Page 2 of 4
Do you start each new piece with the same idea or interest in mind, or are you always responding to something new?
The origin of all of this work came out of a really haphazard moment. It seems like I'm really obsessed with classical iconography, but I'm not at all. I was in a show in Naples a few years ago and we spent a day at Pompeii and stayed with an archaeologist from the museum there. And we encountered this really interesting, random development that was happening in terms of the frescoes there—and I never followed-up on this, I'm not a follower-upper, I'm just interested in the gesture—which involved the accuracy of that really iconic color, the Pompeii red, that terra cotta color. That's the way that they restored the entire site of Pompeii and all the art and architecture there. And so apparently that may have been a mistake. And they've slathered the entire site with that color. And I was really inspired by and interested in how there's so much fiction in our sense of authoritative history.
I think that idea—although I'm really interested in and excited by the forms themselves—was really inspiring for me, and I think that's how I ended up adopting the iconography at hand. But my interpretation and treatment of those forms is where I grow in my work, more so than that initial idea. That's like a starting point, but more exciting for me is the progress that can be achieved here. I think my body is much more intelligent than my mind, and that's where the potential for development happens for me. But if I'd gone to, you know, fucking Disney World on that day I'd probably be making much different work now. I think that those themes have been floating through the work that I've been doing for a really long time. I fully asert myself as a very uneducated amateur in this realm—I'm not an art historian.
Right. You even seem to almost be parodying art history.
The kitsch aspect of this work is something I'm very interested in. It's humiliating, but there's also something engaging about it. There's obviously a copying of a cannon of art history, which is really kitschy, like it could almost be in a tacky Italian restaurant or something. It's a very simple, relatively un-investigated appropriation of these masterful pieces, but at the same time I think that there's a genuine exploration of the forms, really a singular interest in making something that's expressive and original and new. So I think those two things exist together. That's the sensation that I'm curious about in work that I made in the last couple years: creating something that has an initial presence and then kind of evolves into something else.
Are the foam and resin in these new works intended to suggest any specific material?
Well I think it really overtly mimics marble, but it's obviously a really loose simulation. Some of my earlier pieces, like from my show at Nicelle (Beauchene)'s in 2009, feature a more overwrought rendering of those materials to represent another material. It's kind of like drawing: when you're drawing or representing something for the first time it's really overwrought, and then you get more comfortable with those materials, and then a gesture or a loose line can mean the thing. So I liked the really liberal usage of materials here; like you can see my paw-print. There's a much more gestural and unusual application of those materials than just the effort of simulating something else. So I think it does come further away and that it could be interpreted as different things—is it wood, is it marble? It's supposed to suggest a more expensive material. I'm just trying to make things look expensive. (Laughs.
) But the sculptures are really made in the way that they kind of look like they would be: by making giant chunks and then cobbling them together to bring a creature to life.