I'm going through and I'm going to face the abyss of not knowing whether people will be okay with that."

It seems that Carrey is admitting that he doesn't want to just be a puppet performer, blindly bowing to what the public wants to stay famous and relevant. Here, he seems to be saying that he isn't afraid to challenge the public's image of him by tackling subjects that are seen as too "serious" for the persona that most people associate him with.

Perhaps this is why Carrey's art is often so intentionally so provocative and such a blatant expression of Carrey's political values: it's an outlet for him to be controversial and condemnatory - one that the medium of comedy and big-budget studio films cannot provide without the risk of alienating the public.

However, Carrey's endeavours have attracted scorn from Twitter users and aficionados alike. Writing for British newspaper The Guardian, art critic Jonathan Jones stated: "If his art helps and heals him, that’s great. He just should not be showing this stuff to anyone and expecting anything except derision ... Please, say it’s a joke. The art Carrey has been filmed making would be turned down if he offered it to a Salvation Army store. It gives amateurs a bad name."

Others have condemned Carrey's cartoons for being lurid, profane, or in the case of the caricature of Huckabee Sanders, anti-Christian. In a piece Carrey entitled "Fifty Shades of Decay" he depicted a naked Donald Trump having censored sexual intercourse with a figure who resembled porn actress Stormy Daniels; who claims to have been paid off to keep quiet about the details of a prior affair.

Maybe some people find Carrey's caricatures offensive, but personally, I don't think he should be excluded from the same freedom of expression and joy of creation that all of us are entitled to; particularly if he finds it psychologically beneficial. OK, so maybe some of Carrey's views sound a little bit new age and spacey, but I don't think he should be written off as crazy or narcissistic for exploring other creative outlets. There's nothing to stop anyone from picking up a brush and bringing something into being, regardless of the end result. Let's celebrate that, instead of being suspicious of it.