A stern figure sits at a dinner table which appears to be morphing into a face; a house grows ears; a smoker blows puffs out of a shirt sleeve; and a figure crawling on the ground, partially clothed with woolen socks and shirt, reaches toward a distant house. Pictorially grotesque, kaleidoscopic, psychedelic and dreamlike, Andy Cahill’s new show ‘Home’ at Brooklyn’s Safe Gallery will have you questioning where the artist draws his inspiration from.
Cahill plays with the familiar, twisting the idea of home as ‘sanctuary’ into perverse, disturbing domesticity, the subjects in the work consist of menacing characters, aiming to expose the darkness and vulnerability of the male psyche. His cartoonish, squiggle-like imagery is created using plastic squeeze bottles. Splattering the mixtures of urethane paint in layered, prismatic fine lines, they appear to hover over the canvas.
We caught up with the Brooklyn-based artist to learn more about his process and where he gets his inspiration from.
QL: Your upcoming show at Safe Gallery is titled ‘Home’. Can you tell us a little about the meaning behind the title?
AC: Home is a simple and evocative word. It suggests familiarity and safety. The paintings are strange. The idea is to move from a position of safety to a position of strangeness. Alternately, you might move from a position of strangeness to a position of safety.
QL: The imagery in each of the pieces appears psychedelic, folkloric or dreamlike, can you tell us what is going on in pieces like “A Tale As Old As Time” and “What Thomas Cole would do”?
AC: “A Tale As Old As Time” is a landscape painting. The landscape is a forest with a path leading to a house, a gate, a fallen tree and grass. There are two figures. The first figure stands at the gate and the second figure crawls up the path toward the house. The second figure is not wearing pants, but he is wearing blue socks. The first figure points to the second figure’s naked ass while looking right at you, the viewer, as if you’re supposed to know what that to do about it. The first figure appears to be experiencing alarm, and we can assume the second figure is experiencing humiliation. The question is whether the second figure is sexually aroused by being humiliated or if he is just being traumatized.
“What Thomas Cole Would Do” is a painting of a figure standing on a small hill, pissing. His piss stream continues down the hill, across a short field and onto a parking lot. The piss stream has pooled between the white lines of the parking lot. Although you can’t tell from the painting, the parking lot is completely level, which makes the way the piss has pooled inexplicable and exciting. Thomas Cole was an American landscape painter who lived in the first half of the 19th century. I assume that he spent a lot of time outdoors, and I suspect that when he had to pee he would not hesitate to defile the landscape with his urine, which is why this painting is called “What Thomas Cole Would Do.“
QL: Your practice is interesting, can you explain how you use plastic squeeze bottles to create the work?
AC: I put paint in plastic bottles and squeeze it out of them. This allows me to make a lot of lines very quickly, more like drawing with a pen than painting with a brush.
QL: Is this practice consistent in your body of work or do you experiment with each new series?
AC: I experiment with different techniques, but all I really want is to use materials that mirror the way I think. Like most people, I think both fast and slow. Fast thinking comes from self assured confidence and slow thinking comes from analytical self doubt. I wanted these paintings to be both self assured and self doubtful. I made all of my marks very fast, but I made so many different fast marks that the image materialized slowly. If you go close to the painting and just look at one single mark you can see that it is a very confident painting. If you step back and take in the whole image at once, you can’t help but notice it is a very doubtful painting. Moving between assurance and self doubt is analogous to moving between a position of safety and a position of strangeness, which is the meaning of the show.
Andy Cahill’s Home will be on view Oct 14 through Nov 12, 2017 at Safe Gallery 1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY.
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