Artist Statement, FAME©
"Celebrity isn't just harmless fun, it's the smiling face of the corporate machine." George Monbiot.
This show will consist of two distinctly different styles of paintings: photorealism and abstraction. A few years ago, I found myself really questioning the idea of spending three weeks to paint a single image, while seeing thousands of images on a daily basis. This idea has been pecking at the back of my brain ever since. When the question first hit I thought doing abstract paintings was the solution, so I abandoned my technique, holed up in my studio in Berlin, and set out to develop an abstract style that I liked. This seemed to be the solution. But as I painted more and more abstract paintings, I realized I was just adding more and more images to the sea of image pollution. I was making more commodities. Furthermore, this abstraction wasn't freeing. The paintings needed to be similar. They needed to have a brand. That brand needed to be recognizable, and hopefully have some cultural cache. That cache needed to make my paintings into the wall version of a louis vuitton purse; a status symbol, showcasing the owner's excellent taste. I really think this is the fatal flaw that art currently finds itself faced up against under a capitalist system. Even "anti-establishment" art must engage in market principles of branding. What will art be when freed from the restraints of commodity? I can't answer that, but this exercise in abstraction gave me a different outlook both on my photorealistic and abstraction work. I needed to develop a new series of realistic paintings that were as narcissistic, obsessive, and as doted over as the painting technique of photorealism itself. And the abstract paintings needed to be as senseless, vapid, and aesthetically pleasing as the primary medium medium where the majority of people would be viewing them: Instagram. Home of the perfectly curated image. The model for social networking. Out of this came my current series of self-portraits as celebrities, and my abstract series title The Narcissist Works. For the photorealist portraits I set out to temporarily become these cultural icons. These examples of perfection. The perfect way to be a rebel. How artists are supposed to look. The perfect man. Kurt Cobain, Andy Warhol, Brad Pitt (from fight club obvz.) But I didn't want to just do it in a flippant, hipster, too cool to care way. Because I do care. I've been trained to care. I want to be Kurt Cobain. All artists want to be Andy Warhol. And anyone my age has pictured themselves taking place in a revolution, but with perfect abs. For the abstract paintings I start out very honest. Just throwing paint around, not thinking, actually having fun, not to worry "nobody will see these like this" I would think to myself. On the next step, I mull over the image for hours and hours adding little bits and pieces to perfectly construct this image that will be consumed by my peers. Doting over composition, relevant imagery. It has to be hip. I need to be loved. Once that stage reflects how cool I am as a person, I have the image printed on satin, then merge the two together. The final product is then photographed, hashtagged, and laid at the feet of the spectacle. The shinier the better.
The other part of an art show, and the often less discussed aspect, is the selling. Convention dictates to price the work at the perceived maximum a person will pay. Dismissing any nuance of value, ownership, property and most importantly stripping away any semblance of creativity in the process. What holds this system together, and keeps the steady flow of readily available works coming in? I think it's the false narrative of a Meritocracy held in place by gatekeepers that benefit from the heavy saturation and open competitiveness of a sea of artists competing for a finite resource. Artists led to believe that they too will sell their work for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if they are not currently doing so, it is either because they are not good enough, or that their notoriety just hasn't come in. Keeping artists in a naive state of arrested development. The system, as it stands, benefits only a select group of people; The artists that can sell all of their work for absurd prices, The Gallerists that own those artists, and the collectors that can afford to pay insane prices for strategically inflated commodities. And this bubble must be maintained, at all costs, by this same extremely small group of people, or the entire farce will fall flat on its face. That being said, we can either complain about the duplicity of such a rigged system, or attempt to create something new. For this show we've decided to take an approach that will benefit the middle. All of the art will be priced at 1% of the buyer's annual income. Allowing anyone that values the artwork the potential to purchase it. Also, enabling the artist (myself in this case) a more likely scenario of selling all of their work. So if the experiment works, more people will be able to collect, and more artists will be able to create. So join us this May 3rd, at The Space. Get in.