Domestic spaces often tell intimate stories of their inhabitants. Andy Warhol’s Factory has been widely photographed, but few have seen images of his residence, a five-story town house, at 1342 Lexington Avenue in New York City. Warhol’s private home looked nothing like the Silver Factory, famously photographed with silver walls and concrete floors. His home was elaborately decorated and filled with a vast collection of decorative arts and paintings. Michael Chow is an avid collector and also lives in a lavish abode, photographs of which I accessed online. For my Exposures project, I was interested in how Warhol’s luxurious home (archived in a Sotheby’s catalog) reflected but also refuted his public persona. Along similar lines, I wanted to explore the interior of Chow’s home.
When approached by The Warhol’s Associate Curator of Art Jessica Beck to do this iteration of the Exposures series, I was faced with the task of bringing together the 2016 exhibition Michael Chow aka Zhou Yinghua: Voice for My Father and the theme or concept of Warhol’s life and practice. In my own painting practice, I bring objects from a personal biography into imagined domestic spaces, creating depictions of abstracted space with unusually placed objects and patterns.
Prior to creating two new paintings for the Exposures series, I created a painting based on my childhood game room and what I think British painter David Hockney’s game room would look like, titled Hockney’s Game Room. I used Hockney’s own paintings as a source of reference. During this process I found myself thinking about what Hockney’s painting process might have been. I discovered myself trying to invent Hockney’s own interior space based on his artistic style. This made me curious to imagine myself working with other artists to depict elements from their public personas (their art practices) and their private spaces (their residences).
From there I produced two new canvases, which incorporate elements of Warhol’s and Chow’s homes into one depicted space. Both artists had their own personal collections of art and historic memorabilia from Lichtenstein and Chamberlain to Native American linens and pottery. I used oil paints for these paintings to work with the ever-changing nature of this medium to resemble the changing nature of one’s personal space. Some colors dry faster than others, some have different and changing sheens, similar to how people change their décor, coloring, and overall design of their homes. These situations continue to be in flux and were influx with these artists themselves.
Similar to Hockney’s Game Room, I referenced Chow’s and Warhol’s art practices to incorporate in my depicted spaces. I work with unusual materials in these paintings, similar to Chow, and reference color and silver material from Warhol’s practice.
Focusing heavily on color influenced by Warhol’s famously Pop palette, I create a surreal sense of home. Colors, forms, and objects are familiar to many, not just the artists. In my depictions I simplify forms, confuse space, and create ambiguity for the purpose of a more universally interpreted sense of home.
My work revolves around this idea of the human relation and familiarity to home spaces. What defines personal space? What makes home spaces universal? Is it a function, a staple furniture piece, a color, a memory, or several of these factors? I incorporate unlikely materials into my paintings. These materials are derived from materials found in dwellings, such as carpet fuzz, cement, wood, contact paper, drywall tape, masking tape, tar, etc. I aim to use these materials to evoke a realm of memory and familiarity that painted depictions cannot quite do alone.
I would like to thank Jessica Beck and Eric Shiner for this incredible opportunity and the enormous support from both of them toward the development of my work and practice. I would like to thank the entire Warhol team, Katelyn Gould, Paul Matarrese, Abbey Sheehan, and Jessica Warchall. Finally a huge thank you to the Carnegie Mellon School of Art staff and faculty.
Exposures: Private Spaces / Public Personas is on view through May 1, 2016. During an artist talk on Saturday, February 20, 2 p.m., Exposures artists Jamie Earnest and Elizabeth Rudnick discuss their installations at The Warhol and their artistic practices with Jessica Beck, The Warhol’s associate curator of art.