This week we chatted with NYC-based painter Chris Hood to find out a little bit more about his most recent work—abstracted mixed media and traditional oil-on-canvas pieces—that pull from a variety of contact points in visual culture. Hood’s curious arrangement of imagery feels as though it’s connected to some larger narrative, and it’s interesting to see what inspires his process. Full interview after the jump.
Jered Sprecher makes paintings that do not fit neatly into any category. At first they look like geometric abstraction, but then you realize that there is something different about the surface, it’s brushy and the edges of the shapes aren’t dogmatically hard like other geometric paintings. In his broader body of work there are images peppered in among the abstract elements, but the images are sort of soft pictures with interruptions, like paintings based on a faded calendar that was exposed to too much light in a hallway. Sprecher’s paintings seem to accept the modern idea that paintings are things, that paintings are first and foremost flat sculpture. This train of thinking says illusions are a kind of deception, which they are. Modernism goes a little further by hinting that illusions are lies that are also moral defects. This aversion to illusion brought us abstract artists like the evangelical Donald Judd, the graceful openness of Helen Frankenthaler, and the philosophical diagrams of Peter Halley. Enjoying painting as a window into an illusory world is a “mistake” everyone made until the 1940s, when some smart people came along and told us to be careful about it. Modernists say any artwork that hides its true nature is a metaphor for misunderstanding life in a bigger way. Sprecher does not seem to completely buy the modernist talking points, and like a bad political surrogate goes off message on a Sunday talk show, saying “Yes, but… I always lie!”
You can see Sprecher’s newest work in his show I Always Lie at Jeff Bailey Gallery in Chelsea until March 23rd. Interview after the jump.
Guy Laramee is the exception to well, any rule. He’s versed in theater writing and directing, contemporary music composition, musical instrument design and building, singing, video, scenography, installation, painting, literature and sculpture. What have you done lately?
It’s particularly his carved sculptures that caught our eye, however a glance at his CV reveals enough accomplishment for multiple creative lifetimes. He’s an anthropologist, has traveled to the Peruvian Amazon, and is clearly someone who lives richly in any endeavor he undertakes. Applying a critical eye, after all, is the job of the anthropologists and ethnographers, but also the musicians and artists of in any medium. After interviewing Guy, its clear he lives for the process, constantly examining from new angles and creating in the way that best brings his latest idea to life.
Last September, we visited Leon Reid IV‘s studio and brought back some photos. Less than a month later, Hurricane Sandy blew through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, leaving so many of us devastated. Leon’s studio is located right up against Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. When the storm hit, the creek flooded the studio with nasty, polluted water; damaging equipment, artwork, and the space itself. Slowly but surely, Leon’s working to bring things back together. We recently talked briefly about his rebuilding process and where things are headed going forward. Click past the jump for Leon’s account of the ordeal and some news from his studio. And stop by his booth at the Fountain Art Fair (March 8-10, 68 Lexington Ave.), where he’ll be showing some of the flooded works.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Alexandra Grant. See the full studio visit and interview with Alexandra and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Alexandra’s studio is in the historic West Adams district of Los Angeles, just a short distance from Koreatown and Downtown. From the outside her building looks like a non-descript, kind of funky commercial space that in no way expresses how big her studio actually is. The place is huge with a cavernous feel to it— cold, shadowy, and resounding with echoes, it heightened every one of my senses. Everything I took in seemed exaggerated: the damp air, the bright fluorescent lights, the vibrant colors of Alexandra’s paintings, and the steady rhythm of her voice. Long after our visit those impressions continued to linger, as did much of my conversation with Alexandra. She is a force to be reckoned with— her brain is agog with ideas that she expresses in a continuous flow of conversation, often jumping from one thought to the next as they wildly run through her mind. Her energy is infectious and inspiring, and makes you feel like the world is in fact full of promise, insight and adventure. Many of Alexandra’s paintings are collaborations with writers and their ideas, which makes sense because she appreciates the complex nature of dialogue: the exchange of both concepts and language, the act of deciphering and interpreting, the twists of subtext, and the inevitable losses in translation and how we make up for them. By borrowing writers’ poetic language she utilizes the format of dialogue to create “conversation” between image and text. In engaging text and image this way, the work then becomes a liminal space that challenges the viewer’s ability to perceive and hold both elements at once.
LIKE KNOWS LIKE is an ongoing video series inspired by the globe community of artists now connected with social media. Created by award winning photographer Marije Kuiper and documentary filmmaker Bas Berkhout, the Amsterdam based duo has interviewed a variety of different artists from all over the world that they originally became acquainted with through social media. Watch the videos after the jump.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Serena Cole. See the full studio visit and interview with Serena and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Serena’s studio is in her Oakland apartment, a modest space that she has efficiently rigged to accommodate her needs. She’s set it up so that her studio takes up most of the apartment’s square footage, but she keeps things flexible with furnishings that are easily moved and rearranged. I’m always impressed with resourcefulness and am appreciative of the kind of ingenuity that comes out of necessity and that manages to circumvent a set of limitations. In fact, the idea of limitations kept coming up for me in thinking about Serena’s artwork because her pieces are very much visually dictated and confined by her reference material. Her work directly appropriates the fashion imagery of advertising campaigns and editorial spreads, highlighting the patterns and tropes used to elicit desire and encourage consumerism. In taking on this imagery, her work attempts to examine what is revealed about our collective psychology, the culture of consumption and escapism, and the complexity of fantasy. In our conversations, she acknowledged that she isn’t so much trying to create something new, but instead aims to deconstruct already existent imagery in the appropriation of it. But this is a slippery slope— in being so tightly tethered to the aesthetics of the fashion world, Serena’s work runs the risk of coming off as analogous instead of questioning. Serena is aware of this risk— in creating art within a framework already heavily loaded with well-established associations, value, and perimeters, she knows the trick is to get the viewer to recognize that there is actually a lot at stake amidst the glitz and glamour.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Rebecca Morris. See the full studio visit and interview with Rebecca and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
We drove to Rebecca’s studio on a Sunday morning, with a yellowish-grey almost dusty looking sky overhead and both Klea and I wondered how this visit, the first in our LA adventure, would go. Being in a new city had us feeling less sure about what to anticipate and we just hoped to get off to a good start. As soon as Rebecca greeted us and took us up to her studio, I knew our morning was going to turn out just fine. She instantly felt familiar and easy to talk to, and she had fresh croissants waiting for us! Rebecca paints large, open paintings in vibrant hues and utilizes a series of shapes, lines, and gestures to create a singular visual vocabulary within abstract compositions. We talked about how she finds the lack of specificity and the openness in abstraction appealing, and she likes that a viewer can come to her work with their own set of associations and leave with a very personal interpretation. Rebecca’s generosity regarding how her work is decoded and interpreted is a testament to her hard-won confidence. She’s put in enough years working at her art to figure out what’s right for her, and she doesn’t seem all that concerned with proving anything to anyone but herself. I was struck by Rebecca’s sense of self and her total commitment to her own beliefs and aesthetic choices despite what others might think. She calls it “a stubbornness.” I call it true grit. In her 2004 manifesto, Rebecca’s gutsy, no-nonsense attitude comes through in lines like: Don’t pretend you don’t work hard… Be out for blood…and, Abstraction never left, motherfuckers.She’s self-possessed, but there’s no chip on her shoulder. I guess because when confidence is real, it’s not complicated or loud— it’s just a simple, quiet thing. It’s inspiring to encounter a woman who has unapologetically taken a hold of her life, and is making choices based solely on what she truly believes in, artistically and otherwise. Visiting with Rebecca reminded me to recognize the weaknesses in the rules that were written for me, and to do something about it.