In The Studio of Sam Friedman

Sam Friedman is an artist whose work we’ve always been appreciative of. In anticipation of his show at Kinfolk’s new space tonight (4/18), we dipped inside his studio to get a look at where he creates and talked a little bit of art with him.

 
So… when did you move into this studio?

I moved into my studio in June 2012.
 
Let’s say you meet a person and tell them you’re an artist. They ask you “what kind of art do you make?” You say…?

I make paintings.
 
When did you first consider yourself an artist? Do you remember making things as a kid?

I was always drawing and making things as a kid, and have considered myself an artist for as long I was old enough to have an identity.
 
Your dad helps you make canvases, right?

Yeah, he has been making a lot of my panels for over a decade now.
 
All of these paintings are very tropical, which is a really cool thing these days. How long have you been making paintings incorporating this trendy theme? How’d you decide on it?

Hahahaha. I try not to make them tropical, but I do paint beaches. All of mine are based off the northeast, so your not going to find a palm tree or anything. I started painting beaches in August of 2008 after watching a storm roll in to the Rockaways at sunset on my wife’s birthday. In the moment, the scene reminded me of the abstract paintings I was doing at the time, so I just took the same language and made a landscape painting the next week.

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Picture Planes: An Interview with Charlie Rubin

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When you look at Charlie Rubin’s new book, Strange Paradise, you realize that the title is really perfect. While the images are striking and lush, full of interesting and beautiful visual flora and fauna, they have a sense of weirdness and unease. It’s the kind of imagery that requires time and pondering to notice all the nuances and cleverness going on behind the scenes. Charlie creates photographs and then takes them back to his studio, altering them in sometimes conspicuous, sometime subtle ways, giving the images an exciting and confounding physicality and confusing our assumptions about what a photograph is. The launching of Strange Paradise, which is out now on Conveyor Editions, will be celebrated tomorrow (4/10) at Printed Matter (complete with a custom window display by Charlie), and everyone should come.
 
Christian: Do you see yourself as a pure photographer in the classic sense, or something else? Your work, while very rooted in photography as a base, has obvious elements and layers of sculpture and painting.
 
Charlie Rubin: I guess I always start with a classic photograph and then build off of it if it feels right, so it’s a mixture of pure and something else. Recently though, I’ve been leaning toward the something else. Even though my work uses painting, collage and sculpture, I still see the final image as a photograph. I also include straight, unaltered, photographs in series and have side documentary or portrait projects. The medium is transforming fast, and it’s made me transform as an artist- a reaction to the utilitarian nature of it and how anyone can take a beautiful photograph these days. It happened naturally for me; I got bored with a lot of my own imagery because I didn’t find anything unique about it anymore, so I needed to find out how to bring meaning back in to my images.

My little sister showed me this app on her phone the other day where you can add light leaks and dust particles to your iPhone photos and I’m like, “Whoa, someone is turning in their grave.” My work is a reaction to these things, to the yearning for physicality, for something real and non-screen.
  
Tell me about how you came upon your process of moving the digital back into a physical realm. Did you have an “A Ha!” moment when you discovered a way to make something new with your photographs?
 
Like I said, it was a response to the feeling that my pictures were losing meaning. I could take the most awesome picture of a sunset with five rainbows and plants and beautiful people in front of it, but it just didn’t matter because I could open up my laptop and find five images just like it. I had to work with the medium and figure out how to convey my frustration and conceptualize this change in the visual cultural landscape surrounding me. It’s also a fantasy or escape from the monotony of imagery I was seeing and making.
 
At first I experimented with ink on my photos, influenced by graffiti and other mark-making techniques, and highlighting what I found important in the photo. I made a breakthrough some years later when I used inkjet ink on an inkjet print and everything came together.

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When You Read An Interview And You Imagine That The Guy Asking The Questions Sounds Like Johnny Utah

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Keanu Reeves talks to Robert Longo. “Fuck yeah.”

Pud Season: An Interview with Jason Nocito

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If you’re an idiot, you might look at Jason Nocito’s beautiful new book, designed by Ari Marcopolous and Camilla Venturini and premiering sixteen new photographs, and say, “It’s a bunch of pictures of puddles.” And you wouldn’t be totally wrong. Aptly titled PUD, Jason’s new book does heavily feature stunning large format images of iridescent pools filled with cigarettes and leaves, but it a lot more than that. It’s an ode to Charlie Brown, death, and American street photography, for starters. I called up Jason while he was working in Los Angeles so he could explain it to all the idiots.
 
CHRISTIAN: I got a look at the book. It’s beautiful. It’s shorter than what I’m used to but I think that really works well.

JASON: I guess it’s shorter but I don’t really see it as a one-off, done deal. I don’t think of it as a conscious project, it’s just a body of pictures that I put together.After making I Heart Transylvania, which was a larger body of work, this is like the beginning of something else for me. I Heart Transylvania was very personal, and so is this work, but in a different way. It’s personal without showing any humans, which is really different than I Heart, which showed a lot of close people in my life.
 
You shot the whole thing on an 8×10 view camera, correct?

Yeah, it started a few years ago when I as talking to a friend about Ten Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass, the Ed Ruscha book. I guess it started before that actually, when I moved back to New York from Vancouver. Every place I am, I want to make photographs. I’ve never been the person who says I’m going to go to this place and do this project and do it and be done. I’ve always kind of hated that, it’s not what I’m about. I was living in New York and I was burnt out professionally and emotionally. I would walk around the city all the time with my head down, like a lot of people do, and I would see all these things. That’s what I was looking at, so that’s what I photographed. A lot of that stuff is made right in my neighborhood in Chinatown. I tried it a few different ways with different kinds of cameras but at one point I met with my friend and photographer, Danny Gordon, and we talked about 8×10 large format camera. Its a different process and a different microscope to look at things. I started playing around with it.

I’m also really interested in the 8×10 process and the way that, in five or ten years, the process will probably be gone. It’s sort of a slowly-dying way to make images and the film will probably be impossible to get in the near future. I was really interested in using it as of an extension of thinking about death.

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Creativity in Revolutionary Times: An Interview with Sasha Kurmaz

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When I first met Sasha Kurmaz, I had never thought of his home base of Kiev, Ukraine, as a hotbed for civil unrest and upheaval. His photographs certainly didn’t change my mind. Sure, there was a certain air of Eastern European military industrial sadness, but the colors were too bright and the kids were too naked and drunk to be in any real danger. Sasha’s work is simultaneously funny and confusing, sexy and weird. He works with ideas of youth, sexuality, and how those things exist outside of our western world. When I heard about the turmoil in Kiev, I immediately thought of Sasha, my friend who signs every email with “Hugs!” and who is always eager to share his specific brand of oddness with the world. I emailed him to find out how he was coping and what it’s like to be an artist in the midst of a revolution.
 
Christian: First off, how are you? Are you safe?

Sasha: The situation in Ukraine is really tense. Kiev is calm right now, no shots fired or people dying, but the situation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is very complicated. I find it difficult to talk about the “regime change,” mostly because the regime has not really changed. One gangster regime is gone, but this new one we have has gotten their hands dirty too.
 
Do you see yourself as more of a European or a Russian, or are those divides not as important as the news media makes them seem?

In my ideal view, I see a world without borders and states, where there is no distinction of race and nation.
 
What’s it like to be an artist in Kiev right now?

Being an artist is very difficult in Ukraine. No artist, myself included, can think about art when people are dying. But you have no choice; you either stand by and watch, or act in the protest. I’ve shifted my focus. I’ve painted political graffiti on the walls of the city and glued posters. At the same time, I’m trying to create a photo archive of the conflict. The situation here has a direct impact on everything. I think art acts as a mirror for what is happening in society. In Ukraine, after what’s happening in the Maidan, art will be more political and radical.
 
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Printables

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Christo by Barbara Rose

He wrapped monuments, government buildings, coastlines, islands. Now the artist is preparing for possibly his most ambitious projects to date, including what may be the biggest art structure in the world.

Just For Fun

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Early paintings and a 1996 interview with KAWS

“I would much rather have a piece sitting in a gallery, out on a wall or riding by on a freight than sitting in my studio where only I and a few other people can see it.”

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Just a Normal Dude That Loves Music

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Tim Noakes gets a rare interview with Madlib over at Dazed

Attention To Detail

Jeff Koons on Balloon Dog

“I gave myself this sabbatical, which stretched then into a lifestyle that lasted all my life”

An animated 2002 interview with John Updike about leaving New York, and writing while raising a family in the latest Blank on Blank.

“Have you seen my Twitter stuff?”

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Raymond Pettibon in conversation with Kim Gordon

“I feel like a tragic hero in a Shakespeare play”

Tupac Shakur on Life and Death in the latest Blank on Blank

Printables

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Q&A With Art Spiegelman, Creator of ‘Maus’ by David Samuels

The influential artist talks about his Jewish Museum retrospective, ‘Mad’ magazine, and how the Shoah trumps art all of the time

via, longform

“I’m not afraid to use beauty to draw people in.”

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A sort-of interview with Todd Hido

Classic Tales Season Two

Jay Howell and Jim Dirschberger’s animated interview series for Vans Off The Wall TV is back!

[Read more]

Printables

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An interview with David Shrigley by Will Self

Ahead of this month’s Turner prize exhibition, nominee David Shrigley tells Will Self about the rewards of drawing, Warhol, and why he is giving Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth the thumbs-up

Kurt Cobain Was Always in Pain

That’s what made his music so good. Here’s an interview by Jon Savage from July 22, 1993 that’s been animated in the latest Blank on Blank.

 

“With words and pictures, you can do just about anything.”

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Mental Floss gets a rare interview with Bill Watterson

“I used to think other graffiti writers hated me because I used stencils, but they just hate me.”

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Banksy in the Village Voice

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