The influence of modern art is noticeable in nearly every corner of contemporary culture. Billboards and advertisements across the country boast Warholian ‘pop’ aesthetics, while contemporary art museums have opened in locations as varied as Raleigh and Salt Lake City. It can seem difficult then to discover new artists using the vast canon of modern art in fresh, exciting ways. Two Los Angeles artists, however, are looking back to modern art as a springboard for novel twists on contemporary painting, sculpture, and constructions. In an upcoming show at New Image Art Gallery in West Hollywood, Chris Lux and Augustus Thompson are integrating styles from modern art and making them their own through new approaches in watercolor, sculpture, and installation.
Chris Lux is no stranger to modern art. His oeuvre embodies many varieties of styles from the period – cubism, art nouveau, symbolism – into a cohesive body of work grounded in unique narrative. In his upcoming joint exhibition at New Image, Lux’s work is as disparate as ever, updating two-dimensional work into deeply referential constructions that evoke historical paintings. Many of his cubist-like drawings have the appearance of strange, updated versions of Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations of the 19th century, combining demented smiley faces and crude gravestones into black-and-white narrative visuals. Implementing decoration, ceramics, lighting, and resin into his visual stories, Lux’s work is as technically detailed and meticulous as it is absorbing.
Where Lux’s work is based in narrative and disparate in style, Augustus Thompson’s evocative watercolors and constructions provide a perfect counterpart. Comprising a series of portrait studies alongside constructions in plaster, canvas, and black plastic, Thompson’s segment in the new joint exhibition at New Image is equally as intriguing as Lux’s. Using Aristide Maillol’s epic sculpture The River (1938-43) as inspiration, each of Thompson’s vivid portraits depict a different segment of time in the movement of Maillol’s woman frozen in agony. Even while glimpsing into the pain and affliction suggested within their inspiration, Thompson’s watercolors maintain a poignant and often quite beautiful aesthetic.
Chris Lux and Augustus Thompson’s joint exhibition opens this weekend at New Image Art Gallery and will be on display through September 8.
Brooke Candy is an LA-based model, photographer, and rapper. With a distinctive stripper-meets-Tumblr aesthetic and sample-heavy songs in the same vein as fellow California native Kreayshawn, Brooke’s style and verses are fast, reckless, and absolutely lethal. Boasting a gig as host to Azealia Banks’ Mermaid Ball at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles earlier this month and a slated appearance in Grimes‘ upcoming music video for “Genesis,” it’s obvious you’re going to be seeing a lot more of this rap wunderkind soon.
Words by Eric Torres. Makeup by Nichole Servin. Hair by Alfredo Llamas Jr.
Photography by Alis Pelleschi
With subjects ranging from bruised faces to severed mannequin heads, Scott Caruth‘s photography is unafraid of casting light on beat-up objects most of us would typically pass without giving a second glance. Caruth’s eye for the unusual has created a collection of photographs that are evocative of young adulthood and its more dubious, unexplored aspects. Recently, we had the chance to ask the recent graduate a few questions about his work.
BULLETT: Your work puts typically ugly, ignored subjects – crumbling buildings, cluttered rooms, broken glass, ripped tights – on full display. What about these kind of run-down subjects attracts you?
CARUTH: I’ve always been drawn to those sorts of things. Perhaps subliminally it’s a product of how unnerving I find immaculateness. Besides there’s nothing worse than somebody trying to show you the world through rose tinted glasses, that’s what advertisings for.
Religious imagery pops up a lot in your work. Did you grow up with any important religious influences in your life?
Not really no, neither of my parents were religious and they told me that I could choose whichever one I liked. That’s probably the best approach a parent can take if they want to scare their children away from organised religion. As for it recurring in my work, I’ve always been obsessed with how religious iconography attempts to be welcoming and revering at the same time.
Your locations vary from public bathrooms to churches to gift shops. Where has been your favorite place to shoot so far? Least favorite?
It’s difficult to identify one place that was more enjoyable to take photographs in over another as I feel it is less to do with the place and more to do with being somewhere for the first time. All of a sudden you realise how much your eyes switch off when you walk between the same places day after day.
What is the most sinful thing you’ve had to do to get a good shot?
To be honest with you I’ve never understood why taking a photograph could ever be a bad thing. But police officers seem to find it antagonizing regardless of what your shooting. Militant Israeli settlers are also much better behaved when you have one in your hands. So I guess it can work for you or against you, you just have to take photographs as if nothings wrong. Life would be a lot easier if flashes were invisible though.
A lot of your photos appear to be spur-of-the-moment. Do you rely on improvisation in deciding what to take photos of, or do you go into shoots with a plan as to what you want the subject to be?
I can safely say that I’ve never been on a ‘shoot ‘ before. I’m just in the habit of carrying a camera around with me all the time. It’s only recently that I’ve started thinking of going to places purely to take photographs. I reckon it’s best to take photographs with no preconceptions and to just see what happens. I’m not at the technical stage yet where I can guarantee a photographs outcome. Besides I think its more fun that way.
You’ve compiled your photos into a zine. What was it about the format that interested you? Are there anymore in the works?
I love the process of making books, it’s so satisfying. Aesthetically, photo blogs are nowhere near as beautiful as books are. I’ve also set myself the goal of publishing more books than Nobuyoshi Araki, who’s published more than 400 in his career.
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins would you consider the best counterpart to your work and why?
I guess my sin would be envy, considering my previous answer.
What would you say is a central theme that unites your work?
At the risk of sounding like a prick, I guess the only thing that unifies my work is me. As you pointed out there’s a lot of irregular subject matter thrown in together so it would be difficult to identify one thing that ties it all together. It’s just the way I’d like people to see the things that I see.
What are you working on right now?
Well I’ve just graduated so I’m looking forward to making work that doesn’t always require huge justifications. There’s a couple of places I’d like to travel to if I can afford it and there’s a residency in Cairo that looks exciting so I might apply for that. Other than that I’m looking forward to having no plans for a while other than taking photos and making books.
For more of Scott’s work, visit cargocollective.com/
Lizzi Bougatsos can do it all. As the howling frontwoman for electro-grime outfit Gang Gang Dance (pictured center), and a prominent visual artist in New York’s downtown art scene, there’s no question that she’s a force to be reckoned with. The last Gang Gang Dance album, Eye Contact, was released last May, and since then Bougatsos has been focusing on her art career. But the always enthusiastic Bougatsos found time to talk about the skate deck she helped design, her dream venue (spoiler: it’s underwater), and that time the HBO comedy Girls used one of her songs to soundtrack masturbation
What is your songwriting process like?
I’m sort of a multi-tasker. I write lyrics all the time, whether it’s really late at night or I’m watching Mad Men, I just gather from everything and I have notebooks everywhere. So after there are certain music melodies, I just apply my lyrics to the melody. That’s kind of how it works. I have seven or eight different notebooks that I write in at the same time, but sometimes I write it all at once on the plane or a train. I’m really good at that.
“Mindkilla” was recently featured in an episode of HBO’s Girls. Have you seen the show? What did you think of the song being in it?
I’m pretty thrilled about that. I haven’t seen it, but someone downloaded a clip for me. I heard it was a masturbation scene?
Yeah, it is.
That’s great, I’m totally into it. We were in another teen show in the UK called Skins, and everyone was tripping on mushrooms. I went to see that movie Rampart, because we were in that as well and of course, it’s the druggie music scene.
You guys recently designed a skate deck for Alien Workshop. What was that like? Did you all collaborate on it?
It was interesting cause they wanted a picture of me for the skateboard. I gave them one and then they said it wouldn’t work, so Brian [Degraw] ended up giving one. His is really nice – I’m in the water and I’m in Japan. But I was ready to take it to the next level. So something got mixed up there. I would like to do another one that’s not so nice.
What are some of your essential backstage items?
Red wine, tequila, fresh ginger, lemons. I’ve been drinking alkaline water. I like the New York Times. Ginger and honey is kind of the most important thing.
What’s your favorite venue?
I really like the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Everyone’s so nice there. One time I lost my money in the ATM and one of the security guards went on his mic and said, “Lizzi from Gang Gang needs assistance at the ATM!” That was really sweet. I thought, “Wow, even the security guard knows my name.” I ended up hanging out with them anyway at my shows rather than the people that come backstage, because it gets too crowded and I’d rather be alone.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I have an art studio and when I’m there there’s this website I’ve been reading a lot called Al Jazeera English. It’s opinions of all the things happening all over the world, from the Eurozone, to trafficking, to what’s gonna happen to Greece and those families that make decisions to kill the matriarch of the family. It’s just really intense stuff. But when I’m home at night I like to watch Mad Men. I’m almost done with the whole thing. I’m one of those show junkies. Once I start, I have to watch the whole thing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s two days or a week. Breaking Bad, Weeds–I’ve probably been through them all.
You have done a lot of art on your own that’s been featured in books and galleries. What artists from the past and present have influenced your work?
Definitely Jack Pearson, Così fan tutte, Patti Smith, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Francis Picabia. I like Horst Fischer, I like Kehinde Wiley. He helped Santigold recently on her video set, he styled it with his aesthetic. He does portraits of black men with these decorative backgrounds; I have one of his towels. It’s pretty much all across the board. I’ve studied so many–Linder Sterling was a big one, Dorothea Channing, Salvador Dalí.
If someone gave you 1 million for a live show, what would you spend it on?
I would wanna play on the water in Dubai in one of those techno-buildings. Or underwater would be great, like in a submarine. But in Dubai, definitely. But I don’t think that the guys would like that, maybe we’d be better in a rickety shack in like Bangkok or something. But it would really be fun to have a show on the water. That or the tallest mountain.
What have you been listening to lately? Are you anticipating any new releases?
I’ve been listening to CDs I bought in Jamaica and a lot of my old CDs. Sometimes I listen to things that come up on the internet, but I get bored pretty fast with those things. I like this one song by Lil B, and I really like Spaceghostpurrp. I like Shabazz Palaces. There’s one woman, Fatima, she’s really good. I’m kind of a mix. Sade is always playing at my house.
What are you working on right now? Is there a new album in the works?
There’s a lot of songs that I wrote, but we’re trying to plan out the writing of the new album. Right now I’m just making artwork. I just finished two pieces. I have a group show at Andrew Rose in the beginning of next month, and then I have a solo art show in October at the James Fuentes gallery, so I’m just really trying to make a lot of work in my off-Gang Gang time just to keep myself going.
How are you spending your summer vacation?
I had one weekend in Miami with one of my close girlfriends, but other than that I’m still trying to get to the beach. I like Fire Island the best. I do like to go to Greece, but I don’t think I’m gonna be able to go this year, so I think Fire Island is gonna be my spot.
And now, the premiere of the video of “Only Eyes,” the new single from Icelandic artist/skateboarder/cat-enthusiast Sin Fang. Taken from his forthcoming EP Half Dreams, the clip for the sunny and reverb-soaked “Only Eyes” features Sin Fang (real name Sindri Sigfússon) against a backdrop of colorful, hallucinatory drawings and paintings created by Sindri himself. (Sindri, the founder and frontman for Icelandic pop-folk group Seabear, released his second solo LP Summer Echoes, last year.) The clip, which is so DIY it features Sindri’s own cat, appropriately named Emilio Estevez, serves as a cheerful, perfectly psychedelic reminder that summer is finally here. Sindri, who’s about to head out on a European tour, also directed the clip, so yeah, you can say he’s got talent. Check it out below.