“The only way you’d know my work was a part of this display is…well, that’s just it, you wouldn’t know. “
“The design was a copy, and with someone else’s name signed to it. I was devastated.”
“These included claims for: “damage to their honor and reputation and for their humiliation, mental anguish, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, loss of self-esteem, self confidence, personal dignity, shock, emotional distress, inconvenience, emotion pain [sic] and and suffering and any other physical and mental injuries Plaintiffs suffered due to Defendants improper conduct pursuant to VARA and the common law.”
“There are those who make a practice of not asking.”
“Every time someone posts my picture without credit, my work loses value. It will sell for much less by the agency that represents me, it’ll give me less revenue. And to know that some people make money off my work, gain popularity and fame over my work — when I’m counting the pennies to make ends meet, is unbelievably frustrating.”
“The copyright itself has become a subject for artists. It’s a fundamental condition for making art in a way we’ve never seen before.”
“Q. Were you trying to create anything with a new meaning or a new message? A. No.”
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
My work as a whole revolves around a single central and basic theme, which is the importance of human sensuality and the immediacy of the physical world above all things. When you take a single step, or rest your face on a pillow, or touch a cool, damp wall in a basement, you receive information in a way that simply cannot be expressed in quotidian language. The awareness of interacting with your environment in a purely physical way also begins to seep into the way you look at the world. You become more observant, more curious.
However, the most important aspect of the human sensual experience is the interaction with other people. The most effective communication is touch. Touching someone, being touched, this is the most effective way of connection in our short period of mortality. The immediacy of being unseparated, by space or clothing or fear, creates a dynamic tension that I feel the need to explore. The body is a complex landscape, a map that reflects the person within. But the body is not simply a lantern with the candle of a soul flickering through the glass. Consciousness and physicality are intrinsically inseparable, from the most basic physical process of replenishing your red blood cells of oxygen by breathing to the most powerful emotions that cause you to sweat, shake, cry, scream. Without the physical sensation from the world around you and without allowing yourself to fully process the emotional impact that results from interacting with it, the consciousness is simply an abstract concept, floating in the realm of a heaven or hell that may not truly exist.
This subject matter has been worked on in painting for the entirety of known history. The cave paintings discovered in Lascaux, France, included handprints. The application of paint with your hands as a conceptual idea is the exploration of human physicality and its potential impact on a space. The relationship between consciousness and the form of the body and its actions have been explored in countless other works since then, by Michelangelo, Rodin, and so on.
In my paintings I attempt to include this tension, this immediacy. In my portraits, a central theme is the way the application of paint reflects a person physically. The very nature of paint as a physical substance can be a parallel to the sensual experience. Working with the paint alla prima creates a malleability of image which I explore every time I apply the brush to the canvas. Working wet on wet is also a way to express the temporal nature of the sensual human experience. At some point, the paint will dry, the oil will begin to eat away at the ground, the body will decay, and time will move forward. It’s a good thing.
The concept of time and the exploration of what permanence means is another subject I have been exploring recently. If you’re viewing your body as the primary way to experience your life, then your skin is a map of the place or places that you live. You can permanently alter this fleshy map, purposefully with a tattoo, accidentally with a scar. But there is a larger meaning of time than just the way that humans can perceive it. Time cannot be judged by whether you see the sun or not, whether you’re hungry or not, but the rate that a mountain sinks into the earth, or the stone cave floor absorbs water. A scar will eventually fade and a tattoo will disappear, the only choice is whether it happens between life or death. Every time you depict a human body, you depict mortality. My work evolved from a concentration in traditional methods and philosophy, being the importance of drawing and observational accuracy. My interest in art history also influences the subject matter, leading to a classical approach to imagery and symbolism that mixes with my own contemporary view. I am also influenced by my surroundings, leading to the integration of landscape and architectural detail drawn from life. The body of work that I have developed in the past year have all been combinations and reflections on my love for traditional method, my interest in history, and my contemporary outlook on the sensual human life experience.
Traveling isn’t always easy. For a student, it’s tough to find the time, and for an art student, it’s tougher to find the money. However, when you’re afforded with the opportunity to fly across the Atlantic and live in Italy for an extended length of time, you’d better find a way to make the best of it.
That’s how I felt glaring down the month long winter break during my time at the Siena Art Institute. How could I travel the cheapest? How could I make the most of my limited time and even more limited funds? And maybe most importantly, how could I continue to make work during my period of (realistically) homelessness?
An example of my typical lodging during my trip. Athens, Greece
I’m a painter by training, someone who is always drawing in his sketchbook. But for my trip I was limited. No longer did I have the grand studio in the historic Siena Art Institute building, with huge white walls just begging for work to be taped, stapled, or nailed into them. I simply had a camping backpack with a week’s worth of clothes and my sketchbook.
I met an artist in residence at the Siena Art Institute, a Greek man named Alexandros Georgiou. He has made his entire practice one of travel, simply taking photos, drawing on them, and writing on them, transforming an experience into a postcard. It’s beautifully humble work, but there is an air of seriousness about it. Simply writing a “hello, thinking about you in Naples” is just not enough. His practice is incredibly focused, and it shows.
I decided to apply this philosophy to my own work. Yes, all I had was a pocket sized travel sketchbook and whatever I could pick up off the ground to draw with, but that shouldn’t stop me from applying myself and making a serious drawing. After all, traveling through Italy and Greece, Spain and France, even a stop in Berlin… I’d be surrounding myself with works of art and it’s so important to learn and respond. Once I got over the fact that standing and drawing for two hours in a public museum may draw some strange looks and comments, I fell into the swing. I was able to practice, and I transformed that little sketchbook into an artwork in itself, intentionally.
Tuning out the shutter sounds in the Vatican museums, one of the several times I made a study of the Belvedere torso
Traveling to Siena has been a learning experience for me, the most important of the lessons being adaptability. I’ve learned to live in a new place. I’ve learned to work with new materials, in unfamiliar territory. I’ve learned to be comfortable sleeping on three couch cuscions with a sheet draped over them!
You can always practice. You can always work and create. When you make a serious effort every day, it’s no longer a matter of motivation, but scheduling.
And it helps when you’re satisfied with the results!