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Home FEATURES Austin Eddy Interview

Austin Eddy Interview

Written by Ryan Christian   
Friday, 18 September 2009 09:28
This 22 years young painting student at The Art Institute of Chicago is humble and shows much promise.
This 22 years young painting student at The Art Institute of Chicago is humble and shows much promise.

Hey Austin, lets talk about magic. That is one of the first things that sticks out to me in your paintings. Magician gloves, eight ball and so forth. What are your thoughts on magic? What does it mean to have magical imagery in some of these works. Has magic been a lifelong interest or has it been renewed?

My thoughts on magic are always changing. Though I would like to think as an artist I am in a way a magician and in being so I am trying to make people believe in the painting or object much like a magician for hire is trying to convince people to trust in the trick that they are looking at, and letting go enough to lose themselves in what is in front of them. I think iconic magic imagery is a metaphor for the magic found everywhere in the world. At the moment, this imagery has taken the back seat and now is functioning more as an underlying experience in the work.

In the last year we also see a distinctive change in figure in your paintings, from these sort of old dark cartoon looking characters to actual people. What prompted this change? What are these mysterious situations communicating to the viewer.

I think the shift in figure is due to the fact that I finally am trying to face my fear of painting people and willing to have it not work out. Also I felt that the cartoonish representations of the figure would function in a far different way within these spaces and make them more humorous than my initial intentions and potentially change the over all feel of the work. I am not sure what they are communicating to the viewer, I hope that it is different for everyone, but I guess my intent is to try to convey this sense of longing or an underlying sense of sadness that I feel we as people all experience.

Can you talk a bit about your materials, there is also a shift in how you are applying paint to accompany the content change. What do you think things like glue and nail polish and puffy paint bring to the canvas.

The change in application is due to a few things, one being that I am still learning, and feel as though I will always be learning how to paint and also at the same time learning how to fail at it and making those failures function the best that they can. Another reason for the change in application is that I feel as though the much "crisper" or cartoony painting has a different visual association that I am less interested in at this point but am sure will find a way back in when the time is right.

The addition to the types of tools used in making these things has change because they allow for more variation to happen on the surface of the paintings while also adding a wider range in surface value. Plus it just makes it more fun and having the chance to mix and match rather than just working with one type of thing. In the end id like to think that the addition of say: nail polish, glue, and puffy paint gives the work a sense of material play as well as a visual one that may contrast the less light hearted works.

I've noticed the newer work takes place exclusively indoors. How are you thinking of these images in terms of space?

Yeah, a lot of the work takes place in doors, often with windows looking out into the great beyond be it a lawn or some sort of greater landscape. In this case I am thinking about the division of interior and exterior spaces as metaphor for the internal and external space of the mind, where the mental exists only with the awareness of the exterior, but remains isolated from the greater outside realm. The windows act as a place for escape and release within the image for figures depicted as well as the viewer. These exits are made to point at the limitlessness of the outside world, a space removed from the subjects of the painting.

These interior spaces also provide a range of opportunities for play with the flattening of illusionary space and many formal aspects regarding the static qualities there in. These spaces also allow for a lot of manipulation in terms of color and composition that function on a girded structure and make room for some sort of chaos to interjected into this order and have it potentially buzz like a broke down television.

Do you use source imagery or you more of an imagination kind of guy? Where is this imagery/composition coming from?

A lot of these things I am trying to make I am using a lot of stock imagery from art history as well as textiles and other highly patterned objects and images. In regard to the newer work I am also pulling a lot from the compositional tools of Matisse, Avery, and Picasso as well others old and new. That being the foundation or starting point of the works I am also using my personal relationship as well as my experiences of seeing in the world to be combined and tell this sort of ambiguous story. It all really takes place in my head and in order to distill these things I use my imagination in order to attempt to make something interesting if not "new".

These images remind me of Keegan Mchargue, Tyson Reeder, and Sister Gertrude Morgan rolled into one (i mean that in an extremely good way). Who/ what has been influential to your work?

I have defiantly looked at all these people while surfing through the history of painting, and they all have all left their mark on me in one way or another. A lot of this work also makes references not only to contemporary makers it is also heavily influenced by historical figures like Matisse, Avery, Picasso, Rousseau, and many others outside of the "Fine Arts". I think a lot of this work is dealing with my relationship to painting and its history, and how the ease of information exchange through the use of the Internet has changed the ability to see and use the vastness of its reaches. That is to say that a lot of this work pulls its reference points from other artists of all media, as well as "real life" experiences and objects. I find a lot of excitement in the idea of being able to pick up the pieces and shuffle them together in order to make this work.

So you went to SAIC, what are you thoughts on academia and art? I am always interested to hear peoples thoughts on that especially coming from a leviathan school like the institute.

I think school is good and I think art is good, so it makes sense to me that the combination of the two would be good. School for art at the same time makes little sense in terms of a location for learning how to make "Art", it seems like a good place to facilitate the making of it but I think the learning really takes place once you figure out what it is you are interested in and how you want to talk about and convey that interest. Institutions like Art Schools work well as places to figure these interests out, and come into contact with as many resources as possible and become more aware of what is going on out there in the art world. That is not to say that you cannot do any of these things on your own. In my experience I found that school has helped me in terms of being able to think more critically about work and helped provide me with a language to talk about and to make the work. Beyond that sort of purpose, I think these sorts of Schools are good because they offer an incredible community of people who are very interested in similar subjects and modes of making. I mean its costing an arm and a leg to be there why not be as involved as possible.

Upcoming projects, exhibitions, life endeavors?

Well as of right now I am working on finishing up and getting my BFA, and going along with that there is an exhibition at the school. So that is the most up and coming project, coming at the end of October. Other than that the "what's next" is the million dollar question, and I have absolutely no idea what will happen or any idea as far as future plans. I think that my plans often fail, and I'd like to just take it as it comes. As far as life goals, I am thinking I should live it to its fullest and enjoy every second of it and make as many positive connections as possible. But we will see, again it's all up in the air.

Invent something right now, what is it?

A phone that can allow me to commune with the dead, so I can ask Abraham Lincoln what went through his head.


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