When first exposed to the art of Ben Wilson, or to Mr. Wilson in the act of creating it, people tend to respond with some degree of puzzlement.
“When I first saw one, I thought it was a fruit sticker,” said Matt Brasier, who was walking through this north London suburb the other day.
A woman named Vassiliki, who was passing by, said that when she came upon Mr. Wilson, prone and seemingly inert on the sidewalk, “I thought he wasn’t very well.” She added: “I was like, ‘What is he doing?’ And they told me: ‘He’s painting the chewing gum.’ ”
That is exactly what he was doing. Mr. Wilson, 47, one of Britain’s best-known outsider artists, has for the last six years or so immersed himself in a peculiar passion all his own: he paints tiny pictures on flattened blobs of discarded chewing gum on the sidewalks of London.