GEORGE WAYNE – I thought to myself after seeing your work that Julian Schnabel was also sort of doing the same with his newest work. What, with you both using an irregular medium as the ‘canvas’. Schnabel’s new work at Pace are paintings on this particular fabric that he found covering a fruit market in Mexico. And your paintings are done on appliance heavy wrapping cardboard you probably found at a Walmart dumpster… Talk about the origins of this notion of heavy-ply cardboard as the vessel for your latest paintings?
AS- Sometimes inspiration follows boredom. After I had spent three hours doing quick sketches of a lovely but boring young man, I could not face another similar session. I found paper bags with interesting graphics and with charcoal in hand attended the next session. The machine graphics and brown paper against the charcoal marks were great looking. Paper bags led to cardboard. I wanted to paint on something that had machine graphics- grabbed some boxes and learned how the surface worked both physically and esthetically- again I found the results quite appealing.
GW- First sight of your work I found it so primal and revolutionary. This notion of painting on cardboard. Then after much thought, I realized that the notion isn’t that revolutionary after all. Come to think of it– the great 18th Century French master Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres famously painted on linen and cardboard way back in the 1800s.
AS- I choose to work on cardboard because I like the contrast between the machine marks and the hand of the painter.
GW- I am totally in thrall of your work. Your gallerist calls it ”expressive realism”. It is all so raw – yet so fresh and intimate. The whole notion of discord and discard and tumult and pillage wafting through the zeitgeist. When I first saw the cardboard boxes I wondered, seriously, did the artist find these cardboard boxes right outside the gallery on West Broadway in the aftermath of the mass looting that rocked Soho? You could have easily got those boxes from the looted Leica camera shop next door to this gallery earlier this summer. So I find the work at once, insightful and at once ironic.
AS- When I first started to use cardboard I spent many hours raiding the disposal areas of appliance stores an rummaging in the garbage room of the local grocery store. The morphing of a ubiquitous, throw-away material into art might be ironic but one could say the same about the piece of linen or wood that holds a Titian or Picasso – though the cardboard brings a contrast and a history and a commentary about our society.
GW- Do you consider this work a new way of looking at the world?
AS- I doubt it- there are so many people who share our society, our planet and the motivations, feelings, experiences, opinions are really quite finite. I think that the innate ability to focus, to think clearly and analytically bring forth what may be a unique “language” that is new or different, but the basic take on our world is held by many people.
GW- Street scenes…a snapshot in time. Talk me through the initial process of the documentation here.
AS- I discovered that when someone knows they are being watched, they respond by skewing their natural body language. The solution was stealth. I began hiding behind trees or scaffolding and taking photos.
GW- What is the representation you are trying to portray? The language your quasi-portraiture seeks to express is what?
AS- I want to really discover what lies under the skin and make an image so compelling that the viewer feels the heartbeat of the creature.
GW- This work seems to capture a certain particular milieu. The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Is this a deliberate statement?
AS-My subjects are simply a function of opportunity and visual appeal. I will not use an image that I find demeaning, too intimate or embarrassing to anyone. I don’t like caricatures and have great respect for anyone I choose to paint.
GW- There is a febrile atmosphere to your paintings. Is your fascination ultimately just one with the human form?
AS- My fascination is with life. I paint trees and dogs with the same intensity and attention to detail that I employ on people. I feel that all living things are connected.
GW- Talk about the notion of the gaze as it relates to these paintings.
AS- I like to catch my subjects when they are meditative, exploring their own domain, involved with themselves- their vision is inward, personal.
GW- Your painterly phrasing here….expound on the thought.
AS- I am an athletic painter- I like big brushes, interesting marks, accidents but I also respond to good craftsmanship. I am obsessed with “getting it”, finding the magic that makes a work come alive.
GW- There is no influence of the current protest movement in your work. One assumes this is no accident.
AS- I can only tell the truth by commenting on the things I have experienced. That said, there are many experiences that I have had that I will not comment on because they are too personal.
GW- Talk about your time studying at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
AS- I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I walked into the school and fell in love. My art experience was very limited, I could not draw and wanted to learn so badly. I quickly learned how to handle paint. I loved clay even though it frequently went flying off my wheel. I was so happy!
GW- If GW were to regard you as a blue-blood-Brahmin-type-from-Boston. Would that be far off a description?
AS- You have no idea how far off it is.
GW- Well, GW regards you- without question- as one of Boston’s leading figurative painters without question! Looking forward to seeing even more of your oeuvre.
AS- I look forward to many more hours in the studio making the images in my head a reality.