Can you tell us about yourself? Where did your artist passion begin? How did art become your work occupation?
Like many artists I started by copying comic book characters and cartoons as a child. As a troubled youth it was art that allowed me a creative outlet that eventually led to seeing the possibilities for both a physical and conceptual engagement with ideas. It fulfilled an empty space inside me somehow. Being working class with no introduction to anything remotely connected to modern art it was by reading books that the vista opened in front of me. From that time I have been fully committed to a life in art, through many difficult years of struggle. Making that commitment to this activity was the best decision I ever made. It gave me meaning and direction. I went to university for undergrad and grad programs and started being offered exhibitions and years later here we are today.
Out of curiosity, do you have a daily routine such as habits or morning rituals to channel a productive workday in the studio?
Kind of.. I have set studio days. On other days I have curatorial projects, friends and family days and other things I have to do. For those days devoted to painting in the studio I wake up and immediately make tea. I check email to clear distractions and make sure I am timely in responding to people. Then I walk in to the studio and take a fresh look around while drinking my tea. I will have been thinking about options regarding the paintings I am working on throughout the rest of the time when I am not in the studio so I get straight to it. I leave the studio for lunch, if I remember to eat. I listen to music or put a tv series on the computer, which I follow as background noise. I stay in the studio until dinner time around 7pm when I catch up on the daily news, make more emails, do some note taking about thoughts I had in the studio – then I chill and de-stress with LaLena, my partner, until the next morning….
If someone were to ask, how would you describe your artwork?
Depends on the person asking but basically this: The basis for my paintings has always been essentially about mortality, as seen through the merging contradictions of disparate elements of my life. This interpenetration occurs when the histories of abstract mark making, an ongoing developing iconography and sub-cultural motifs are placed in relationships on the picture plane. Colloquialisms and urban vernacular appear alongside art history, references to Brutalist architecture, comic books, skateboards, motorcycle club life, etc to explore masculine identity within a transient lifetime. This allows for an extended and negotiated dialogue between ideas of the political and class division, subcultural resistance and tribalism. They are built of these separate underlying elements, and like the Frankenstein monster, the sum adds up to more than its parts…
What projects or works are currently in progress inside the studio?
I have started making sculptures again and am still finding my way with them, after many years of concentrating fully on painting alone. They accompany the paintings in some strange relationship which encompasses the MC life too. They are a bit of a mystery to me at the moment…. There are many shows coming up for me in 2020 so I need to assign which paintings go to which show and to keep making new ones, as usual. The great thing about being an artist is that there are always new art works to make and keep one focussed and engaged.
What is your style? Is the artwork pre-planned or improvised?
My style, such as it is, is bold and colorful, large scale, energetic. I want them to be visually arresting and to reflect the drive, hope and intensity that I feel. I think they appeal most to people that take risks and who are open to new experiences, but also appreciate depth and integrity. They are totally improvised in terms of paint application but I do have a vision of some of the end-point ambitions for them that I need to achieve. I have a fair idea of an approach to use as well as a clear desire for what they will need to accomplish. With that said, the actual process is entirely improvised, with aesthetic, compositional and relational decisions made as I go. After a period of working this way I walk away from the work for awhile and then return with a more dispassionate eye to re-access what has happened and to make a more rational, considered editorializing set of actions to correct weaker areas, remove distractions, add necessary elements and to clarify direction. This back and forth goes on until I feel that the work no longer has room for maneuver and is, at least for that moment, finished. This process can be swift – a couple of weeks – to extended – a number of years. I often go back and rework my paintings over time, until they are removed from my studio by the gallery for exhibition.
What are the upcoming plans for the remaining year?
I have shows for 2020 coming up in London, Beijing, Los Angeles, Brisbane, Mexico City, Miami, Stockholm and some other cities. That keeps me very busy. My travel plans revolve around this schedule. If I can do a decent job with these exhibitions I will not have too much time for other plans, ha, ha.
When it comes to Instagram, what are the pros and cons of using the profile? Do you consider Instagram an important platform for today’s’ working artists?
My favorite thing about Instagram is seeing the work of other artists, often in other countries where it would otherwise be unlikely I would ever have discovered their work. It is exciting to realize that there are other artists around the world who share your concerns and even your aesthetic. I get inspired by seeing their works. A danger for some artists lies in making work for the Instagram click/view, I think. That easy feedback from a small image is seductive. The way I combat this is by adjusting something on my paintings after the image for Instagram, Facebook, a catalog, newspaper or such has been taken. This usually involves adding touches to the painting so that the image is NOT a direct and true reflection of the reality of the painting. It is a substitute image to reference only. The reality insists the need to view the paintings in person is paramount. The exhibition is where you truly see what is there, not the image. The person that owns the work or the exhibition venue are the only places to see the actual, real work, with its changes made after the image was taken! A little subversive, I hope! I remain unconvinced by tales of sales via the platform as they always seem to be about ‘a friend’ somewhat like urban myths! I suspect galleries may find some of their future artists this way, or at least I hope they do. Collectors using it? Maybe to discover someone to follow but I have not experienced that sales aspect personally. Realistically it is a new technology for artists. The future is open, of course, so we can only wait and see….
Could you mention any artistic influences and how their influence impacted you and your practice?
Probably too many to list fully. I am very influenced by philosophy and science in the ways I understand how art, knowledge and meaning might work. For me at least, it is important to situate my paintings within a context that recognizes the ways that science can describe how the human mind works. A deep understanding of art history and the interpretations of art are incredibly useful and reward in-depth study. The more one learns about art and its history the more appreciative one becomes of the subtleties and complexities that this most human of activities reflects from us. In terms of artistic influence – everything I see!!! There is something to be learned by every work of art one sees. Even a bad art work can teach a valuable lesson, in what not to do. Basquiat, Bacon, Rae were powerful early influences and still are. I could list 100 artists and it would not be enough – I am a sponge for visual art.
Where should interested collectors buy your artwork?
In Los Angeles I am represented by Patrick Painter Inc, and I also work with Durden and Ray. In Brisbane, Australia I am proud to show at TW Fine Art. Go to Gallery Lara in Tokyo and ICFA in Beijing, and recently added, GCC Arte Contempraneo in Merida, Mexico.
What do you hope your paintings will address with the viewer?
I am interested in what the act of painting means and how it can explore multiple avenues of enquiry simultaneously. From existential questions, to an awareness of presence and mortality, to notions of masculine codes and gender, all can be encompassed, for me, within the structures of thought and application of material that painting represents. When I die my paintings are what will remain. They contain my memories, hopes and dreams. An identity of sorts and the drive towards cognitive meaning, all within the political possibilities in painting.The viewer can engage and interpret this visual thought process of mine. It is selfcentered to ask that of anyone, of course, but it is what I have to offer.
Is there a link to your curatorial practice?
The paintings reflect a curatorial model of selection and placement too, of the key motifs of my developing language of forms, marks and gestures. This leaves them in a form of community, all elements in a dynamic relationship of meaning, a social model of knowledge – like an exhibition. Modular, within the boundaries of the canvas as a performative arena, a stage or set where decision making engages the very human need to provide networks of understanding and cognitive associations. It is a rare space where responsibility, of identity, of choice, is focused. I see this as a twin-like relationship between my practice and my curatorial approach.
Tell our readers any thoughts you want to share.
When looking at art: Consider the long term – good art keeps you interested because it expands your boundaries and asks questions rather than giving you answers so a dialogue continues with it. What you are interacting with is the human mind at work from years of consideration and development. Take due diligence with it, please