“My actual painting process is similar to a first date. They both begin with a calculated plan of events; add nerves and hesitation, random impulses, and anticipation and you end up with a gooey mess.”
Paul, you said that, “My painting practice entails equal parts of chance, improvisation, and calculated elements of realism combined to create humorous painting mutations.” Can you delve into this a bit further?
I strive to make art that has the mentality of kitsch while maintaining a nod to the grotesque. While these two concepts may seem contradictory, I cannot help myself from attempting to create a painting mutation that culminates in a lovable art monster. When I create paintings from images of my own imagination, the final product often lacks universality. In order to broaden my audience, I discovered that if I translate an image from reality into a painting, the work maintains a sense of popular entertainment while also potentially engaging in deeper layers of meaning. For this reason a majority of my paintings are derived from, or at least inspired by, found Internet photographs. Most of the time spent on my art practice is used for research and preparation. I spend hours upon hours scouring Google images to then spend twenty minutes making a painting.My actual painting process is similar to a first date. They both begin with a calculated plan of events; add nerves and hesitation, random impulses, and anticipation and you end up with a gooey mess. I am a strong believer in the notion that art should be entertaining. I received my art education from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and after four years of conceptual stonings and critical executions. I learned the most important lesson of all. ART SHOULD BE FUN DAMMIT!
Do you feel that there is a particular art scene among the artists in Chicago, almost like there was in Paris in the Montmartre and Montparnasse quarters in the early 1900s?
I am in love with Chicago. Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to move here, even before I had even visited the city. I am surrounded by so many talented artists who take part in an exceptionally open and accepting community where you feel safe to take artistic risks but also are motivated by a healthy amount of competition. I think the DIY art spaces and apartment galleries are the most interesting aspect of the Chicago art scene. Not only do these venues allow for non-institutional settings to view art, but they also provide a space for an open exchange of ideas and opinions without judgment. I have spent the last year volunteering as an art preparator for one such space called LVL3 Gallery. Working with the gallery constantly reminds me of the supportive nature of the Chicago art community.
Does music have any impact on your art? If so, can you explain why?
I always listen to music while I paint. It helps me keep a consistent pace and allows me to focus on the process rather than the result.
I always find myself asking artists about inspiration. What does that word mean for you as artist?
My inspiration comes from my family and friends, especially my parents and my siblings. I strive to make them proud each and every day. I would not be who I am without their incredible influence which has taught me to have a love and appreciation for life.
Stranger Danger is a piece I made in January of 2010 right after graduating from school. I am not fond of this piece; however, it represents a key failure that led to a monumental shift in my thinking as an artist. Before I began this painting, I was asked to partake in a group show called False Anatomies at LVL3 Gallery with artists Easton Miller and Nozomi Rose. This was my first show outside of school and I was terrified. I wanted to make at least three new paintings before the opening and this is when I made Stranger Danger. At the time I felt like my paintings needed to have an intentional preconceived concept in order to be taken seriously by the art community. The piece is based on a photograph of a man with severe elephantiasis of the face that I found while researching physical deformities and medical mutations. After completing this painting, I realized how labored and stale it looked. Rather than allowing the paint to be paint. I forced it to be merely an illustrative device with the sole purpose of representing a particular image. I struggled while making this piece and did not enjoy the process. Now, my main intent is to create paintings that are as fun to look at as they are to paint.
If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet either the old or young version of myself like Biff does in “Back To The Future.” I feel like that would be quite the humbling experience.