Page 3 of 3
How did you choose where your work would hang in the museum?
They offered to walk around and see what's possible to do at basically any place, but I thought the Beaux-Arts Court is not only quite an amazing room, but it's about painting. Painting is in kind of a hard spot right now, some people say it's more commercial or it's more conservative. It's going to be a big surprise to see how my paintings are going to be in front of a Goya.
How long did it take you to make the paintings for this exhibition?
It was quite a marathon. It took me three and a half months. Eugenie [Tsai, the Brooklyn Museum's curator of contemporary art] wrote to me that they might be interested in showing some paintings, and I thought they meant in a group show sometime, so I was very excited. And then she said, "you really have to come to the museum." And I said, "I will when I get back from Russia," which I was going to in June. So the day before I left for Russia I went to the museum and they explained what it was about. I went to Russia for two months, and I couldn't really change my plans, and I got back here in September and started. The whole time I was there I was thinking about exactly what I needed to do, but I only came up with eight sketches—I don't like to work ahead.
Why are all these canvases different sizes?
Well, the archways are something like 78 inches wide, so that kind of dictates the size. I also wanted the work to be large, I think the signs and symbols read better that way. And the Russian ones are the biggest because they're almost the exact size of the works that will be hanging across from them. They're horizontal, but all my work is vertical.
Your work seems to have become increasingly abstract.
I would say that it's become more symbolic. These are signs for something, they stand for something else. But a lot of people we think of as abstract artists would say they're not.
I don't think people think formally while they're doing things, they think in between times about what painting does or art does. It's not about emotions or a gut feeling just by itself; there are still structures and you have to build them, and if you don't have that it won't happen.