Juxtapoz: Gary, you’re a collector of many beautiful, creepy and interesting things, walking into your home is like walking into a museum. Your latest exhibition is inspired by and showcases one of your collections can you tell us a little bit about it?
Baseman: I have been obsessed with collecting vintage photos of people in masks. Ever since I found my first photo of a little kid in a Mickey Mouse costume from the 20s or 30s, I was hooked. The image sounds cute but there is such a creepy side to the images. I love to collect old ephemera that has inspired my work, like old advertising icons or decapitated mannequin heads. But the photos at the time were affordable and each one was a little treasure. I love the feel and look of old photographs, that now everyone is trying to copy through instagram apps. I especially love photos of people in masks. There is something other worldly about them. They have been my private collection for years, although I would share them with good friends. This is the first time I am sharing them with the public.
Juxtapoz: What inspired you to finally decide to share your treasured collection with the public?
Baseman: Well, I have always planned to produce these in a book. But not just a book on Vernacular or ephemera but an art book of beautiful images by non-professional photographers. But every time, I have contacted a publisher, we end up doing a book on my art instead. But I am planning to produce this book, but this group of photos should also be a moving museum exhibition. This is the tip of the iceberg of my photos, but a special tip. My friends at KK Los Angeles Gallery asked to exhibit them, and it seemed this was the right time to introduce them to the public.
I am also exhibiting a dozen new works of art, based on this photo collection. Most are blown up versions of the photos that I have hand painted on top, and a few are silk screen paintings of my ghost girl.
One image is being shown, originally from my Walking through Walls exhibition from Jonathan Levine Gallery last year, titled "The Unveiling of La Petit Mort." It is an important conceptual art piece for me. This will be the first time on view on the west coast.
Juxtapoz: This exhibition is KK Los Angeles Gallery's debut, can you tell us a little bit more about the gallery and how this exhibition came about?
Baseman: Even though this is KK Los Angeles first show, they have a strong history of exhibitions in Europe. KK Amsterdam has been curating, showcasing and dreaming up art exhibits since 1996. They have curated high profile shows such as The New York Photography Festival in partnership with Lou Reed. Museum Minutes for the Kunsthal Rotterdam and several exhibits at the renowned FOAM Museum in Amsterdam.
In 2008, they’ve opened a gallery space on Hoxton Square in London (right next to White Cube Gallery) and ever since have hosted over 100 exhibitions and special events featuring the work of both high profile and emerging artists, designers and photographers.
Juxtapoz: Well Thank you for your time we’re really excited for the opening tonight sounds like it’s going to be quite an event!
This Halloween, vintage hauntings and creepy DIY costumes come to KK
Gallery with a very special show from one of LA?s most prolific artists.
Gary Baseman opens up his vault and showcases for the first time a selection
from his vintage Halloween photo collection dating back to 1915. Baseman?s
collection of over 1500 photographs has been the inspiration for and the
thread through a series of haunting original paintings, special edition prints,
installations and videos. This multi-media exhibit will celebrate not only
Baseman?s favorite holiday, but the debut show of the newly founded KK
Gallery on Chung King Road in Chinatown. Opening night will have the artist?s
presence and a special musical performance by Nightmare and The Cat.
Nightmares of Halloweens Past
KK Gallery Los Angeles
963 Chung King Road, Chinatown, LA, 90012
Opens: Saturday October 20, 2012 7-10pm