interview by D.Meyer
What’s your current state of mind?
So the Olympics, talk about the ultimate cluster fuck in global, national and corporate marketing … how do the games sit in your head, so-to-speak?
Haha, well, my work documents our world within my own understanding that technological advancement edges us closer to technological destruction. I wasn’t taking a show to Britain to criticize it or the games. The Olympic games celebrates mankind’s ability to go “faster, higher, stronger.” London XX12 was assembled to document the UK in 2012 and my presence as an artist traveling there immediately prior to the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
How are you feeling about the new show? There’s sculpture? That’s new yes?
Yes, the ceramic foot multiples were new for this show. I’d been working on them in between painting. I wanted the finished pieces to look oil-slicked and burnt and decided on a form of Raku for the final firing. Most of the casts were trashed in the process. After months of focusing on my feet and finalizing the gallery installation, we all were surprised when I literally broke both my feet, a day before the opening.
You broke both of your feet in London? Can you describe that?
Yes, jumping off a wall. It all made sense in retrospect.
You said that the ideal place to be an artist is isolated in a cave. Why is that? Don’t you think being inspired by the world around you is an important part of art-making?
My Digital Media paintings are literal depictions of outdoor advertising and foresight into a more comprehensive future connectivity with outdoor scapes. The paintings wouldn’t be possible without walking down the street and breathing it all in. Once artwork is created, however, there are expected art dealing idiosyncrasies. I would prefer to be ignorant of “what happens next” in a cave far far away - but that’s impossible, isn’t it. I think the quote you referenced is when I described my first gallery shows and I accepted the artwork on the street no longer being the end-all. This is currently translated with my referencing the literal image of “skullphone” as “advertisement” – albeit in the gallery, as a painting.
How do you feel about going from the street to the gallery? Do you find the formality of the process, deadlines and nosey gallerists helpful, or hindering?
All the new work is created to mess with people within the gallery similar to how art outdoors is seen quickly and subconsciously while driving down the street. We didn’t have smart phones back in 1999, when I first started working outdoors, and people were left to guess motives. Moving forward I didn’t dream of working within the gallery in the same fashion as outdoors. The pieces come together and fall apart visually,something that can’t be easily photographed or viewed comprehensively online. You have to be there in person. The aluminum panels I currently create are buffed into mirrors prior to the dot painting process, so in the end, viewers see themselves.
Technology… you weigh all the pros and cons… in the end, more good than bad? More bad than good?
Well I’m not a “doomsdayer”. My crude drawing of a skull holding a phone was reporting a then-new widespread gesture. We didn’t have portable phones generally around us prior to the mid/late ‘90’s. With this sketch I was pointing a finger at myself. I too am learning how to adjust to everything everywhere all the time. So, yes, of course I do feel like we as a culture are fighting against idiocracy.
What hangs above your sofa?
A window with a view of downtown Los Angeles and neighboring hills. My studio has an art storage so I can rotate art seasonally, or yearly throughout my home. Years ago I moved out a Lichtenstein “interiors” poster from the ’99 Chicago MOCA show, which I liked because, well, it’s beautiful, and the woman is on a telephone, and it’s an exhibit from the same year I drew the original “skull on cellphone” image. I’ve just brought back an oil painting I dumpster dove for in childhood which is a storm oversea. An Evan Gruzis watercolor was just brought in as well, a painting which I interpret as a layering of text in the sky. I properly function with inspiring art around me. This encouragement changes as life changes.
What were the last three things you googled?
“Toby Damnit Spirits of the dead”, “Nino Rota sheet music”, and “lowest common denominator”
What’s your motto?