In a recent interview with New York based artist Beau Stanton, we sat down to ask him a few questions about his upcoming solo exhibition titled Sanguine Machine, opening this September at Gallery Hijinks. As apprentice to the father of Popaganda, this artist classifies his own art as Neo-Ornamentalist-Subjective-Realism. What does that mean? Keep reading…
Photo credit: Ron English
Gallery Hijinks: “One of the most prolific and recognizable artists alive today, Ron English has bombed the global landscape with unforgettable images, on the street, in museums, in movies, books and television. English coined the term POPaganda to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history.”-popaganda.com How has your mentorship with Ron English helped shape your artistic style, process and focus?
Beau Stanton: I gained a better understanding of what it takes to create a compelling image. Working with Ron also woke me up to the reality of how much one actually has to work to be successful as a painter. Sadly, he put to rest the romantic idea of the sleeping-in drinking all day “artist’s lifestyle.”
GH: Please describe the process of making one of your paintings?
BS: I begin with a drawing that establishes the overall composition. Next, I lay out the design elements in collage or photoshop or a combination of both. The drawing and designs are then combined into a single silk screen that is used to transfer the entire under drawing. After a simple underpainting I go on to render everything in oil paint.
Photo credit: Bold Hype
GH: What is the inspiration for “Sanguine Machine: Antediluvian Artifacts from Futures Past” and how does it play out in the work for the show?
BS: Any kind of pre-modern architecture, ornamentation, letterpress printing, or decayed infrastructure serves as an inspiration. Lately I’ve been exploring abandoned 19th century sites around the NYC area to collect photo reference and artifacts for my paintings. You can see a few of these adventures on my blog here.
GH: We can’t help but appreciate the contrasts between your use of destructive or violent imagery (such as guns or mushroom clouds) and their ornate and romantic environments. Are there any concepts behind this?
BS: A main idea at work in this show has to do with the end of a cycle and how beauty can be found in the degradation. I like to think of it as an optimist’s approach to the apocalypse.
GH: If you lived in the victorian era what would you like your job to be (besides a painter)?
BS: Letterpress printer, a Baron, or both.
GH: If two unfamiliar viewers were to spark up a conversation about your work, what do you think they would talk about? What would you want them to take away from the collection?
BS: I like it when two people have completely different interpretations of a painting. If I’m able to raise interesting questions without over stating the concepts behind the work I’ve done my job well.
GH: How do you use symbolism in your work? Are there any lessons for the viewer?
BS: One of the main themes of this body of work is how visual symbols can be iconic and accessible, yet esoteric in meaning. I like to provide visual touchstones for the viewer with the iconic while also allowing room for complex concepts to be interpreted.
GH: Can you explain the aesthetic choices you make in your pieces? For example, why choose to place a fanned pattern in the corner versus in the center of the composition. Are these choices planned or impulsive?
BS: These decisions can be impulsive or planned. Overall layout is mostly an intuitive process but there are also situations where I aim to create tension or a point of focus which requires more strategic design.
GH: How long have you been painting? Please talk about your creative history.
BS: I was born to creative and visually inclined parents who encouraged the art thing. I’ve been paintings since I was 10 and been drawing since I can remember. Later I moved on to work in a variety of media including darkroom photography, sculpture, and every kind of paint imaginable. During and after school I worked as a freelance illustrator. I relocated to New York after college and started curating pop-up exhibitions while working for Ron English.
GH: How has your artistic path shaped the person you are today?
BS: It’s forced me to look for the lowest interest rates on credit cards.