“All companies, political movements, and organizations need art to speak to people in an immediate and impactful way. Art evokes emotion from people and can be used for good or bad as we’ve seen throughout history.”
How did you start painting? Was it something you wanted to do since you were a kid or have you developed an interest growing up?
Growing up I was always doing notebook sketches, but I was much more drawn to music. So it wasn’t really until I was in High School -about the age of 14- before I started taking art more seriously. The main catalyst was discovering the work of René Magritte.
A characteristic of your art is to combine a traditional art form as painting with the so-called “internet culture”. How did you come up with this concept? How do you see it developing?
A lot of my older pieces were based on images and ads from the internet that I abstracted and deformed. I’ve always been interested in the concept of the facade of anonymity the internet gives people to put on a persona that isn’t their true nature.
When I started making work involving this concept the internet was a much nicer place. The bile, the hate, the worst of human nature hadn’t been exposed to the world publicly and these tech companies hadn’t yet dominated private and public life. While my concept was speaking to this truth about the internet, it became too real for the world that I really have no interest in the concept anymore since it is so obvious now.
Your portraits have as subjects also political figures…What does this say of your idea of the role art plays in society?
Well, I’ve been interested in politics early in life since I was involved in the Noise and Punk music scenes. Learning about political philosophies and movements in the context of history allowed me to make more informed political decisions. Around 2015 I began painting Donald Trump and other political figures I felt absolutely disgusted with. Exposing what I saw as their true face from the public persona.
As for the role of art in society, I think it’s extremely important. All companies, political movements, and organizations need art to speak to people in an immediate and impactful way. Art evokes emotion from people and can be used for good or bad as we’ve seen throughout history.
A strong feeling arises while watching your paintings. Is there anything, in particular, you want to convey to the viewer?
I personally get joy from the pure experience of the way the paint is, the tactile nature. As for the viewer I’ve had people experience them vastly different from my own mindset. I’ve had several people talk to me about why they love Trump as if they interpreted my paintings as positive portraits of him. So honestly I know there is too much room for interpretation in expressionism–it’s one of my favorite parts of art–so I just let go of how a viewer will interpret a piece…well except for the political ones, I correct people on those.
How much time do you usually take to complete a canvas? What is your creative process like?
It really depends on the type of piece. I use mainly only oil paint so I usually have about 10 different paintings rotating at any one time. I have pieces that I do freeform sort of automatic painting in the surrealist manner which can be done in one sitting while I have others that I do sketches then studies then the piece which can take months. It just truly depends on how I’m feeling on the day.
But what I find most important is to be consistent in the work. I work each day no matter what. There is a clarity in being consistent.
How do you see the future of modern painting in the age of digital apparent supremacy?
I’ve always been about the tactile nature of painting. The differences in impasto paint and smooth buttery paint. The layering, the physicality of the movement of paint. I truly think that’s all physical art has over digital art. The paint is an experience that no computer can create.
A piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Start sooner. I didn’t earnestly start painting till 2015 even though I got a degree in Painting and Sculpture. I was busy with music and moving around California working a 9-5 job.
What artist, outside of painting, has influenced you the most for his ideas and works?
My biggest influence would be the musician Elliott Smith. I have two of his album titles tattooed on my wrists. His music has spoken to me throughout my life and continually moves me any time I listen to it.
A piece of art you are particularly attached to emotionally? Why?
This might be a theme but I have two pieces of art tattooed on me “Memory” by René Magritte and “Drawing from Stereoscope” by William Kentridge. They both speak to me on a foundational level it is hard to express but I am attracted to their quiet beauty. They both are also linked to the moments I saw them in real life.
Also, the next tattoo is going to be a piece by Rick Bartow “Crow’s Creation V”.
An artist you want to give a shout out to and suggest our readers? Why?
Well, any of the artists I mentioned before are some of my favorites that all deserve to be seen. Other than them, Frank Tuttle’s works have really spoken to me.
Next and upcoming projects?
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been focusing on building new bodies of work. I have a couple of new series I’m working on.
First is my “Ancestors” series. I am half Hawaiian so these pieces are a more personal introspection into my cultural history, the injustices of colonization, and melding of Hawaiian and American history which mirrors a lot of our modern issues.
The second is a brand new series called “Voyeurs of Human Suffering”. This series focuses on what I see as the main issue of America. I see too often the political and upper classes in America paying lip service to issues but not enacting any change because they profit off the pain of the average American. I’m a big supporter of universal healthcare (Medicare for All), which I think is one our biggest national disgraces how our system literally profits off the suffering and denial of healthcare to a large portion of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured.
Thanks for your time! Want to add anything?
Thank you for spotlighting my work. The only other thing is I have several pieces for sale on my website but, for anyone out there, feel free to email or DM me on Instagram to purchase pieces or commissions or if you just want to chat about art.