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Do you interfere in the way the scraped paint sticks to the canvas at all?
No. I mean, I do mess around with it a little bit. I don't try to do specific patterns, but for example if there's an area where I think some kind of wrinkling would produce a really interesting illusion effect, I will try to make it. But pretty much we just let it fall and it just falls slowly and fast, and generally makes the wrinkle itself. I like it because I'm letting it be whatever it wants to be, you know, and I think that's very beautiful.
You mentioned trying to create illusions; are you trying to play with viewers' perceptions by using paint in a way that's not like painting at all?
People sometimes think it's fabric. In fact, the first paintings I did with this kind of technique, they were about this big (makes shape of a small canvas
) and people thought it was just wet cloth and they were like, "Meh, whatever," and it made me feel horrible because I felt like I had something very interesting going on. My work a year ago was very figurative, it still was dealing with ways of using oil paint like a kind of object, but I thought this other thing was cooler. And for me in the studio it was very fun because I wasn't sure what was gonna come out.
Like this piece
is a whole text that says: "He prefers himself to everyone else because everyone else abandons him." It's a text by Sartre
, talking about Baudelaire. He wrote beautifully about him and his attitude towards art. And it deals a lot with loneliness and people not understanding you and the things you're doing. I thought it was very beautiful, and it touched me in many ways, and I decided to make it into one of the text pieces. But when I'm painting it I cover it with some abstract expressionistic marks, and then we cover it with yellow and scrape it out, and the text is still there. It makes for interesting textures because of the drying time. We use a stencil font, not for any specific reason, just because it's easier, or maybe I don't like my writing.
Do you like leaving the final part of the work a little up to chance after such a specific and careful process?
It's funny because a lot of the time me and mostly these dudes (nods towards his assistants
) mess it up, not on purpose but by accident of course, but really the most beautiful things in some paintings have happened because they did some accident. And I get mad, and then I look and it's actually great. It's about this in-between or these kind of unexpected happenings, and they are evident in the work and I think that's gorgeous. It shows a lot of accidents, which is a very human element, and that's very, very important.
It's been interesting the past few months here, we've thrown out a lot of paintings. Sometimes we scrape out the paint, if I really don't like a painting, and the we use those scraps for other paintings. I don't like literally throwing away stuff, so I just put it away and hopefully find a spot for it.