I feel better already, or at least I think I do is Austin Eddy’s first solo show which opened at GOLDEN gallery a few weeks ago. The exhibition consists of 11 paintings and one installation of (when I saw them) dying tiger lilies in a hand-made clay vase perched atop a green doily (my Sicilian grandmother is very drawn to this particular shade of green). In the first room of the gallery the paintings depict intimate interior spaces, while a second room shows tighter painted portraits of plants.
The paintings are small, most under two feet, and at first glance the gallery appears a little empty. Perhaps this is because the last show I saw in the space was huge photographs that took up most of the walls. The paintings themselves, however, seem to vibrate with energy. They are incredibly, almost absurdly, overworked, with layer upon layer of texture and pattern. Yet somehow they feel restrained; there is a great tension between the almost grotesque amount of physical material and detail, and these moments that are executed with such control and gracefulness that make the pieces as a whole feel so much more comfortable to look at.
The perspective in the depictions of interior spaces is playful and storybook-like, imparting a super flat feel to all of the work. The few figures that appear function like the other objects in the room, feeling flat and expressing almost caricatures of emotions. The titling add another aspect to the playfulness of the work, with names such as “sometimes you have to just make things work, even when its really hard.”, “my what a glorious view you have of the milky way there, pete.”, and “sometimes some things seem far better in other places.”. The name of the show and the titles impart a hesitant or unsure mood on the work, while I think the work itself appears super confident, almost cocky in railing against conventional views of less being more. They also suggest pretty bizarre narratives (at least in my head).
I was really interested in Eddy’s practice and what he had to say about this new work, and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions (even though it was Thanksgiving day).
So in my mind you’re in a studio surrounded by lots of paintings that you’re working on simultaneously. Do you work on more than one at a time?
There are always lots of things going on. More often than not ill work on four paintings at a time, but when one reaches a point that is more problematic than the rest that one becomes the focus and will usually be the one that gets finished first. The process is usually that. Sometimes however, I’ll just sit down and do one at a time. That usually happens when I have a very specific idea in mind, or I know exactly how I want this to go, or I just want to take a break from the mode of making that is more comfortable. This is a less likely process for me while working. I feel more comfortable making decisions when there is more room. Less pressure. There is more room in my mind when working on more paintings at once due to the fact that there are more possibilities for things to happen and more room for ideas to be bounced around between paintings.
How do you know when a painting is done?
I would like to think that a painting could never really be done; there is always room for reworking and new resolutions. The potential of endless possibilities for the end result is important to this work because that is to say that the decisions made in the process of making are more intentional and they need to be there. That being said, I usually stop working on a painting when it feels like there is a good visual balance and there is some presence of harmony with in the work. The harmony I am aiming for can be described as this combination of choices that in the end are arranged in a way that allows for vibration and visual relationships to take place somewhat seamlessly.
I really like the titles. Can you talk about how you name the work?
Titles are always a little difficult for me, and there is no real method to my titling. Sometimes the painting informs the title, but also the title can inform the painting. At times they reference rock songs, or a statement pertaining to something that has happened in my life. More often than not, the titles function to inform the narrative aspect of the painting.
How did your practice arrive at this place? Can you describe the evolution of your recent work?
The evolution of these latest works is sort of a natural one; right now I am applying the tools I have gained through the process of my image making. I have always been interested in paint and trying to find an engaging way to move it around and have it sing. That interest has taken many forms, but as of right now I am working on applying this sort of personal lexicon to art historical images.
I feel better already, or at least I think I do at GOLDEN will be up until December 12, 2009.
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