#1 Cramped Apartment


Can you tell me what historical painting you started with in order to create the composition for this piece?

For the bulk of my work, there isn’t a direct reference to a specific painting.  In the show at Half/Dozen only one painting has its compositional basis in an art historical reference.  That said, I’m highly invested in citing the history of painting as a way to place what I do in the studio in a context bigger than I might otherwise feel.  Cramped Apartment is more closely related to paintings I’ve been making for the past three or four years in its structure.  I wanted it to feel closed in and cluttered like my studio.  (I paint in a converted one car garage)


I know that the title of the show “So Domestic” typifies these ideas of home that are being discussed, can you tell me how Cramped Apartment’s title illustrates the meaning of this piece?

I think this is the kind of space I find myself in most of the time.  My home is full of art, books, tables —  stuff.  It’s lived in.  And the homes of my friends and peers trend that way as well.  Cramped Apartment is a pretty obvious labeling of the space.  One window, a kitchen that looks into another room, a mirror to open up the space.


This painting more than the others have representations of objects that are not recognizable, geometric shapes represented in perspective, why is that? do they represent actual objects in your space that you abstracted?

Even when objects are recognizable in my work, they function for me more as abstract shapes.  That’s not to say that a TV as an image has no meaning, but it’s more likely placed in a work to perform a formal task.  I needed something glowing and green, so it becomes a TV.  So when there’s a flat rectangle leaning against a wall, or a patterned geometric form curling into the next room, I stop short at naming them.  They do a job that would be similar if they were more ‘finished’ or visually defined.


Your color palate is so bright and not reminiscent of classical works you may be drawing from, is that an effort to divorce your self from their influence? or referencing more modern influences?

Well, first of all, painters from Giotto forward have used some pretty insane colors.  Look at the reflection in Vermeer’s Young Woman with Water Pitcher and tell me that blue isn’t intense.  Or Titian’s Bacchanal.  But a lot of my color sensibilities come from modern abstraction – I’m floored by the optics of color laid out by Albers in Interaction of Color.  I usually lay out my palette in a fairly straightforward progression from cools to warms to cools again, so that I can jump between temperatures within individual hues. 
Aside from academic art history, I’m a lifelong comic book fan, so saturated color may be built into the way I visualize.  Plus paint is colored goop, after all.  Seems logical that paintings should show that off.


Interview by Nell Mack