ANDY MISTER STUDIO VISIT
Andy Mister's commitment to his art is undeniable, upon entering his beautifully sun-drenched Brooklyn studio you can't help but be taken back by the the scale and consistency in the work that he makes. Currently, his time intensive practice revolves around drawing with carbon pencils to re-create beautifully photorealistic scenes from nature. These drawings can take weeks and sometimes even months to complete. Andy was kind enough to talk to us about the evolution of his work and what he's got in the pipeline.
1. You have a very labor intensive practice. Can you talk a bit about developing your style over the last few years and what brought you to work exclusively with pencil?
Around eight years ago I started making drawings of found images, signs and text. I worked in graphite on paper almost exclusively for at number of years, getting better at rendering images and creating the results I was after. I wanted the drawing to be larger and larger which was a real challenge. Eventually I grew tired of just using graphite so I started to incorporate other media into my work--charcoal, pastel, acrylic paint, etc. Someone suggested that I try carbon pencils, which are sort of a hybrid between graphite and charcoal, and I really fell in love with them. Most of my work now involves a combination of carbon pencils, acrylic paint and charcoal. But I still make graphite drawings from time to time if the project calls for it.
2. For a while you were drawing images of crowds from concerts, protests, etc. –– While all of the subjects look motivated/inspired, there is an ambiguity to what they are a part of. What inspired these?
I made a couple drawings of crowds from film stills from "Gimmie Shelter" and the Robert Altman film "Nashville", which made me start looking around the internet for more contemporary crowd images. Somehow I stumbled upon all these photographs taken at concerts on Flickr and I started downloading them and turning them into drawings. I was interested in how these scenes sometimes resembled protests or riots, how a revolutionary or anti-establishment sentiment can be sublimated through popular entertainment. I would crop the original image to make the scene more ambiguous. Then I began drawing riots and protests as well to be shown alongside the concert crowds.
3. Fast-forward, you’ve begun to focus on majestic natural scenes. Be it mountains or cropped shots of wooded landscapes, what prompted this new direction?
A lot of work relied heavily on some historical context or backstory, and I was interested in just working on drawings that could be appreciated just aesthetically as images, where the viewer could just enjoy them immediately. Images of nature seemed like the most obvious choice because everyone can enjoy them. They're pretty universal. And it was something that I hadn't really explored in my work. Most of my drawings depicted destroyed buildings, burning cars or dead people, there wasn't much nature in it.
4. While, there might currently be a focus on nature in your work, the images sometimes have a historical context to them. What moments in history are you captivated by at the moment?
Since I've been working on the nature-based drawings I haven't been focused as much on historical moments, but I have some images from the Brixton Riot in 1982 that I would like to use for a series called "Police & Thieves" if I ever get around to it.
5. In terms of image selection, when you were pulling selected imagery from Flickr, now you’re using a lot of images that you’ve scanned from books. How do you see this body of work evolving as you’re pulling more from tangible objects?
Finding images in books and scanning them in gives me a lot of control over how much detail is in the image, how it is cropped, etc. There is also just something about holding a printed image in your hand as opposed to having a JPEG, no matter how high the resolution. The printed image always has more character, and older printing techniques seem to have captured that better as well. I hope some of that tactile character makes its way into the drawings. Since I've been working more with printed sources the resulting images have become more abstract, more about the final surface, like a painting in a way.
6. What do you have coming up in terms of shows/plans?
I'll have work in a group show at Geoffrey Young Gallery in August. A piece will be included in a site-specific installation that B Thom Stevenson is putting together at 99 Cent Plus. And I'm working with ARTHA on a show that will happen in late fall in New York.