Feature: Blek le Rat interviews HUSHJuxtapoz // Thursday, 18 Nov 2010
In conjunction with the White Walls Gallery of San Francisco, HUSH’s New York City exhibition Found opens tomorrow, November 19 in NYC at Angel Orensanz Foundation For Contemporary Art. In honor, we had legendary street artist Blek le Rat ask HUSH a few questions in regards to his 25 new mixed-media works and installation he will be presenting.
Blek le Rat: Hi Hush. One of the first things, among others, I am interested in is the fusion between Eastern and Western culture in your work. It seems to me to be more than a style but a kind of philosophy in your life. Could you please explain this way of thinking and working? What was your experience in Asia?
HUSH: Hello Blek le Rat. First of all, thank you for conducting this interview. Asia was an extremely important influence on my life both philosophically and visually. The way the East, especially the youth, adopt western styles and cultural influences but struggle with holding onto traditional values is of interest to me and my work.
It did get me thinking about a combination of factors and when you add my interpretation of this, we end up with a very eclectic mix. I like to depict this through using the female form in art, which can symbolise so many messages. I try to capture and contradict these cross-cultural differences and influences in my work.
Blek le Rat: I think you contribute to creating a new style in running straight on from the movement of the 1940s called "action painting" which was associated with Abstract Expressionism. Do you feel that graffiti art is some how an evolution of action painting and if so why?
HUSH: That's exactly my view, I see graffiti, especially tagging, as a form of expressionism and when lots of them are seen in one place and on the street a visual image is created like nothing else I can compare it to. It's beautiful.
Take that from the street and apply it to work you make in the gallery setting is difficult. That's why I approach it as action painting, it could easily be determined as Abstract Expressionism also. You need to capture that instantaneous decision to make the mark. That's why I have canvases continuously around the studio. I throw everything at them, tag them, throws, the lot. It feels like it carries a bit of that excitement. It also places this movement into a category that is continuing to build on past art movements which every new movement does.
Blek le Rat: I very much like your new way of working. You overlay different coats of paint in which you blend images that almost vanish under new coats of paint. It is like superposing different skins, I knew someone who called this" the skins of the walls". Can you tell me more about this way of working?
HUSH: I like that phrase. I play with lots of ideas in the paintings I make and like to reference a lot of movements, past and present. I have always loved that old graff rule about a throw can go over a tag, a dub over a throw, a piece over a dub and so on.
I also love the transient way in which work on the street evolves and usually looks more at home the longer it settles, gets going over, degrades and fades. I try to create all these actions and mistakes in the studio.
I always work on two of the same paintings every time I create a piece, partly for the fact that I will take more risks on one so my work progresses, although there does come a point where I will only finish one as it becomes obvious which one is working.
I also do this so when I make a new painting I can go over the discarded painting and leave remains of it visible to the viewer. I kind of take pleasure in knowing that there was a good piece and lots of work underneath a painting. It always feels uncomfortable working on a clean canvas, I like the feel and textures of a worked on canvas. It gives it some life straight away.
Blek le Rat: How do you like your success all over the world? Did you expect to be successful? How do you explain the reasons for so many artists from all over the world have a such success with people?
HUSH: I feel privileged that my work is accepted and embraced by people from lots of different backgrounds and cultures. I find it hard to measure success and never really view myself as being successful at all really. I have a very long way to go... I hope anyway. As far as making art, hopefully a little success might come with that.
I think success in art should really be measured by continuing to be relevant and progressing continuously, through years of practicing art, which I will always try to achieve.
I think people have embraced this movement and the artists working within it because it is very relevant and accessible, it makes sense to a lot of people and it helps people to actually get excited by art again.
The opening reception for Found will be held at Angel Orensanz Foundation, For Contemporary Art on Friday, November 19, 2010 from 7–10PM located on 172 Norfolk Street, New York City, New York. The show will continue on Saturday the 20th and Sunday the 21st from 12-5pm. The exhibition is open to the public.
White Walls presents: Hush
November 19—21, 2010
New York, New York