Got back from SF with a big project pending. I had signed up for an installation project at a local gallery Positive Negative. The idea is a group of 8 paint on giant stratched canvas and the public would be able to choose what they wanted (crop) It was pretty last minute for me so I decided to do one big thing rather than a bunch of smaller shits that would take loads of time. It's untitled at this point, but maybe I'll come up with something clever soon.
I'm generally not into theme shows but I was swayed this time. Gauntlet's a new gallery open in the Tenderloin District is SF. In order to get some momentum with the space, he's putting on some large group exhibits to plant some interest in a diverse collector demographic. The invitation to show the show detailed that the theme would be 'your interpretation of a famous piece of artwork'. I wanted to choose something so far removed from figurative painting, so I chose Suprematist painter, Kasimir Malevich and his 'Black Circle' piece (it kind of ended up being the antithesis of the original).
Feb 7th, my girl Lucy and I flew out to LA to hook up with Andrew Hosner at Thinkspace (link). Seeing as the show was a little more exclusive than previous group shows I've done there previously I decided to acquaint myself with the super powers that run one the most prevalent pop-surrealist galleries going. The crew there were homies from the get-go. Andrew Hosner, curator/co-owner welcomed us in and quickly introduced us to Ken Flewellyn, Gallery Manager and L.Croskey, co-owner. These guys are down as fuck and were crazy helpful in getting my hungover ass working. I hosted SNAG the night before and our flight was at 4:30 so there wasn't much sleep happening until I finished work at the gallery that night (only a quick varnish prep/varnish).
'In Our Wake' Opened Feb 9th. Got to meet Jason Thielke but things got a little weird and I'm fairly certain he thinks I'm pretty gay for him. sigh.
The only unfortunate thing to happen that night was that Shawn Hosner, co-owner and wife of Andrew wasn't able to make it out due to a sicky face. Luckily, Lucy and I were invited to their home on a couple occassions and got to meet not only Mr/Mrs Hosner and their gaggle of cats but also their INSANEly comprehensive collection of pop-surrealist, figurative, illustrative, street art collection. David Choe, Andrew Hem, Jeff Ramirez, Dabs Myla, Banksy, elboe-toe, Josh Keyes, Swoon, Crayola you fucking name it, fucking errywhere. We were seriously impressed and humbled. Andrew and Shawn Hosner made LA for us.
Basically the rest of the trip was all no business. A drive to SF, which started off georgeous and all that turned out to be waay longer than anticipated. Lu drove as I was more hungover than ever, as it was my bday before. and apparently I'm allergic to redwine. In SF we hooked up with Luke Lombardo at Gauntlet Gallery (link) as well as some homies from back home.
The Madonna Inn - not worth it hungover/palpitating
Found a Jaybo Monk at the back of at the NEW WhiteWalls
I gave Adam Caldwell a ring when I was out there and arranged a little studio visit. I can't praise that guy enough. He's really got a solid routine going in his life. He's a figurative teacher for the Arts Academy by day and sinister painter by night. This guy's seriously making me reevaluate myself on a lot of fronts. Adam Caldwell (link)
it's late but at least I put it online, sorry. ok?
I feel that my answers to these would be pretty different I was to do this interview again. All too freakin serious for some reason, I think the phrasing of the questions threw me off.
that a lot of your work is about lost and found adolescence. What do you mean
A break in pattern sticks out more than the pattern itself. Like composition in
art, some of life’s most exciting experiences come from breaking our monotonous
conducts. My work celebrates these instances.
Do you think there is an
over-glorification of youth in our society, and in consequence a tendency to
hang on to it longer than we should? If so, why do you think this is?
Our media has definitely shaped our attitudes towards the worthiness of age.
Often, it overlooks ages values and tears at it on more superficial levels blah
blah blah.Thing is, by human
nature, to appear young is to appear as a virile, befitting mate. It makes
sense, but also alienates a ton of people who don’t fit that demographic. This
group is also the people who buy into it hoping to avoid some-sort of social
estrangement. It’s cyclical.
Being an artist requires a certain
limberness of mind often associated with the sense of discovery a child has. Do
you find that the more you know the harder it is to stay creative, or at least
to balance it with the need to be responsible?
school it's acceptable/mandatory to emulate. It would be very difficult to
become a strong painter without some sort of replication through their passage.
The more you know and are familiar with, the more profound and knowledgeable
your ideas and marks will hopefully be. You know what's out there and so you
should know the voids where others haven't explored so go get ‘em tiger. I get
really excited about a lot of different genres and will explore them in a
sketchbook or graphic design stuff. I won’t implement them in my work unless
it’s a good fit. That said, I try not to over-examine other artists so that I
can realize my own marks. So yeah, there’s a weird balance in there somewhere I
guess being fucking freaked by how crazy-talented some people are. There are
times I feel like an ostrich with its head in the sand.
Can you tell us what your creative
process is like from start to finish?
I keep my mind open to situations I’m in, stories
shared, things I find and places I wind up in. But sometimes they stem
from just straight random. Usually the series will only start with a few ideas
or images and pretty soon I get stuck. Then, I ride the bus. For me the bus has
become a creative sanctity for contemplation, brainstorming and reflection.
There’s something about being jostled in it that tin can that shakes it out of
me. My bus rides are full of creative stimulus, billboards, architecture,
arguments, babies, babes and chaos everywhere. You can see a lot of life in 20
My reference shoot starts with a pretty vague idea of how things are to work
out. I keep my angles very flexible and move around the subject a lot. Never
really sure where I’m going with it, I shoot as many options as possible. I’ll also
experiment with still lifes and props trying to expand on the initial direction.
The biggest success in this process has always been keeping my models
comfortable by maintaining good communication, cracking jokes and a bottle of
wine on set. I generally don’t direct for a single look or expression. Continuously
shooting while the model moves in and out of the frame, in between gestures and
expressions. 95% of the time I find the most valuable material when the subject
isn’t thinking about what they’re doing. The in-between shit is raw and
genuine. During this process the direction of the painting changes a lot through
the discoveries made.
My collage has been a great element that contrasts the often slow and arduous process
of rendering. I’ve found that much of my energy goes into foresight. I’m
constantly trying to anticipate how my patterns, washes and strokes are going
to relate the rendered elements on top. Despite being the most chaotic stage I’m
the most calm during the collage process because I know that if something isn’t
going to work in the next stage I can simply add more, take away, wipe-out or
go over. Because of my worrisome nature, I inherently paint in a way that
mistakes can be embraced. Like my surface prep, my oil palette is much more
saturated than the reference. My goal is to amplify secondary and tertiary
colours in order to create a strong or better, surreal sense of realism. I’ve
said too much, stopping here.
Let's talk about form in your paintings.
You mix realistic figures with more abstract backgrounds, like visions of
decontextualized specters coming in and out of the ether. How much freedom do
you allow yourself when exploring a form and when do you know you've struck
that balance of clarity and obscurity?
Generally when I approach a painting (post-collage) I’m focused on areas that
resonate with the narrative. In the figure, a strong portrait is pretty
consistent in my work. There’s focus also on elements of the figure I feel are
strong characteristics of that particular model. Hands are almost as equally
expressive as faces so they get a lot of attention. Those few things aside I’m
constantly concentrating on the relationships between forms and the collage. I
want to communicate as much as possible but with the least amount of work. If
the surface preparation holds no appropriate tones or colours I’ll turn to stoke
economy type brushwork with my oils—‘cause I’m lazy.
This question is tricky because I feel like the answer has been shifting around
for quite sometime. My earlier paintings depict very clear and rendered figures
that were laboriously worked on for multiple days. Now, I get through a figure
in a day and sometimes feel it was rushed in light of my past work. Now it’s
about covering the bases but without over-polishing and much soft-brush work. I
try to keep a quick pace so that I have to consider my marks more in order to
be efficient. Are your paintings meant to be narrative or simply expressions of a
particular mood, attitude or ideal?
There is narrative behind most of my paintings. Sometimes certain feelings
bring certain ideas and other times I just want to paint something irreverent
or someone doing some crazy shit. In order to have the viewer understand where
these characters are coming from, an environment is added to create context. A
story is born. However the goal isn’t always to tell a story per se but often
place the viewer somewhere they can parallel the painting with their own story.
Have you experimented with digital
painting at all? I have but I’m not very good at it. Digital painting is something I would
really have to commit to before doing it. The programs are fucking ginormous. It
would take me a long time before I knew what I liked doing. I grew up working
with objects and materials. Without substance, I lose attention quickly in my
work. Brb, just saw a cat. Are there any particular ways you see your work evolving in the future?
I won’t elude too directly here. But as you can see from some of my work I
often like portraying multiple perspectives/facets of a subject. The more
angles you see of someone, the better you can understand them and their
circumstance. In some cases you can expect my paintings to become more
cinematic-chronicling multiple events and conversations captured in a single
Show are stacking up. A number of small local exhibits at Positive Negative Gallery and Foot of Main Gallery I'll have my hands in within the next month, twice at Positive Negative. Got a couple flyers and teasers for some of them below. As for the out of town stuff (which I'm waiting for some more deets on) there's plans for work for a pop-up with Thinkspace in Philedelphia, a pop-up in Tokyo organized by local artist Taka Sudo and El Kartlel, and my piece for the 'Mashup' show at Gauntlet Gallery will be shown at ArtPad in SF.
Description: This summer, Artist Scott SUEME traveled overseas to paint in Europe and participate in the 'A Word of Art' residency program in Cape Town (South Africa) along side his friend, DJ, and film maker BIKES. The first installment of their tour video features Sueme painting in Amsterdam & Barcelona. A big thank you goes out to everyone at Montana Colors for their first class hosting and warm welcome in Barcelona! The second part of their tour video will feature Bikes playing gig's in Cape Town and at Afrika Burn while Scott prepares a body of work for an exhibit in Cape Town. Video produced by Don't Look Creative Studio in Vancouver BC.
So back in October I started this live painting event called Snag. Live paintings get painted, yes live and then we raffle them off. Homie, Bikes is our resident and occassionally get the odd magician, burlesque troupe and fairy here and there. Artists split the raffle money pot. Bar sells whiskey. Wednesday slot is filled and continues to be for some time. So I'm told. We've been documenting our evenings and you can feast your eyes on it here SNAGTUMBLR.
Spent about a month working with the Brand Experience team at Lululemon on producing posters for their annual half-marathon 'SeaWheeze'. I don't generally do the flat graphic thing, or even commercial stuff. This is the kind of painting that make you hate straight lines especially having chosen oils as the primary medium. Looking into mermaid references online led me down another rabbit hole of subculture I'd never been privy to. Mermaiding is a thing, it is real, and most importantly can be very dangerous. I also now know what a 'monofin' goes for and what websites provide mermaid-gone-wild type material.
Commission of my best friend growing up, Chase for his sweet mother and at times my surrogate ma. Side note: My parents lived real close and were awesome, but the McMillans had heaps of home brew and a more linient view on that combined with teenagers.