Artist of the Week: Christian Dietkus
Christian Dietkus was born in Oakland, California and received his BFA from the Cooper Union in 2005 and his MFA from Columbia University in 2013. Working in painting and sculpture his work explores the intersection of personal subjectivity, consumer culture and sexuality. He has exhibited nationally including Deitch Projects, Family Business, Salon 94 and Louis B. James in New York. He is also the recipient of the Michael S. Vivo Memorial Prize and the Fred A. Lane Prize for excellence in painting.
Photo by Chad Davis Creative
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born and raised in the Bay Area in California where I was involved in youth activism before I was seriously interested in art. I moved to New York City to attend the Cooper Union where I studied painting and photography and have stayed ever since. My work is primarily a painting and sculpture practice that explores the intersection of personal subjectivity, consumer culture, and sexuality.
Christian Dietkus, Northern Shell 119, 2011 acrylic on Epson print on board, shelf 8.5 x 11 inches
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Right now I am interested in pressure as an organizing principle. More specifically I have been making sculptures, which use only confluent pressure as a means of cohesion. Whenever I see a sculpture, a piece of furniture, a building or even a body, my mind immediately tries to visualize how the thing is held together, why it doesn’t just fall apart, and what tools were needed to make it. This led me to the idea of pressure both literally and as a metaphor. In the sculptures, this is expressed by including the tools used in the making of the sculpture with the sculpture––thus creating a contiguous chain of making. The result is hopefully an autonomous object free of said preoccupation.
Christian Dietkus, Untitled (confluence series I ) 2013 Oak, paint, digital print, brick Dimensions variable
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? A few things actually. The first is a wonderful project happening in early February which is a sort of conceptual fashion show of artist designed track suits made as a gesture of protest to the Russian governments treatment of LGBT peoples. I am thrilled to be included in such an illustrious roster of artists. The event which is called “Purple and Gold” is going to be in NYC opening at Louis B. James Gallery on February 7th. Additionally I am really excited to be working on a publication of writings by painters, which should be coming out in 2014. The project is being spearheaded by artist Dana Schutz and will comprise contributions from about twenty artists writing on a wide variety of topics. I am writing about the concept of “emergent adulthood” and provisionality in painting. The last thing is my first solo show in Brussels which will be opening in the fall at Ricou Gallery.
Christian Dietkus, Untitled (confluence series I ) 2013 Oak, paint, digital print, brick Dimensions variable
How did your interest in art begin? The earliest memory I have of what could be called art was a cataloging project of sorts where I drew and named all of my stuffed animals of which there were hundreds as well as other objects and personal effects in my room. I spent hours and hours trying to make exacting drawings which were labeled and given tittles. The endeavor was somewhere between a taxonomy and a character study, a line I still strive for.
Christian Dietkus, Mesh I, 2012 Epson print and aluminum dimensions variable
What artists are you interested in right now? This is an ever changing list but I would say right now I have been thinking about Bracha Ettinger, Rebecca Horn, Mark Manders and Bernard Frize to name a few.
Christian Dietkus, Flow I , 2013 acrylic on tabloid on canvas panel 28 x 23 inches
What past trends in art do you think should never come back? Anything that is referred to as “Classic”, I cringe every time I hear that word. One only needs to read Robert Rosenblum’s “Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art” to realize how illusory and conditioned the word “classic” is in reference to art or anything for that matter. It seems to suggest an artwork that can transcend the values and anxieties of its own time which of course is impossible.
Christian Dietkus, Mouthpiece (side view detail ), 2012 Aluminum, speaker, sound recording, amplifier, wood
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? I would really like to collaborate with a motion capture scientist. I have some ideas about making a compressed topographic surface from the data collected from motion capture, almost like a digitally derived bas-relief.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? My working process is quite similar to the logic of a fetish object. It usually begins with an irrational attraction to a readymade image or commodity object, which then sits in the studio while it collects attachments, associations, thoughts and observations. This process can take a weeks, months or even years at which point I make an artwork about the thing.
Christian Dietkus, Roll I ( In Touch for Moshé ), 2013 acrylic on tabloid on canvas panel 72 x 84 inches
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? This is a tough one but I would have to say “Hierve el Agua” which is a petrified waterfall and natural mineral spring to the east of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. It’s basically looks like nature made an infinity pool in the middle of a deserted canyon. If you go in the off season you might be lucky enough to not see a single person all day. It’s just you and the sound of this dripping water which you know has been going on for millennia.
Christian Dietkus, Mime (Green), 2013 acrylic and collage on canvas 11 x 8.5 inches
What are you reading right now? Right now I am reading a book called “The Conquest of Cool” which is a historical analysis of advertising and its relationship to counterculture. The book maps the dramatic shifts in corporate culture and advertising which happened between the 1950’s and the 1960’s. For me the most striking part about the book is how the shifts that happened within that decade create a sort of social contrapposto to the changes that occurred in fine art.
Artist of the Week: Lucas Briffa
Lucas Briffa was born and raised in Oakland, California. He received his BA in Visual Arts from Oberlin College in 2012 and is currently pursuing his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 2012-2013 he spent one year working as a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Academic Programs at the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was raised by ballet dancers who thought it better to home school their children than send them to Oakland public schools. Because of all my free time I spent most of my childhood camping and traveling around the Pacific Northwest. I also spent a lot of time alone. Sometimes, as a child, I would get up at 7am and watch the sunrise from my front yard. I used a steel pipe for protection. Often the impulse I am following is reminiscent of the terrifying and euphoric. In my practice I would say that almost all my research is about how we experience landscape, directly and through mediation.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? The polar vortex. I was in the Bay Area when it passed through Chicago, but I keep searching for traces of its effect on the city. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this video.
How did your interest in art begin? When I was five or six my grandfather taught me how to use a film camera and together we printed a picture in his homemade darkroom. After that, it wasn’t until high school that I was exposed to fine art. Sean McFarland was the first photographer to introduce me to people like Olafur Eliasson, Todd Hido, and Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison. Seeing those images inspired me to make visible my interpretation of how reality is constructed and experienced.
What were you like in high school? There was a rumor that I slept with one of my teachers.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? The creation of the real through the artificial is something I have returned to with several projects. Currently I am working on arranging a stream in my studio. For now it is made up of paper water and resin rocks, but I will eventually incorporate traces of people. I am also helping put a publication together that will showcase the work of all the graduate photography students and will be accompanied by a text from Karsten Lund. It will be available at the MFA thesis show coming this Spring.
What past trends in art do you think should never come back? I hope that no trends ever come back. That means we’re failing.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? When I was in college I played a video game designed by Fumito Ueda called Shadow of the Colossus. For about a week I spent more time wandering around that world than I did in real life. I have been fantasizing about designing a virtual landscape with him ever since.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? Anywhere near a Giant Sequoia. Some of them are 3,000 years old and over 300 feet tall. Also they make the air smell amazing.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? I think of my process as a cumulative one. Almost everything I end up making is directly responding to something I have done before. In this way I think I am trying to simultaneously look as far forward as I do behind. Recently I have been scrapping a lot of projects. I hope that means a change is going to come.
What are you reading right now? The Sublime from the Documents of Contemporary Art publication put out by Whitechapel Gallery, The Picturesque: architecture, disgust and other irregularities by John Macarthur, and a book of poems by Rumi.
Artist of the Week: Cynthia Daignault
Cynthia Daignault is an artist, musician and writer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She grew in Baltimore, Maryland and attended Stanford University. She was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2010. She edited the monograph on Sean Landers, Improbable History, which was published by JRP Ringier in 2011. Her work was featured in a solo show at White Columns in 2011. Daignault is a recipient of the 2011 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant. Her most recent solo show was at Lisa Cooley, New York, in the Fall of 2013. She has published two limited edition artist books, CCTV (2012) and I love you more than one more day (2013). She is the editor of A-Z. In June 2014, her first curatorial project with art historian Mark Loiacono will open in New York.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am painter. I sit in a relatively small room by myself, day after day. I move paint around a canvas. I think about love and I think about death. I contemplate the surreality of sitting in a relatively small room by myself, day after day, moving paint around a canvas thinking about love and about death.
How has living in New York affected your art practice? Spoiler Alert: New York is expensive. The rub: for years I worked a full-time job to pay my sickening apartment and studio rent because I thought I had to. This choice delayed my career by a good 10 years. Realizing this, I quit my job and went into massive credit card debt, endeavoring to create a situation of desperation where I had no choice but to accomplish something with my work or else fail miserably trying. Point Break. The city is a pressure cooker. It’ll cook you fast if you stay inside––and that’s it––you’re done. Or the pressure can build so intensely that the entire pot explodes destroying the dinner, the kitchen, the family, the house and the entire neighborhood. Boom. I’m trying to say it’s a love/hate thing. The city helped my work and career in many ways, but it also cost me 10 years of painting that I won’t get back (not to mention the ten years of drinking to alleviate my depression through which the city will no doubt claim another ten years on the back side of my career).
Who is your ideal studio mate? Curran Hatleberg. He is my studio mate. He is a photographer. He is also my boyfriend. I know less about photography than I should, so it’s humbling when I’m working on a new project and he can show me photographs that relate. It’s endlessly helpful to see how similar ideas can be approached in different media, which forces me to question my assumptions about what’s possible and what’s meaningful. Not to mention: he looks cute, makes me snacks, opens jars, and deejays Southern rap mixes when I get whiney.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? I want to say moonshine, or white lightning, or Everclear, but the sad truth is I’m probably something fruity, blended, and pink, served in a plastic coconut by an old guy in a cheap toupee. What I mean to say is this: I always say to become a great painter you have to learn to love the painter you are, not the painter you want to be. Sure bourbon is cool, but the world needs Tiki bars (and toupees), so maybe it’s not all bad. We’ll call it Summer’s Eve (the drink I mean, not the douche).
How did your interest in art begin? I always liked making things, but mostly it was mix tape covers. I made a lot of mix tape covers. It was the 90s, you couldn’t get a boyfriend without making that special guy a mixtape. And you couldn’t give him a mixtape without making a pretty fly cover. (Let’s just say I made a lot of mix tapes - Wocka Wocka). In college, I majored in art to add to my repertoire of mixtape making skills. But then mp3s and Napster and Justin Timberlake (as that guy from Napster) collapsed my whole analog world, and I was left holding the proverbial cassette. With mixtape artist no longer a viable career path(!), painting seemed like a solid second choice.
What past trends in art do you think should never come back? So called self-identifying “conceptual painters.” I think they’re self-hating painters with no viable relationship to the history of painting. To say ‘conceptual painting’ is to imply that there is a painting that is not conceptual, or to suggest that Monet or Courbet are merely mimeographing life. Ridiculous. At the very root, rendering three dimensional space and temporal visual existence into a fixed two-dimensional frame is a conceptual practice. Can I add a second? Market-based pessimism. Art can be poetic and meaningful if we aim toward that end, which means creating contexts for meaning, and at the core believing in the power of objects to effect people on intellectual and emotional levels and on the inherent desire in people to engage on those levels. I choose to believe that people are inherently good and that art can be meaningful. Even if I’m wrong, I’d rather be the naive optimist, than the nihilist, defeatist or pessimist. (Plus, I’m not wrong.)
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? The Clap.
Most embarrassing moment? There was this one time I wrote my most embarrassing moment on a blog on the internet. It went viral; people were shocked; my mother cried; I never recovered. Oh the life of a millennial. MILEY!
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just finished a solo show at Lisa Cooley Gallery. That was fun, but now I’m curating my first exhibition with the incomparable Mark Loiacono (Warhol scholar extraordinaire). I had no interest in curating, until I was surfing the net last month and noticed that in 30 current shows, Gagosian wasn’t showing one woman. Disgusting. I mean really sickening. Don’t get me wrong––there are definitely rays of light in this cave. For instance, I’m working with Kara Walker on a show she’s curating at the ICA Philadelphia (Anthony Elms is a gem!) ”Ruffneck Constructivists.” It’s a great show. Tough, deep, smart, challenging, cool, expansive, inclusive, generous. It’s inspiring. Kara really reminded me the point of throwing your name in the ring once and a while to fight for the artists and ideas that inspire you, and to fight against all the sexist, racist, agist, small-minded types feeding thrice regurgitated feces down our throats. If that’s not you––great. If that is you––do better.
What were you like in high school? I am unchanged. For better or worse. I listened to a lot of records, made stuff, hung out with my friends, read books, studied a lot, made out, and took long walks to nowhere places like alleys, parking lots, convenient stores and train tracks. Pretty much the only difference between then and now is the number of days per week that I wear mens pajama pants in public.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten to your work? I’m racking my brain for a time when an animal has encountered one of my paintings. Is it possible that no animals or pets have EVER looked seriously at my paintings? If so, this is certainly something to remedy. I’m sure if I got some dogs or cats up in my studio, I could get some pretty choice youtube footage to give an answer to this question with proper weight. Like so: A dwarfish, wall-eyed cat comes into my studio. He sees my latest painting. He looks at it very carefully. What’s this? Is he smiling? Then suddenly: hairball, back flip, a meow (which sounds eerily like “way to go!”), and one glorious high five, cat’s paw to painter’s hand. What is it to be an artist if not to dream?
Artist of the Week: Wyne Veen
Wyne Veen is a Dutch artist working in the photographic medium. Veen’s work consists of sculptural arrangements, utilizing everyday objects and their isolated materials. The work possesses an aesthetic and absurd appeal. Inspired by all things overly developed, Veen is fascinated by our highly manufactured lives, while also endlessly drawn to all steps of the production process.Veen graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2008 and maintains a studio in the Red Light district of Amsterdam.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Wyne Veen. I have a lot of ideas and lately they are translated in what you could call an installation design, which then becomes a photo and then a digital composition.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? I am a perfectionist so I have a problem with wanting to know everything without any partial uncertainty, which kind of always results in the opposite because you will never get to the point this way. I always get totally lost in Wikipedia & translation & dictionaries & newspaper site––never-ending curiosity in combination with small lack of focus and discipline in regards to the inter web is really disturbing.
A website I love is VPRO, an amazing Dutch public broadcasting service, which proclaim creativity, global citizenship, innovation and quirkiness. I would give huge donations to them if I were wealthy. Our government is increasing their budget drastically, while it is on of the best sources of well spread ideas situated in the best environment to do so. They try to stay very true to their values and make the least concessions I have ever noticed in a media environment.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Dealing with the feeling of being deceived in everything I try to do, especially when buying products I seem to need for my work or just basic necessities.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am working on an impression of the futuristic opera “Victory Over the Sun” for which Malevich did the costume design. At this point, I was browsing through my animated gif collection to find symbols to work with and now I can move on to the tangible version in my studio. So Russian futuristic poetry, music and art is actually my main focus right now.
How did your interest in art begin? I remember the first piece of art that ever got through to me: Christo’s Valley curtain in Colorado, 1972. I remember being heavily impressed with such a GREAT feeling of unlimited possibilities in life.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Hmmm, I am not sure I am able to really collaborate with somebody and be ultimately satisfied with the outcome, I am such a control/decision freak. But, I would love to work together with great craftsmen of all kinds––a glassblower for example.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I want them to feel surprised, uncertain, revolted and amused. A deep depression would be ideal, but not as the sole result and not without hope.
What are you reading right now? Arnon Grunberg, De man zonder ziekte.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? There is an architectural reconstruction going on in a public passage in Amsterdam for which I made the works attached. They show the craftsmen still around in that specific area. The photos will be on display for 10 years in huge light boxes! This project will open in early 2014 and I am really looking forward to see it all finished. This is for Ymere & Stadsdeel Amsterdam Zuid.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? An email with ‘love your work ya biittttttchhhhhhhhhhh’ accompanied by some smiley faces. Or, somebody wrote ‘this is the stupidest & dumbest work I have ever seen.’ Pretty great! But, people have mentioned positive crying as well! Whatever is in the eye of the beholder. After a portfolio viewing with an ad agency I got asked straight away: Are you a spiritual person?
Click through the photo for the Facebook event.
Artist of the Week: Spencer Stucky
Spencer Stucky graduated from the University of Oregon in 2011 with a BFA in photography. During his time at school he was in numerous group and solo shows and released several books under the publishing collective QUOIN. Spencer was born in San Francisco in 1987. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois and is enrolled in the Photography MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born in San Francisco, California, and lived there for a while before we moved on over to Oakland. I received a BA in Art History and a BFA in photography from the University of Oregon, where I worked at (and was wildly excited by) Ditch Projects. After undergrad, I moved back to Oakland and worked with Lower Bottom Gallery for about two years before moving to Chicago for SAIC’s MFA photo program. My practice currently calls on a wide range of disciplines, from photography to sculpture and drawing. Right now I am investigating the intersection of architectures, bodies, and nature. Also, I really like burritos.
How did your interest in art begin? Oh man, well, in the spirit of transparency, I will admit, it was skateboarding. I was really into skating when I was in my early teens. I would shoot skate photos of my friends, and eventually the camera started turning to what was happening on the periphery. I remember seeing work by Ed Templeton and Mark Gonzales in Thrasher and being floored. After school darkroom classes and a healthy obsession followed.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? I usually start with an interest based on an experience, document, or object that I have found, and then try to examine why I was initially engaged. What makes _______ interesting? What is the history of ______ and how does that fit into a larger political, cultural, and historical lineage? I spend a great deal of my time researching and trying to answer these questions. Usually, I find the resolutions to any kind of formal decisions during the research process.
What were you like in high school? A skate rat.
What are you reading right now? Donna Harraway’s When Species Meet, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Meeting the Universe Halfway by Karen Barad, Modernity unbound: Other Histories of Architectural Modernity by Detlef Mertins, the Are you working Too Much? Post-Fordisim, Precarity, and the Labor of Art e-flux journal, and Skymall.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? During the winter, in Chicago, I would have to say the Lincoln Park Conservatory (although I haven’t gone yet this season). It is a beautiful victorian steel and glass greenhouse in Lincoln Park that dates back to 1877. The conservatory has a fantastic collection of tropical plants, including hundreds of orchid and fern varieties. Imagine walking in out of sub-freezing temperatures into a humid and 80 degree tropical paradise with a glass dome roof. It’s like a mini vacation.
Who is your ideal studio mate? Probably Matsuoka Shuzo
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am currently finishing a project about the Paimio Sanitorium in Paimio, Finland. The work surrounds the use of the site and the architecture as a focusing apparatus for natural phenomena such as light, air, and vegetation for healing purposes. I also am making photographs and video work about a Chicago Police dog and motion capture technology. Besides these concrete projects, I have a few things floating around my head connecting a Swedish lightbulb factory, Trisha Brown, and photographs of swimsuits from the Nordiska museet archive, but I have no idea what will come of these. I’m also trying to get my act together and finally make some collaborative work with Steven Vainberg; a zine might be forthcoming.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? A Hamm’s.
Artist of the Week: Dani Orchard
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? After finishing my MFA at Hunter College this past May, I was awarded a generous grant and a year-long residency through The Dedalus Foundation. I have access to a beautiful studio at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn until next July. I’m hoping to travel to Istanbul next spring, to spend a month or so painting and exploring. I currently have work in a group show in New York at Galerie Protege, with three great artists.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I tend to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix and then lament doing so because I have nothing left to watch.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I was truly lucky to land this studio at Industry City right out of graduate school, but I’m of course aware of the enormous financial difficulties facing artists living in New York City. Studio rent is prohibitively expensive. I know of people moving to nearby cities like Beacon to find large and affordable studios, which to me sounds great, but surely presents a host of new problems. I can’t help feeling that the situation here is dismal, but I try to keep in mind that communities emerge from shared misery.
If you had one wish what would it be? I have a recurring daydream that involves being put in a situation that would require tremendous bravery on my part. It takes place in beautiful but inhospitable natural surroundings, and results in a great spiritual revelation. Usually, I’m saving the life of my sister’s Basset Hound, Bernie, in the frigid tundra after a fiery plane crash. For some reason, afterward someone awards me with millions of dollars. Basically I want to win the lottery, but somehow feel that I deserve it.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I’m fairly traditional in terms of materials. I try to use only nice oil paints and brushes. My medium is linseed or poppy oil, Gamsol and cold wax medium. I do experiment with supports, using various gessoes and linen weaves to arrive at new textures. My work is rooted in drawing. I use rudimentary printmaking processes and hardly plan anything. I draw all the time, and run a weekend figure drawing session at Hunter College. I work very quickly. I’m still not sure how to reconcile my love of fast gestural abstraction with my need to preciously dissect and design a canvas. Maybe that irreconcilability is what’s interesting about my work.
What artists are you interested in right now? I love Nicole Eisenman for her humor and amazing range, and for the playful way she borrows from art history. Recently I’ve been looking at a lot of sculptors, namely Huma Bhabha and Rachel Harrison. I really want to try some three dimensional work. Picasso’s ceramics are so charming and unrehearsed. He seemed to follow any impulse and allowed the shape of the vessel to dictate a composition. I’d like a new challenge, a new constraint. My paintings are largely unplanned and are informed by material. Often a response to an accidental surface texture will motivate an entire painting. I’m interested in trying to incorporate new media that could encourage unexpected responses.
How has your work developed within the past year? The figure has always been present in my work, but before my thesis semester, it wasn’t clear what the figures were doing or why they inhabited a space together. From January to May, I took up the theme of mother and child. I come from a large family and this domestic relationship was both dear to me and related to paintings from art history that I hoped to bring into the present. By introducing a clear relationship between the figures, I could explore formal painting ideas while remaining anchored and focused. I discovered that my interest in frailty and intimacy as well as painting history could all be evoked by a single symbol. Instead of being stifling, this theme proved very fruitful. I also allowed the importance of drawing to be more evident in the work, allowing areas of blank canvas and charcoal to show through.
What’s your favorite thing about your city? The Met. And the food here. You can eat well very cheaply. I also really love driving and biking over bridges. I’m terrible at math and it fascinates me that humans can conceive and execute such enormous and structurally sound things.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? The Magritte show at MOMA. I couldn’t believe how clear and confident they seem, and so quirky. There are a few larger works, but I left feeling amazed by the appeal of grouping such small, intimate paintings. I went with a couple of friends and we picked out different paintings that we want to “cover”. I feel the most inspired by work when I’m frantic to emulate it.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? I try not to keep snacks around when I’m working because I turn gluttonous and eat absentmindedly. I do use food as an incentive to work. I’ll award myself with tacos if I finish stretching canvases.
Artist of the Week: Mike Rubin
Mike Rubin was born in Los Angeles, CA. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in Los Angeles and am currently pursuing my MFA in Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I’m an object maker, mostly. My work makes use of a specialized image transfer process that I manipulate, known as Hydrographic Dipping––it’s a surfacing technique that allows me to image three-dimensional objects.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Well, I guess in a way to answer all three variations of that question, I could discuss The Quarter Project. It’s a sculpture that gets built over the course of my lifetime. I fabricate the object by swallowing, digesting, and shitting out a single commemorative coin over and over, in repetition, for the rest of my life. In this way, I’m using my body as a sculptural apparatus, allowing the parasympathetic muscle response in my digestive tract and the acid in my stomach to mark and shape the object with each cycle.
The project began with the conceptual parameters of having the coin travel the length of a marathon through my digestive tract, an approximate 4,576 cycles. Although as time passed, I began to forge an incredibly strong psychological relationship with the thing, which seems to be more interesting.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I don’t have Netflix, is that still a thing?
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I think a very real problem is the relationship of the work’s physical presence with that of its digital representation. I’m not sure how new this dilemma is, but it seems to becoming increasingly more understood that work exists in a variety of spatial capacities, which I’m not sure I agree with. I think a representation of the work, like the images provided here is something different than the work itself. Without speaking in absolutes, most art is designed to be oppositional to the body, at least in an experiential capacity. I think my work tries to deal with this object-image relationship in a very direct way.
How did your interest in art begin? I’m not really sure I have a good answer for that one. When I was an Undergraduate, it took me a long time to even realize that the things I was thinking, or interested in, even had anything to do with art. I think like most, I just started visually consuming to sustain myself, through film, then literature and eventually objects. As for my conceptual concerns, the first time I visited the Tabasco factory in Louisiana could potentially have played a part.
How has living in Chicago affected your art practice? Well, I moved to Chicago for Grad School, so the city itself has had a great impact on my work, considering the artists and curators I’ve studied under. At first, I think I was naively hesitant to be away from NY or LA, but ultimately found that Chicago is maybe one of the more positive places to marinate during graduate study. It has some of the more exciting and experimental spaces that are complimented with the accessibility of the larger institutions. But more than anything, I think the city’s rich musical and architectural history is something that I think about a lot.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I eat and shit the same quarter over and over to make sculpture.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Predominantly I work with an image transfer process, in which I can inkjet print images on a specialized Polyvinyl Alcohol transparency, then transfer those images onto three dimensional objects. I do this by building massive water tanks in the studio and laying the printed transparencies on the surface of the water, after a chemical activator that I make is applied, I can then push the object of choice though the liquefied image and adhere it to the three dimensional structure.
I use Jeff Wall’s essay, Photography and Liquid Intelligence, as a way to build on an understanding that connects the wetness of traditional image making to more archaic and historical forms of manual labor surrounding water. There seems to be something about the physicality as I carry buckets of water back and forth to fill the tanks, using hoists and cranks to raise and lower the objects and ultimately liquefying the image, as a means of acknowledging our inundated state.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Carol Bove had a show at Maccarone I saw in NY a few months ago that was pretty great. I also saw Mike Kelly’s retrospective at PS1 last week, which totally blew my mind.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I’ve been invited to participate in a group show in Puerto Rico this month and another in Chelsea, in early February. But two other artists and myself will be showing some new work here in Chicago at Roots and Culture, Opening January 24th. Come out, should be fun!
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I had the opportunity to show some work at SAIC’s booth at EXPO Chicago. I showed a sculpture that sits next to a really beautiful facsimile of an old fashioned doughnut that I sculpted. Long story short, I guess that it looked too real, because the maintenance crew swept it up with the trash and threw it out. Which was actually pretty flattering, and much more poetic than selling the thing.
Artist of the Week: Bridget Collins
Bridget Collins is an artist originally from Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from Pratt Institute in 2012 and now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
How did your interest in art begin? When I was a kid I was obsessed with movies, I wanted to be an actress. Then I went to middle school where I didn’t get cast in the school play and my world completely fell apart. Around the same time, my parents bought a video camera, and I then decided I would be a director. You can’t be rejected if you are the director, right? So I would film my friends all the time and make short movies. The same place I was taking video classes offered photo classes so I took that up also and slowly realized that photography was a medium that much better suited my interests than film. I really like the simplicity of photography. Instead of taking an idea and turning it into this big video production that requires lots of different people and locations and editing, you can distill everything into a single image. And then if you are scatterbrained and have a hard time focusing on one thing, you can make images of many different thoughts fairly quickly and then kind of see how they all fit together. There is definitely something about the quickness of the medium that appeals to me. I don’t really plan projects out ahead of time, I just have some loose ideas and try everything I think of and if it doesn’t work out then I try something else.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I currently have work in a show curated by Kuba Ryniewicz at The NewBridge Project in Newcastle, England. Earlier this year, me and four artist friends traveled to Madeira for a residency program and created a website that documented our travels and process. We also published a bulletin every week that we are planning on compiling with our finished works to make a book. We are also planning an exhibition, hopefully for sometime early on in the new year. I contribute to and sometimes help curate Chris Nosenzo's experimental publication Packet Biweekly. I am working on a collaborative project combining painting and photography with Anthony Cudahy which I am excited about. I have been coping with the short winter days by going outside to make cyanotypes at least once a week.
What is your ideal studio situation/workspace? Big windows, lots of natural light. Something I have actually had a very hard time finding in New York.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I think about this all the time. When I figure it out maybe I won’t do art anymore. Someday I would love to be an art teacher or work with kids.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I like being alone, I’m not interested in taking photos that tell a cohesive story or follow a linear concept (though I think in the end there are obvious themes that run through my work). I don’t really care about what the pictures look like in the end. I like the sun.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I went to go see the Richard Serra show that is currently up at Gagaosian. In one of the galleries there were large steel walls that converged into points, making a zigzag shape. I walked as far as I could into the corner of one of the convergences, and just beyond my reach, in the corner, was a little spider web. It was a beautiful, small, accidental addition to the sculpture. I’ve been meaning to go back to see if its still there.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in the studio? This is a constant evolution. A staple over the years has been Coke Zero, my soft drink of choice. When I was in school I lived off of the Big Texas cinnamon rolls that were sold in the vending machine. I used to sneak them into the digital labs while I was scanning film. My new vice is smoking this nicotine-free e-cigarette I bought offline. I’m essentially just sucking in air and blowing it out, but through this external device. It feels very zen to me, like I’m really thinking actively about my breathing.
How has living in NY affected your art practice? Living in New York has made me hyper aware of space and nature and light, probably because these things are in such short supply here. I was talking with my friend Eric Wiley's parents at an event a few weeks ago and they said that New York is a city without a horizon, which is really true and quite haunting to think about. I'm from the midwest which is very vast. The days feel longer there because the sun doesn't hide behind the tall buildings. I think in New York it can be easy to loose perspective because you are so enclosed within the city. That being said, I also really love it here. There are so many inspiring creative people and interesting things to look at. I just wish I could travel a bit more.
What are you listening to right now? Right now I am listening to a song called Gone Forever by Ulrich Schnauss. I have just been informed he is a German electro-musician. I am in the passenger seat of a car on its way to Pittsburg, PA. I don’t think I will ever listen to this song again. Now the song has changed to one titled On My Own. And that’s how I’m going to bring this back to my art practice, I love being On My Own when I make art! Thanks Ulrich for wrapping this one up :)
Artist of the Week: Alex Turgeon
Alex Turgeon lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He received his BFA from Emily Carr University (CA) and Kunsthochschule Weißensee (DE) in 2010 and has since participated in exhibitions in North America and Europe. In 2011 he participated in the visual arts residency From Tool Box for a Serving Library lead by Dexter Sinister at the Banff Centre for the Arts (CA). From 2011 he has been presenting poetry projects in the form of readings, performances and publications. He is also the founding editor at General Fine Arts, a quarterly e-journal focused on poetry, prose and fiction.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. I moved to Vancouver when I was thirteen and studied sculpture at Emily Carr University, as well as a year stint as an exchange student in Berlin between 2008-2009. After finishing my degree I moved back to Berlin, where I have been based sense 2011. Recently I have been focusing on poetry and photography in my work, and looking at how to combine the two mediums through publications or video. That being said my work is not medium specific as it can range from installation to readings and performance. I am more interested in exploring relationships between formal and social systems in my work, such as gender, sexuality and capitalism.
Best Friends (Diptych), Chain with Pendant, 2013
How long have you lived in Berlin and what brought you there? About three and a half years in total. As I mentioned earlier I originally came here to study, but fell in love with Berlin quite naturally, which appears to be an epidemic here…Berlin seemed like the most appropriate place to try out being an artist after school, I had a base here from studying and it was a big enough city that things were still in flux, Berlin still gave the impression of possibility. It was also much easier to move to Berlin, then say New York. The romance of living in Berlin has kind of faded away for me, but I still enjoy living here. I guess it is home for me to some regard.
Best Friends (Diptych), Chain with Pendant, 2013 (Detail)
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Since last summer I have been working with Berlin based e-publisher Version House on developing a quarterly e-journal with a focus on poetry, prose and fiction. The e-journal is titled General Fine Arts and we launched the first issue this past September in New York at Cleopatra’s. The publication’s mandate is to incorporate newly commissioned works from writers, visual artists, musicians, etc. with republished works. Each issue is loosely thematic, however my interest in producing this publication is to foster relationships and connections between style and thematics from the past, present and future, rather than be a surgery of the now. General Fine Arts also is focused on expanding the field of creative writing through the platform of e-publishing, looking to challenge and expand how writing is published as well as presented. I am currently working on the second issue which is slated to be launched sometime in end of January 2014.
Best Friends (Diptych), Chain with Pendant, 2013 (Detail)
What past trends in art do you think should never come back? I find the term “trends” in art rather problematic. I think that in historicizing art, works have been canonized as a way of understanding where they come from, rather than being something styled to keep up with an aesthetic sensibility. Of course there are artists and markets that feed of the idea of “newness”, as well as artists that become factories to produce variations on a theme to feed supply and demand. I am really against these models in my work, I am interested in responding to my environment, my experiences, and how these are filtered through my artistic language. If for some reason a fellow artist exists within the same environment and shares similar experiences then perhaps there would be similarities. However I feel the pressure for young artists to keep up with the aesthetics of an idea of “now” rather problematic.
Thoughts for Food, C-Print, 2013
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I don’t have a Netflix account.
Installation view, Room with a View, 2013 (Detail)
What are you reading right now? Aliens & Anorexia by Chris Kraus, Visions of Excess by Georges Bataille and also snipping in and out of The Dream Police, Selected Poems 1969-1993 by Dennis Cooper. I have this problem where I will pick up a book and read half of it then pick up another one at the same time and read a bit then go back and forth. I just go through phases of interests. At the moment am exploring more fiction and creative writing. I feel it nourishes my creativity.
Installation view, Room with a View, 2013
What artists are you interested in right now? Paul Thek hands down, his work has really been resonating with me right now, its very visceral. I first saw a show of his work at a group show with Luc Tuymans in 2012 and was quite mesmerized by this weird queerified Beuysian future-past tomb aesthetic to the work. As if the treasures of some pharaoh’s tomb from the future where unearthed and placed within an exhibition space. The artist as subject, but also as representation. It really showed the breadth of this work. Also I have been rethinking/rehashing my interest in David Wojnarowicz and the subsequent New York scene in the late 80’s, including Jack Smith. I read Wojnarowicz’s “Close To Knives” some years ago I remember his aggression and sensitivity really coming through. Around that same time I was also reading “Safe” by Dennis Cooper. I feel like these two pieces are really vibrating for me, like some sort of Pandora’s box. I would like to look at them again, I think its a good time to look back at these works.
But on a more contemporary note I recently saw a show of Henrik Olsen’s work here in Berlin which was probably one of my favourite shows I have seen in a long time (at least all year), he has such a way with subtleties. I feel his work (or at least this show) was so fantastically poetic and romantic, but also very sinister. I like the way he thinks about the whole architecture of the space, down to the holes in the wall.
There is this Paul Thek quote that Kraus brings up in Aliens & Anorexia that I feel is a great way of responding to this idea of “trend” that was brought up earlier:
"The name of the game seemed to be ‘how cool can you be’ and ‘how refined.’ Nobody ever mentioned anything that seemed real. The world was falling apart, anyone could see it. I was a wreck, the block was a wreck, the city was a wreck; and I’d go to a gallery and there’d be a lot of people looking at stuff that didn’t say anything about anything anymore" - 1981
Marble Tongue, HD Video 6’00” Loop, 2013
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? My process is somewhat convoluted, but I have been pulling mostly from a personal history and abstracting it. I have an interest in painting, but have such a difficult time believing in myself as a painter. I feel that my compositions are based on abstract painting, a tendency towards formalism, looking for meaning in abstraction, allowing for it to become illustrative and vice versa. I am interested in modes of translation, not just between different languages, but also dialects and how words, or texts, function both as a written and spoken language. When I was doing my undergrad in Vancouver I had a studio visit with a visiting professor and he said something that will last with me forever: “you have to create your own cosmology”. This is something that has really influenced how I conceptualize ideas and think about formal and thematic connections in my practice.
Bonfire of the Vanities, C-Print, 2012
Describe your current studio or workspace. For the better part of the year I have been working somewhere between the library and my apartment. This has been a very positive as well as frustrating experiment for me, as I have been with a studio basically since art school. Mostly it has allowed me to take more of a step back and think of alternative ways of production, focusing on the planning exhibitions and works, working through problems mentally. Just recently I acquired some new studio space, which I have yet to move into, but I am really looking forward to finding out what will come from it.
Serviette 1, C-Print and Hanging Materials, 2013
If you were a drink what drink would you be? Although I have never tried it, there is a brand of soda in Germany called Schwip Schwap which is a product of Pepsi that is a mix of Cola and Orange Soda. I think thats sort of a way of summing me up in a beverage…
A rose by any other name, C-Print, 2013
Artist of the Week: Andrew Brischler
Andrew Brischler (b. 1987, Long Island, NY) lives and works in New York, NY.
Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts MFA program in 2012, Brischler’s work has appeared in exhibitions throughout New York City and abroad. In 2012, Brischler opened his first solo exhibition, Goodbye to All That, at Gavlak Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. That same year, Brischler’s work was featured in New American Paintings #98: Northeast Edition. In 2013, he was included in the exhibition 39greatjones curated by Ugo Rondinone at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, Switzerland; he contributed work to the Whitney Museum of American Art Benefit Art Party Auction, and he was featured in a two-person booth alongside photographer David Haxton with Gavlak Gallery at NADA New York. In October 2013, Brischler was awarded a 2013 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Arts Grant.
Currently, Brischler just opened his second solo exhbition with Gavlak Gallery in November 2013 as well as be featured in Gavlak Gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach this December. In addition, Brischler’s work will be included in a group show This is the Story of America focusing on young New York painters at Brand New Gallery in Milan, Italy, and in January 2014, Brischler will contribute a new large scale painting to a major group survey, Painting: A Love Story, at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Texas.
Andrew Brischler is represented by Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Andrew Brischler. I grew up on Long Island, received my BFA from SUNY New Paltz in 2009, and received my MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2012. I used to say that I was an abstract painter, but recently I’ve dropped the “abstract” part––something just didn’t sound right about it. So I’ll just say that I’m a painter.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? First of all, I’d just like to come clean and fess up to being a proud subscriber of cable television, a fact which I’ve become increasingly shameful about being a twenty-something living in Brooklyn. Right now, I’m totally immersed in American Horror Story: Coven (Angela Bassett hasn’t channeled vengeance this expertly since her seminal role in Waiting to Exhale), and if I’m not at my studio on Sunday afternoons, I usually find myself entrenched in an hours-long Roseanne marathon on WEtv; Roseanne is, without a doubt, my favorite sitcom and continues to stay, almost 15 years after it’s series finale, totally relevant.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I think any young artist with some semblance of “buzz” around his or her work deals with a level of doubt and dread. Honestly, I constantly struggle with issues of self-worth, the work never feeling really good enough (whatever that means), and how it fits––if at all––into the dialogue of the New York art world. It’s a balancing act; you want to make work that will get you noticed but is also still inexplicably, deeply you. And then I look at these guys with an incredible amount of white heat around them––Lucien Smith, Sam Falls, Jacob Kassay, Oscar Murillo—who two years ago made work in relative obscurity and are now being thrown around by mega galleries, seeing work they made 12 months ago up at auction, and they’re still expected to make good work? It all makes my head spin.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? My work takes notions of weakness as an abstract painter and connects them to my own personal feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness as a gay man. To that end, I recycle standard tropes of abstraction. Hard edged geometry, super-saturated color gradients, bold stripes, and thick bands of impastoed paint are isolated onto studio-beaten canvas, and embedded with pieces of contemporary culture like fragments of typography, nonsensical doodles, and titles culled from hip-hop lyrics. The finished paintings are at once pieces of cultural detritus as well as documents of my own uneasiness: images that conflate definitions of success and failure, chance and contrivance, aloofness and emotional unraveling.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I’m really devoted to traditional materials––oil paint, acrylic paint, colored pencils, markers, and graphite. My process is usually driven by an initial image in my head inspired by anything from the typeface of a movie poster to color combinations in Paul Klee’s early work. Then it’s just about execution, and depending on the type of piece I’m working on, the execution can take anywhere from a week (my recent Air paintings are all about 5-6 glazes of oil paint on smoothly gessoed canvas) to 2-3 months for the colored pencil drawings on panel; the colored pencil pieces are exhausting, frustrating, tedious, and seriously painful for my hand; that notion of labor, discipline, self-sacrifice, and slow punishment is so important to the conceptual success of them.
What artists are you interested in right now? This is a short mix of all time favorites and current obsessions: Mary Heilmann, Alex Katz, Wade Guyton, Bjarne Melgaard, John McCracken, David Wojnarowicz, Cindy Sherman, Dana Schutz, Ed Ruscha, Mark Grotjahn, Matt Connors, Wendy White, Rob Pruitt, Joe Bradley, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, Ugo Rondinone, Christopher Wool, and last but certainly not least, my boss, Marilyn Minter.
How has your work developed within the past year? I think my practice has made a complete 180-degree change since finishing grad school in May 2012. I went straight from undergraduate school right into my graduate program, which meant that until recently I had never made work outside of an academic context––that is to say, without constant engagement with peers, professors, visiting critics, and those latent trends in painting that develop subconsciously within art schools. Since then, I’ve begun making work in a bigger, brighter, completely private studio, and the change has been dramatic. The work has gotten bigger, cleaner, become significantly more labor intensive, and has shifted away from the trend of “provisional painting” that I and many of my peers embraced. I’ve really become invested in the craft of painting and drawing––how the slow build up of material with my hands creates a deep, embedded sense pathos to the object.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? The Martin Creed shows up now at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Hauser & Wirth are pretty amazing. I haven’t seen the Mike Kelley show at MoMA PS1 yet, but I’m going to preemptively say that one will definitely be a game changer for me.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Without a doubt, my guilty pleasure in the studio is a two-pack of brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts from the bodega around the corner.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? One word: SoulCycle.
What are you listening to right now? On current heavy rotation: Lady Gaga, ARTPOP (it isn’t good, but “Gypsy” is revelatory); Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin on WNYC; the Mary J. Blige Christmas Album, A Mary Christmas; CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe; Janet Jackson, Number Ones; Madonna, Bedtime Stories; and most recently, the score to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, composed by Ennio Morricone.
Artist of the Week: Camila Oliveira Fairclough
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, then I lived in South Africa for six years close to Johannesburg, since 1999. I’m based in Paris. I started my practice in Rio at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage with Nelson Leirner and Luiz Ernesto Moraes and then I moved to Paris, and I obtained my diploma at the Ecole des Beaux arts de Paris with Jean-Marc Bustamante and P2F (Bernard Piffaretti Sylvie Fanchon and Dominique Figarella). My work is a traditional work of painting in a classical sense: I use canvas, brushes, paint (I show it). The fabric often left aside is visible as is sometimes the stretcher by transparency, I leave brush marks, pencil drawing. I use different sources in order to discuss issues of painting. Looking for a simple relationship with the painting and I love working with little means. I usually find the reasons I paint by chance in everyday life, without seeking or a logical system. I am interested in all sorts of topics: packaging, posters, songs, a tablesaw in a museum or in a book, everything that can stop my eyes or my ear around me at any given time. I am also interested in how we can remake/translate what we have seen, rewrite what we have read and or heard. This is the work of painting, I meet these things and they become subjects of painting (as in a diary).
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?
Upcoming- 2014 Culture Hors Sol (4th edition), Théâtre de Poche de Hédé - Rennes / Invited by Damien Krempf and Vincent Collet / France.
Upcoming- 2014 Galerie Emmanuel Hervé solo show and Arco Art Fair
Upcoming- Dust, The plates of the present - photogram project, Organized by Jo-ey Tang and Thomas Fougeirol 2013
Current- “o desejo se torna visível pelo destinatário” Lisboa, Portugual invited by Corentin Canesson, 2013
Current- MSUM, Ljubljana Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova in collaboration with Maska, curated by Zdenka Badovinac, Invited by Charlie Jeffery / Slovenia
Current- January 2013 ArtRio, Galeria Emmanuel Hervé / Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? Time! I try to spend time doing something and try not to see time pass.
How did your interest in art begin? It was more like a need, a way of seeing, I was quite young.
How has living in Paris affected your art practice? I like to live in the city where I live; it’s a shame the lack of interest in painting.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? It is difficult to talk about painting, is always better to see. I think that a painting isn’t really only an object. It’s something else at the same time.
Tell us a joke. “A joke!” I don’t know jokes. I know a funny little pictorial history. I painted a table to file papers during a presentation at the school, the table was not dry in time, I set the table in a corner and began the presentation, then I realized my three teachers were sitting on it.
What artists are you interested in right now? I’m always interested in Thea Djordjadze, Hermine Bourgadier, Virginie Yassef, Ulla von Brandenburg, Frenanda Gomes, Raffaella della Olga, Emmanuel Van der Meulen, Madeleine Aktypi, Warhol, Duchamp, Rene Daniëls, Walter Swennen, Ed Ruscha, Martina Klein, Claude Closky, Joe Bradley, Bernard Piffaretti, Karina Bisch, Nicolas Chardon, Alexandre Desirée, Stephanie Kiwitt, Robert Breer, Helio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Guy de Cointet, Josh Smith, Beatriz Milhazes, John Aarmleder, Olivier Mosset…
What do you do when you’re not working on art? I go to the gym, I drive, I spend time on the internet, I talk to my therapist, and I try to sleep.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? When I was young I always said that I was torn between hairdresser, ophthalmologist, or archaeologist.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? The best and the worst was a spit.
Artist of the Week: Cody Tumblin
Cody Tumblin is a Chicago based artist from Nashville, Tennessee. He is a recent recipient of a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From his background in graphic design, Cody approaches his practice with a nod to type, semiotics, and the like. Generic decorative icons and subtle cryptic messages become inflated into uncertain mosaics of pattern, image, shape, contour and line. His time outside the studio is spent seeking out the best food in Chicago, expanding his library, collecting artwork and printed ephemera, and constantly watching any and all horror movies with his wife, Kayl Parker. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at The Salon for The Salon Series, SHIT IS REAL at Devening Projects + Editions (2013), a two person show, Pile Hunk Stage, with Kayl Parker at Gallery X (2013), Crossing the Palisades at SAIC (2013), and The Prospective Series pop-up gallery at Untitled (2013).
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in a small town just south of Nashville, TN and lived there until I came to school at SAIC in Chicago, where I live now with my wife, Kayl Parker, also an artist. Although I’m considered the artist in my family, my older brother was on the news for his artwork when he was in 4th grade. Ironically now, he’s pursuing his PhD in history, and I’m the one pursuing a career in the art world. I went from pursuing an English major, to the fashion department, to the visual communications/design world, and finally to just art. Ultimately though, my foundation is design-based. Learning that kind of approach and skillset really informed how I make art and how I read aesthetics.
I enjoy “floating” between the art and design worlds, and seeing where things meet up/ keeping up with trends and work on both ends is a large part of my routine.
I constantly absorb anything and everything at all times. I definitely admit I’m a bit of a social media nerd, and alongside running two of my own blogs, twitter acct, etc. I check at least 20+ blogs daily, alongside a few journals/magazines I can get my hands on. You know, there’s always a lot of conversation on how an artist should either be aware of what’s going on or completely ignore all the hype, all the trends and just make. But I’ve always loved pouring over images and text. It really fuels my practice. Aside from that, I work at Whole Foods right now haha.
But I’m primarily a painter. I make dyed paintings with dye on cotton. And do a bit of this and that, drawing here and there. I stick to simple images and color is a huge backbone of my practice. Bits and pieces things come together. I like to think it’s not all so complicated.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? Typically, I try to force my work to portray a kind of attitude, something similar to the way Rebecca Morris’s Abstract Manifesto conveys a “fuck everything and go for it” kind of façade. “BLACK AND BROWN: THAT SHIT IS THE FUTURE.” I really enjoy it when work has this kind of persona. But typically, to gear myself into a kind of mode, I begin with drawing tons of thumbnails and wireframes. Just generating out crap, pushing out lots of similar compositions and images until I get into a good “zone” and things start to feel right. Sometimes words in all caps, sometimes there’s poetry and sentences. I like to use the word “shitty” a lot, and it comes up a lot in my drawings. It conveys the dumbness of the imagery/ drawing style while simultaneously carrying that attitude I mentioned earlier. So the work has to reflect that. I like it when the forms and space don’t sit quite right, so I try and keep myself sort of unbalanced.
Alongside the thumbnails, I keep a huge folder full of iPhone snap shots and things I drag off of blogs––things like snippets of a shitty screenprint of corn cobs on a box, to lots of posters/flyers, border motifs, “KISS” carved into cement outside my apartment. Mostly it’s design based. Type, design, and the forms that come along with editorial spreads and book covers really get me going. So I keep those handy when I’m generating my imagery.
All of this eventually boils down into something that agrees with me, and I put it into final production. This consists of preparing the fabric, lots of washing and ironing, mixing the dyes, getting the colors right. This is usually the easy part because I’m just laying down color/plotting things out and editing things out of/into the fabric until things balance out.
What are you reading right now? Well I just finished Ender’s Game haha. I was rereading it in prep for the movie (which was horrible, don’t see it) because I hadn’t read it since middle school. I’m always reading something of Stephen King’s. Usually his short stories. But I also just finished Joshua Abelow’s A Painter’s Journal, which was excellent. It was a bit like the soap opera of an Artist’s Life. But I loved it. Mostly just because it was exciting to peek into his life for me.
What artists are you interested in right now? That’s always tough. I’m always absorbing other people’s work. Every time I see work I like, I make a folder with the artist’s name and drag images into it. Same goes for new work of artists I already have. So I have a pretty hefty library of a few hundred folders by now.
But primarily, I always come back to Gary Hume. Got to see/learn quite a bit about him while I lived in London for 6 months. Joshua Abelow is also a constant presence in my mind. His work is phenomenal. Really nails it. And I check ART BLOG ART BLOG every day, usually 2-3 times haha. Christopher Knowles drawings are a huge one. Others would be Josh Smith, Henning Bohl, Allison Katz, Daan Van Golden, Arturo Herrera to name a few. Also, David Shrigley is another artist that I really look up to. It’s brilliant, flawless work, and it has a presence and attitude that most art will never be able to portray.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I recently found this book called “The X Directory: Kink Cards 1984/1994” while I was studying at Goldsmiths in London 2 summers ago. I bought it immediately. Amazing scans of kinky business cards that were taken from London telephone booths and street signs, advertising all sorts of devious acts and sexual desires of your wildest dreams. The typefaces, arrangements, and images are just brilliant, and at the same time they’re very naïve and DIY looking, much like punk zines. Most them are just made on Xerox machines. I can’t get enough.
Other things are those enormous mind blowing ornate drop caps found in old Manuscripts. Also, generally horror movies. My wife and I are always watching horror movies.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I like to keep a little mystery shrouded around my current work, but there’s definitely a lot of something “new” going on. I’ve been building a new series of paintings that rely more directly on type and more recognizable imagery. Things that think/feel like icons. I’ve been embracing my writing a bit more. I am also juggling a few newer things outside of my paintings that are weird. There might be some steel stuff in the near future. I’ve also been investing back into drawing more than anything, and making these sort of odd abstracted “flash sheets” with ink, which are getting translated into some interesting projects that I’m stoked about.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? 1) ART BLOG Like I said, I love Joshua Abelow’s work, and I love art blogs. So this is a 2 for one deal. He keeps really up to date with the art world and pulls out some random things occasionally. Always interesting.
2) Gilded Beast, Half Man Half Skeleton (my own blogs). My blogs and the blogs that influence them are a big part of my life. I enjoy building up a repertoire of artists and seeing what others are doing. I enjoy the community surrounding them.
3) Amazon.com. Kayl and I buy a lot of stuff online. And we’re huge book freaks so I have a huge, HUGE wishlist just full of artist monographs, cookbooks, zines, and the like. (If you want to get me anything for Christmas, just look there.)
Who is your ideal studio mate? Well right now it’s my wife, Kayl Parker. And honestly that’s the most ideal. It’ll probably always be this way. We get along really well, obviously. And since she’s a studio photographer, she’s rarely in the studio to take a photo, so our schedules balance out nicely. I like to sit in there by myself and work a bit, listen to some metal or rap, eat some chocolate covered pretzels, draw.
Describe your current studio or workspace I actually love our studio. We just started renting it in October. Little room in a large building full of other artists. Tall white walls with a big double window. Everything is Ikea. Ikea table, Ikea broom, Ikea glasses, Ikea Shelves––full of dyes, chemicals, rubber gloves, bottles, graduated cylinders, scales. It looks a bit like a science lab. We have a nice little fridge for Kayl’s film and my dyes. We always keep some Cheerios, peanut butter, granola bars, crackers and chocolate on deck. I also keep part of my loose leaf tea and tea cup collection there for civil enjoyment. Other than that there’s a big Ikea table with all my drawings, boxes full of fabric and color samples, and all of Kayl’s photo stuff––lights/poles/backdrops just hanging out in the corner. But we like to keep it clean and orderly. I like to sweep and pace around like I’m on to something.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? For the moment, no immediate shows are ahead which is nice. I just finished a solo show with The Salon Series and an awesome group show at Devening Projects + Editions earlier this year. I’m just building up work and taking my time, eating junk food in the studio and singing to Jay-Z. The usual. But I’ve been working on two secret collaborative projects with some artist/designer contacts recently, so you might hear about those soon. Top secret area 51 stuff.