Me Eat, 2009 | Ink on paper, 36 x 55 inches
Earlier this summer we caught up with Kim Deakins, who was last included in the 2009 MFA Annual. With the 2010 MFA competition nearing the deadline (October 31! Apply online!), we’re revisiting her exciting work—and her laughably rad and ever-growing band name list. —Evan J. Garza
Featured in Editions #76 and #87 of New American Paintings, Kim Deakins loves the bizarre. Her work features a slew of colorful and odd subjects, and her website features a random (and equally amazing) list of fake band names, like Touch Hole, Funeral Hook-up, and Browned Grief. For these and many other reasons, we wanted to know more.
EJG: How was the Band Name List on your website created?
The band name page is an ongoing joke—with myself. I love music, all types, and often entertain the idea of being in a super hip electro-pop band like Gang Gang Dance or Hot Chip, but instead I decided to concentrate on making art and tattooing, which I’m very, very happy with… I like to place the genre with the name, for example, Tammy Toon and the Lipstick Duo would, ideally, be an all chick rockabilly band, and Lazer Braids would involve small Asian women… The nature of the Band Name List and the nature of art are one in the same in that they both share unlimited possibilities.
Filed under: Q&A | Tags: Art Lies, collage, Evan J. Garza, fashion, Mixed Greens, Picasso, sculpture, Zane Lewis
Zane Lewis wants to go the distance. He admittedly thinks like a DJ when creating his work, a veritable zoo of different painterly and sculptural methods that are equally chaotic as they are startlingly refined. (“Zany” would almost be too appropriate here.) Featured in editions #66 and #72 of New American Paintings, Lewis has taken the last year to remove himself from the “gallery game” to focus on making new work. Not long for any one specific studio practice, Lewis is constantly changing his work, moving from method to method, in search of a more challenging application and context. Featured in 2006 as a “(23-Year-) Old Master” in The Wall Street Journal, I caught up with the New York-based San Antonio native last week to find out what he’s been up to and why he’s into “wall power”. —Evan J. Garza
EJG: Tell me about what you’ve been working on recently.
My work has changed so significantly this last year, at least it feels like that for me. Obviously there’s conceptual and aesthetic threads that remain, but it’s very different from the type of work I was making when I was featured in New American Paintings. One year I got the back cover [of the magazine], and it was a large image of a detail shot of one of my drip paintings. They were these paint my number pieces that looked like they were spilling paint out of the shadowboxes they were in. And then when I got the cover [of #72], it was the cut painting style of work with the cut Paris Hilton piece. I am no longer making either of those bodies of work. (Laughing)
Paris, 2007 | Cut acrylic paint, 63 x 63 inches
I tend to work like that as an artist. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of coming up with a certain way of working that’s approaching things in an unconventional way, dishing it out, doing a series, and then I get bored and I want to move on and I want to kind come up with something new and stimulating for me in a new way. So I haven’t made the cut paint paintings in about two years now, and longer since I made the paint by number paintings. I do typically, in my work, have that drip aesthetic. That is still there.
Filed under: Art World, Competitions, Features, Spotlight | Tags: Chris Ballantyne, Daniel Rich, Elisa Johns, Jim Gaylord, Lisa Sanditz, Matthew Day Jackson, MFA Annual, Michael Scoggins, William Cordova
Matthew Day Jackson, August 6th, 1945 (Dresden), 2010 | Burnt wood, lead on 2 wood panels, 96 x 123 3/4 inches. Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York.
Not to toot our own horn, but there have been some pretty exceptional artists featured in the past editions of the MFA Annual competition of New American Paintings, many of whom have gone on to achieve significant international success. This month, with the 2010 MFA Annual Competition in full swing, we’re revisiting some of the strongest and most acclaimed artists to be featured in the MFA book, including Chris Ballantyne, William Cordova, Jim Gaylord, Matthew Day Jackson, Elisa Johns, Lisa Sanditz, Michael Scoggins, and Daniel Rich. (Toot toot.)
CURRENT MFA CANDIDATES: Apply online through October 31 for this year’s competition, juried by Randi Hopkins, Associate Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA). And be sure to check out our recent interview with Randi to hear what she has to say about working with emerging artists. —Evan J. Garza
Ghosts of Industrial Past, 2008 | Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches
Michelle Mackey was included in edition #60 of New American Paintings and was selected as a Noteworthy artist in edition #80. The Brooklyn-based artist has made some recent changes, not only to her paintings but some geographic changes as well. Now in Texas teaching at universities in Dallas, I caught up with Mackey this week to discuss her work, and to see if now that she’s gone black, will she ever go back. —Evan J. Garza
EJG: Last you were featured in New American Paintings in early 2009 you were working on your Portal series, which featured colorful, almost collage-like oil abstractions on canvas. Your current work is quite different, much more reductive in both composition and palette.
The Portal series was an effort to show a crack in the fabric, perhaps a reveal of another world. Not so much an escapist world, but a glimpse into what’s really going on. A bit more like the possibilities that quantum mechanics reveal. I’m always wanting to take a closer look at possibilities and at my own misunderstandings—that is what Portal was about and it is also what the recent black work is about… The “black” work is more about a slow reveal and less about a crack in the fabric. I had a more meditative approach to these paintings and I’ve been told the viewing process is also meditative, and the associations go into vast territory.
Trefoil, 2010 | Acrylic and enamel on resin-coated panel, 47 x 47 inches
EJG: Why the switch to black and white (and gray)?
In short, I reacted to the panels. I was working at a scene shop where they produce sets for TV shows. They had these black panels, essentially masonite with a black shiny resin coat, that I had seen for years but never really considered for my own work. When I was packing up my supplies for a residency at Vermont Studio Center, a co-worker challenged me to experiment on those surfaces. I said “sure” and threw them in the truck along with my canvases. The juxtaposition of multiple edges, landscapes and points of view in the Portal series was done through color and edge. In these panels, I could work with surface-sheen and precision, so my color voice needed to be quieter to allow for this. And, since it was a new surface, I did approach it quietly and reflectively. The black, white, and gray seemed clarifying to me. I felt like I was getting further into what I was searching for in the Portal series.
Filed under: In the Studio | Tags: Christopher Mir, digital media, hippies, Sam McKinniss, studio visit
Featured in edition #68 of New American Paintings, Christopher Mir’s apocalyptic dreamscapes have been gaining attention as of late, including being featured in the 2010 DeCordova Biennial. His surrealist visions of possible near futures mix mythic, archetypal characters in conflict with contemporary military and corporate threats. We met recently in his studio, a beautiful little backyard shed in Hamden, CT, where he also lives. —Sam McKinniss, contributor
SM: How do you approach image gathering? I know that you collect from a myriad of photographic sources. Do you start with an idea and just start sifting?
For the first few years, I was just feeling my way through it, but what became apparent were these isolated categories that needed to be fulfilled in order for it to feel like it was my work or for it to feel like I had something to say or do. And it basically works out of the “figure in landscape” template of the early Renaissance. That’s the project. Then, how does this digital media moment play into that and affect it?
The gathering itself is impulsive. I just sort of look and will read something or hear about something, usually a landscape or something in the world. Or like these Mormon cult-type communities where they’re still doing polygamy and stuff and I see the way the kids are dressed and I’m really into that, so I look for “Mormon children” because I like those weird dresses they wear.
Check out some of the latest entries to the MFA Competition. The deadline is October 31, so keep them coming! In order to enter the MFA Competition, you must be a current Masters of Fine Arts candidate. We’ll be updating the blog with highlights throughout the competition. Apply online!
NOTE: The following are random selections, and in no way reflect, or influence, final selections made by the juror.
Martin Arnold, “Christina in Stripes” | Oil on Panel, 32 x 48 inches
Chiara Galimberti, “No Transpassing” | Collage on Paper, 20 x 20 inches
Lauren Bartone, “Land For Sale” | Acrylic on Panel, 34 x 21 inches
Matt Lifson, “Camp Ground” | Oil on Canvas, 50 x 50 inches
Filed under: Q&A | Tags: Daniel McFarlane, Evan J. Garza, Houston, Lawndale Art Center, MFA Annual, University of Florida
Toasted Wheat II, 2010 | Acrylic on panel, 75 x 48 inches
With the 2010 MFA Annual Competition well under way (apply online!), we’re pleased to feature a Q&A with a selected artist from the 2009 MFA competition, Daniel McFarlane of edition #87, currently an artist-in-residence at the [awesome] Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX. McFarlane’s colorful work, despite appearing seemingly chaotic, retains an incredible amount of control. Back in Houston after earning his MFA at the University of Florida in Gainesville, McFarlane talks to New American Paintings about his work and why there’s nothing wrong with being a control freak. (Current MFA candidates: the deadline to apply to the current MFA Annual Competition is October 31! Juror: Randi Hopkins, Associate Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.) —Evan J. Garza
EJG: Let’s talk chaos.
What I previously would have termed chaos in my work, I now better define as improvisation. In my paintings, I like to highlight the relationship between improvisation and control. I’m looking to push that limit and create dynamic tension and balance. I pour paint directly onto the surface of the piece and create paint forms that seem to be wild, free, or in movement. In contrast, I do a lot of planning and make several controlled decisions within a painting. For example, the wooden shapes serve as focal/structural support.
Dark Matter, 2010 | Acrylic on panel, 49 x 80 inches
EJG: In your works, much of the composition is left to colorful negative space, revealing part of the wooden panel, which is then painted into a seemingly dimensional plank of wood surrounded by painterly effects. Tell me about how you approach both dimension and your compositions.
I want the paintings to exist on many levels and multiple dimensions. I am trying to form a more physical 3D plane of illusion within the 2D picture. The rich color fields establish ground—but an undefined, sort of limitless space—which I find an interesting landscape to explore.
Filed under: Q&A | Tags: abstraction, Benrimon Contemporary, Changha Hwang, Evan J. Garza, Nazca Lines, South Korea
Exceeding Flash, 2009 | Acrylic on cotton canvas, 70 x 60 inches
Changha Hwang isn’t afraid to keep it old school. Despite the architectural, memory board-like qualities that appear to mark his painted abstractions, the South Korean-born artist couldn’t be less influenced by technology, touting ancient Peruvian geoglyphs as his source of inspiration. Since being included in edition #74 of New American Paintings, and for the last several years, Hwang and his intensely fresh brand of abstraction has been featured in a multitude of international solo shows. We caught up with the New York-based artist this week to talk about his work. —Evan J. Garza
EJG: You were born in Korea. When did you first come to the States?
1990, when I was 21… I lived in five different regions of South Korea. I was born in Seoul. And I lived in South Korea until my father died… My parents were divorced when I was little, and they both remarried. My mother remarried to a Korean American, so she was living in America. I was living with my dad, but he passed away, so I decided to join my mom in the States.
EJG: Were you painting when you were in South Korea?
No, not at all. It’s funny—I have an older brother who always wanted to be an artist. So, being an artist was my brother’s thing, not mine. When I came to the States, and I was done taking English classes at a community college in Dallas, I was able to take art courses. I came across a drawing class and I fell in love with it… I liked art-making more and more, and I decided to come to New York to go to art school.
Wedded, 2009 | Acrylic on Canvas, 84 x 57 inches. Courtesy of Benrimon Contemporary and the artist.
Filed under: NAP News
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Filed under: Q&A | Tags: Austin, Evan J. Garza, figure, Heyd Fontenot, Jonathan Walz, Michael O'Sullivan, nudes, portraiture, Texas, University of Maryland
Aleks with Seven Others, 2009
Featured in edition #66 and on the cover of edition #84 of New American Paintings, Heyd Fontenot isn’t afraid to bare it all, at least not when it comes to his work. The Austin, TX-based artist creates intimate renderings of nude friends and models that are as weirdly natural as they are delicately altered. Whether painting nude portraits on naked wood or drafting subtle works on paper, Fontenot’s work is undoubtably captivating. We caught up with the Texas artist this week to talk about his work (and getting naked). —Evan J. Garza
EJG: So, why the nude?
Well, Evan, I think I’ve always been sort of fascinated by the nude. Ever since I was a child, I was supremely interested in erotically-charged material. And having said that, I should clarify that I don’t necessarily classify the work that I’m doing as “erotic.” I realize that there is a “sexy” element in the work, but I think that has more to do with a degree of intimacy. And the playfulness in the work is also important, in that it perhaps signifies that the nudity isn’t a threat. I think I originally conceived this body of work as an attempt to present a loaded, and perhaps confrontational subject in a straight-forth, unflinching, kind and gentle manner.
Jessica, Alexandre, Bill, 2010
EJG: Much of your work is painted on wood. Tell me about what you enjoy about using wood. (Not a euphemism, I swear.)
See, I think it’s totally okay to use a dirty joke here and there. Because I feel that the “nude” is sometimes “neutered” in order to be acceptable. And in that case, we are denying our true responses to the visual stimuli. Yes, I’m looking at a nude and it did occur to me that this could be sexual. And no, that doesn’t have to be my only response (even though it was my first response). I can find other valuable and worthwhile content. I love a double entendre and I encourage naughtiness. Please feel free to make the off-handed comment, as long as it’s followed up by something thoughtful.
Regarding wood as painting surface, there may be something nostalgic about my use of raw wood as a surface for painting, but there’s also the metaphor for nudity. And I think there may be a secondary metaphor – letting the painting surface be what it actually is, rather than a platform to build illusion, which is traditionally the alchemy practiced by painters.