I’ve known the owners Bernard [Picasso] and his wife Almine Rech for a long time. I’ve known them for 30 years, longer than that, and spent some time with them in Nîmes when I had some paintings in the Maison Carrée.
You’ll walk into the first room, and there will be three paintings from 1990, that are on canvas tarps. I used a hose to kind of disperse the ink [on them]. There was oil paint on a tablecloth and I threw the tablecloth up at the tarpaulin and then these images came out. I didn’t have a preconception about what they were going to be. One kind of looks like there’s this sculpture next to a green stalk, and another is kind of a big purple shape with lots of things that look like printed curls of hair or something, and then there’s another one that’s kind of emptier with a white box on one side. They’re going to hang alongside Virtue, which was made in 1986 on an army tarp.
I think [the gallery] wanted to show the kind of relationship between what I was doing before and what I’m doing now or what I’ve been doing. In a smaller room will hang two reverse paintings. They’re paintings that I was working on in Mexico. They began when I was spray painting one side. The spray would come through. I thought, you know, the backside looks more interesting than the front. There’s something generating its topography [that’s] disconnected from what it is, and there’s a kind of freedom to that, of not knowing how one arrived at something, so it’s more mysterious and less predictable. So, I made some paintings like that, they just, they look like abstract spray paintings.
Then there are three Goat paintings. The goat’s standing on this hill, overlooking, who knows what, Olympus or something.
I just think it’s interesting to see how images are formed. Basically, if you have no hierarchic notion of what paintings are supposed to look like or what their appearance should be then you can kind of include all of these different things. If you have a Whitman-esque sort of attitude where everything’s equal, then you can be surprising. I like to be surprised.
Somebody sent me some wallpaper, thinking I would like it, not necessarily to paint on, just because it was my style. Then my daughter Stella saw some other wallpaper that was similar, and she bought it. I started to photograph the wallpaper and blow it up on polyester, which is the way that these paintings are made, they’re all on polyester.
And these images [he points to the naked women] are from the public domain. For some reason, in this particular series, the girl is always naked and the guys are dressed. It looks like a nice sunny day at first glance, but then it starts to seem like something really horrible, really ominous, is happening.
[He points to the purple drip abstract paintings, which look like aerial shots of a mountain.] Those forms come out of bumps that [were on the floor of my studio] where I had poured resin. I was using the hose, and the gesso and the ink were spilling on this floor. I took pictures of the floor with my iPhone and then I made these paintings.
It looks like you’re at 35,000 feet. It’s nice that something can be physical and pictorial at the same time.
[He leads me into the anterior room of his studio, where three irregularly shaped and large-scale abstract paintings made from pink tarps hang on three separate facing walls.]
Ok, so for example, how does something like this happen? I’m driving down a road and a guy is selling toys and [other] little objects. This is the awning that’s covering his, shielding him from the sun in Mexico. So, I’m looking at this pink thing, and I’m driving and I’m thinking, God. I stop. He thinks I’m going to buy some toys and I say, well how much do you want for your tienda? He said, “Two thousand pesos.” I said, “Okay, I’m going to give you two hundred dollars.” He said, “Give me five hundred pesos.” And I said, “Wait a minute, I’m not bargaining with you, I just gave you a thousand pesos more than you asked me for …”
Anyway, I saw this material and I thought it was very beautiful, so that’s it. And then I tied a pole in between two palm trees, and the way it sat made a bow in the middle. I thought, “Why should I make it rectangular?” The whole skin of it had a history to it. The dirt gets in it, and the discoloration of the sun, and it leaves marks. It’s very hard to find that kind of space in something, or to make art like that, so, you know, I see something like [the tarp] and I think, oh, it’s just the treasure of Sierra Madre, you know, I just lucked out.
When I don’t feel like doing anything else to it. I just think, if I do any more I’ll just ruin it.
Yeah. I remember Bill Gaddis writing something and he was looking at the sky and he said, “and for a moment you saw the whole material of beauty”, and as he watched the sky form and then kind of dissipate and disappear, and [then he said], “’till the darkness marked the sky and it was no more”. It was a, um, yeah … [he pauses]. Different people have different ideas about what they think beauty is. —[O]