I love how you jump around between groups, two people, and single characters in your paintings. There are these dynamics that are playing out, like the play of our lives, how we feel around large groups of people we don’t know, then our intimate groups, and then how we feel about ourselves behind closed doors. These emotions feel even more powerful this year. You capture the idea of being alone in a special way, if this makes sense.
Yeah, it's about feeling alone in a crowd of people, really. That's a good way to say it. It's this internalized feeling of loneliness. I was writing about this the other day. And I was thinking about loneliness, not as an acute condition, like a momentary thing, but as a recursive pathological thing. Loneliness is like a disease, or just this thing that you carry, rather than it being just like, "I feel lonely right now." It's more profound than that. It's more lived. "I'm living with loneliness, as a feeling." But, it's also about those tender moments of rejoining with people, or connecting, or clicking with people. It can be about that click…
You are speaking of feelings that are hard to articulate.
Right, which is why I gravitate to painting, to try and work them out. And I always feel like I fall short when I try to describe it with words. The feeling is one of speechlessness, or wordless-ness. Of this intensive feeling in your chest of, "I don't know why I'm having this extreme feeling right now." Loneliness, lust, anger, or feeling rejected, those feelings can become so complicated and so overpowering, that you just can't speak about them.
This may be off topic, but we were speaking about finding your community, and NYC has this historical aura of the art community, of nightlife, and seeing people, and people coming to your shows. It's magical, really. Did you ever worry this year, that maybe New York wasn't going to be able to hold it together, and you would have to leave?
Yeah, literally. Yes, yes. In this moment, it's very strange to live in the City when it is stripped of its character. Another thing that I think about a lot when I work is this history, this lineage, the heritage of being a Queer artist in New York City. And I think about Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowicz, two huge, big deal people for me, who were here in the 1980s. I'm reading David Wojnarowicz’s biography right now, Fire in the Belly, it's a really great book.
I was introduced to David's work in 2017 by a friend. It blew my mind, it changed my life. And consequently, it's influenced my reasons why I make the paintings I do today. It's probably the reason why we're talking. David Wojnarowicz is, hands down, the most influential artist for me. But, it's funny because, when you listen to his story, and Peter Hujar’s, and of all these people like Kiki Smith, all these New York City artists, Beat Generation, there’s all of the color, all of the nightlife. It has the CBGB, it has Patti Smith, it has all that shit, which is why everyone wants to come here. It's why everyone wants to see this city, it's SoHo in the ’80s, this really sexy New York City nightlife. Right now? Everybody's in the park trying to keep their head on straight, pulling their hair out of their heads. And you're like, "I'm supposed to be living like Robert Mapplethorpe, like now? What do you mean?!" It's like, "How does this compare?"