Filmmaker John Waters was in disbelief after learning of artist Mike Kelley's recent death, and assumed the tragic news was a macabre "art piece".
The Hairspray director has been an avid collector of Kelley's work and admits he has lost his "favourite living artist" after the 57 year old passed away earlier this week (31Jan12).
Waters initially struggled to believe reports that Kelley took his life, and hoped the speculation was a grim hoax.
He tells The Hollywood Reporter, "Like everybody, I'm completely shocked. He was my favourite living artist. I really hate that I have to change that category now.
"It seems like he was at the height of his career: the biggest galleries, great work, great reviews, an international retrospective. I always thought his work was about dysfunction but I always thought humour and wit would save him. Sometimes you don't know how people feel underneath.
"At first I was hoping it was an art piece. It could have been. But unfortunately it's a very sad thing. I loved everything he did. I look at his work everywhere."