AA: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. It was really the only thing I was good at, so I felt a sense of pride in it. I first started painting in acrylics when I was in third grade - my mom got me an easel for my birthday. One of my best memories growing up was my older brother convincing my parents to take us to the SFMOMA to see the Brice Marden retrospective. Around the same time, I was given a Pollock monograph for Christmas.
AA: Yes, definitely. I started painting these great films because I figured they were the last “real thing.” Growing up, going to the theater and to Blockbuster was so cool. Nowadays, I feel like, even though people still have televisions, our main entertainment source is scrolling through the feed. American movies are perhaps the most American thing we have.
I try to give these famous films their due by rendering them as well as I can while still trying to possess them with a painterly hand. Action painting = action movies, frame by frame…
As for athletes, I like painting them because of the incredible motion of a dunk, a shot, a pitch, swing, etc. Also, it seems that professional sports, along with movies, are some of the only things left in this time that only admit skill.
AA: By the real thing, I think I mean the difference between that which is done with the truthful intent of meaningful creation and that which is mere fad. Or at least whatever strikes me as the former, and not the latter. But nowadays that line has been so blurred, as everything is seen together on Instagram.
AA: The movies I painted for my first show (all but one) are American in that the achievement of American cinema was to realize an immediacy, a startling realism if you will, different from the more distant European setup or approach.
Once Brando did Streetcar on stage and Pauline Kale, just beginning, had to look away from the stage because she thought the actor was having an actual breakdown, and once such a presence onscreen displayed how almost uneasily mesmerizing a movie could be, it only escalated from then on. Scorsese said Brando is the marker, there is before him and after him. Add the aspects of the 60's becoming the 70's, the expanse of this country, the obsession with violence, runaways, bank robbers, cowboys, doomed romances, the Beat materials and whatever else and a movie like There Will be Blood, based loosely on Sinclair's Oil, is perhaps a kind of culmination and perfection of one part of these narratives of Americana, and The Shining it’s inverse in that sense, if one is allowing things to be that abstract… of course I generalize, there is always another point to make, or an exception to point to.
AA: I am nostalgic for the time when one knew Rothko was working away each day on the Bowery, and yes also 1975, or 1985 or 1995.
AA: The subject matter is of course indebted to Warhol. As for de Kooning, his ability to “work” paint to his advantage, against all odds, is incredible and never ceases to be inspiring in deflating moments. Talk about commitment and intent, but always elsewhere.
I want a pure image, something that resembles the film being portrayed but is also just interesting drawing on its own… a smile and laugh in pencil that is insane but maybe not quite Jack Nicholson, maybe not at all.
AA: A painting can take a week or a few months, it is random.
AA: I watch the movie on Amazon Prime or wherever I can find it, sometimes just a YouTube search. When I did the first few canvases, which were Badlands, Days of Heaven and Scarface, I had taken photos of the television screen while watching those three movies. So there were many less shots than in Taxi Driver, the first time I just painted while watching.
AA: When I first started the scale was medium, and then as the work progressed, I started getting down to many tiny frames to try and render as much of the plots of the films I could… it varies.
What I enjoy most is when a painting seems to pose a question to me. What this question is, I don’t know. The moments I paint for are the ones where I am a bit confused. That is why painting The Shining in black and white was so exciting. I didn’t know if I could pull it off like I truly wanted to.
Obviously, when I get a frame right, whether it be quickly or after 10 hours, it is very pleasing… but the best feeling is doing something odd, like leaving a frame in basically only pencil, or trying to morph the figure of one of the dead girls in The Shining. Or after days of work realizing the random drips under the frames look... nice.