In Conversation: Aaron Elvis Jupin at Fisher Parrish Gallery, NYC
Try to remember a pivotal moment in your life, then consider whether that recollection is truly accurate. The permutation of memory is wild. Thinking back to a remembered interlude can be a theater production, as one's history becomes a highly-produced spectacle. Is it the consequence of an upbringing weaned on television and movies? Memory serves in so many different ways, obscuring and revealing truths. It’s no wonder we sensationalize its capability.
Exploring those ideas and more is Los Angeles-based painter Aaron Elvis Jupin. His works delve into the mundane to highlight the memories that live there, snippets of impressions and visions that have shaped his past. Acting as portals to liminal spaces, Jupin's canvases are thick with dreamy imagery, intensified by his crisp aesthetic and hyperreal quality. Time and memory are magnified with focus and representation, imparting space for viewers to project their own experiences.
This month, Jupin opens a solo show with Fisher Parrish Gallery in New York, which describes how “his new series evokes the feeling of a childhood rhyme or fable told through the warped filter of time and repetition. Memory obscures the characters, and the protagonist shifts from the animate to inanimate. A doorknob, a window, or a car seat drawn from his exploration of the domestic landscape shift forward and become the focal point – exaggerated and reanimated to the point of haunting absurdity.
We sat down with Jupin as part of our #WestCoastStudioTour and talked with him as he prepared his solo show Piper Pipe That Song Again, opening September 13th at Fisher Parrish in NYC.
Jessica Ross: This might be presumptuous, but I assume you're a daydreamer?
Aaron Elvis Jupin: As long as I can remember. A teacher once told me I had “wandering eyes." I'm a cartoon kid raised on television. I feel like, because of that, it affects my own perception and sense of reality.
Top three cartoons, GO.
Wow, this is harder than I thought "Bambi", "Ren and Stimpy", "Tom and Jerry."
I think, when you're bored and your mind has time to wander, you can end up somewhere really special. There's a quietness in your work, an almost background noise that reminds me of such moments. What are you trying to explore in those interludes?
I like this moment of relief, it's a nice break from the constant bombardment of information. These paintings explore the moment right before and after an act. My work focuses on the background, removing the character and personifying the domestic landscape.
What is it about windows, doorways, portals, and mirrors? Are they tools to see another time or place, a vehicle to memory?
I’m attracted to all kinds of windows as a way to explore the domestic. It's the perfect amount of “real” for the viewer to recognize the window as familiar. The window is a loaded image, depending on the type of curtains, whether it’s opened or closed, and if it’s reflecting an image or not. This void can transport you to an assortment of conclusions. I enjoy playing with windows as a portrait to explore the mundane.
You’ve gone pretty big for your show at Fisher Parrish. Do you find yourself taking breaks from drawing, or do you enjoy jumping into large canvases all at once?
There is no rhyme or reason to my process, no schedule in how I made these recent works. Some days I feel like drawing and other days I feel like painting. I had more time working on this show than usual, so I just spaced it out and worked on whatever I was into that day. Really low-pressure attitude.
How do you fashion the optical illusion aspects in your paintings? Is there a strategic start to finish, or do you leave room to improvise?
I usually have an idea that I’ll mock-up in photoshop using an assortment of references; but typically, I leave room for chance. I like to give myself options in the direction my painting can go. I think some of the best paintings I’ve made come from those opportunities.
What’s the meaning behind your Fisher Parrish show title Piper Pipe That Song Again?
When making this body of work, I was thinking about the idea of false memory. The idea of something that seems familiar; like an object you see repeated again and again, and how you make subconscious connections to it. I was having a conversation with my friend Molly Bounds and she had brought up the title Piper Pipe That Song Again from a book of poems. A few weeks later, I was listening to some Allen Ginsberg readings, which recited the poem again. It was just so serendipitous how it made its way into my practice I decided it was meant to be.
What are the pros and cons of living and working in the same space? Do you have strict boundaries between work and home to maintain structure, or is it more free-flowing?
The pro is when you wake up, you’re in your studio. The con is, when you wake up, you’re in your studio. Somedays I think it would be nice to separate myself more, but I'm really lucky. It forces me to be productive and it seems to be working for now.
Your playful work incorporates many elements of humor and absurdist imagery. Do you think your paintings need levity and how does that compliment the work?
It's not that they need it, it's just something I'm interested in. I’ve been trying to be more honest with myself as a painter and making paintings that interest me. The humor comes from the viewer’s own subconscious connection to these images, and I'm not trying to force this humor on anyone. I feel like these most recent paintings are self-portraits in an abstract sense. Exploring the anti-real within the logic of cartoons is when the paintings become absurd. It’s at this moment that I feel levity become present, the paintings explore animation and absurdist reality comes along with it.
After this solo at Fisher Parrish, what’s on the horizon? Where can we check out more of your work in 2020?
I’m not sure, nothing locked in yet. I’m just planning some sculptures, new paintings, and working on little zine/book.
Piper Pipe That Song Again opens Friday, September 13th at Fisher Parrish in NYC and is on view through October 27, 2019.