Pulverizing Rabbits: An Interview with Ariana Papademetropoulos Before Her Solo Exhibition In Los Angeles

After her solo show opening this weekend at MAMA gallery in Los Angeles, artist Ariana Papademetropoulos might make a film about killer mushrooms that murder young punk kids. This should give you an idea of her creativity – it's a boundless creativity that bursts with schizophrenic, hallucinatory imaginativeness. Her paintings literally split at the imaginary seams, tearing into new images – half hidden sadomasochistic scenes are obscured by foggy veils, and midcentury living rooms peel into wood paneled dens where shadows portend dark and dangerous things. There is a Freudian element - her paintings feel like repressed memories, places where we were abused and aroused, places where we learned about our sexuality; places where past lives lived, made love and died under unknown suns. In her work, the hippocampus unfurls like a beautiful prismatic flower and drips with vibrant eroticism. It's truly electrifying. You can see many new works this weekend at one her first major solo exhibitions in Los Angeles – a small house will be built that will make her paintings come to life. We got a chance to visit Papademetropoulos in her studio to discuss her work, her life growing up in Los Angeles, and her new show, Wonderland Avenue

OLIVER KUPPER: Did growing up in Los Angeles inspire your work?

ARIANA PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah, in a way, I guess without me really wanting it to. It kind of seeped in. I’m from here. I kind of grew up in Pasadena. My dad lived in Venice. I moved back and forth between those two worlds.

KUPPER: It’s hard not to be fascinated by Los Angeles

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: There are so many strange things that keep popping up. When I was younger, I was in Pasadena, but then I learned about Jack Parsons and Majorie Cameron and that whole realm. There are always these undertones. Even in upper class neighborhoods, there are always strange things happening.

KUPPER: There’s always something dark going on. Even in Beverly Hills.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Totally. Everywhere.

KUPPER: When did you know that you wanted to become an artist? I read somewhere that your parents encouraged you at an early age. Was there a defining moment?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Not really. I think it was just the only thing I ever did, since I was literally a kid, which sounds cheesy.

KUPPER: Was there a moment when you knew that you were going to do it for the rest of your life, or was it natural?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: That was just the only thing I did.

KUPPER: And your parents encouraged it?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah. My dad is an architect. Everyone on my mom’s side of the family is an architect. I just wasn’t really good at anything else.

KUPPER: So you were around a lot of creativity?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah. It was very natural.

KUPPER: Did you know it was going to be painting, or were you ever working with other mediums?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I think it was always painting. I would love to do other mediums as well. I would love to move into installation. I’d like the works to get bigger and bigger – to envelop you in a sense.

KUPPER: To take on a life of their own?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah.

KUPPER: And your parents never wanted you to do architecture?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: No. They actually told me not to do architecture. You actually don’t get to be that creative, unless you’re very very very successful. Working for an architecture firm would mean me painting pictures of people’s cats for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t get to do what I want. Unless you get up there. But I would love to do architecture.

KUPPER: You’re part of this really exciting art scene in LA that has started to grow, especially among female artists. Do you find strength in this collective energy?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: No. I feel like most of my friends aren’t artists. Most of my friends are musicians. I don’t feel like I really exist. I don’t have a core group of artist friends.

KUPPER: Do you feel like there’s a creative energy in LA going on that’s stronger than it’s been in the past?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Totally. Everyone is moving here. I just don’t exist in any realm. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on. It’s a good time to be in LA.

KUPPER: When did you start developing your style?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I’ve been painting in a similar way since I was like fourteen. I was really into the style of vintage clothes. There was this one dress that had airbrushed flowers and patterns on it. One of the backgrounds of my painting, I copied the fabric from the airbrushed dress that I wore. That started off the whole thing. A lot of people think my paintings are airbrushed.

KUPPER: But it is brush work?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah, it’s all brush work.

KUPPER: Amazing. Do you start with the image and work backwards towards obscuring distorting it?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I create the image first and then distort.

KUPPER: So the image is underneath it the whole time?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah. It’s almost as if it’s collage, in a sense. I’m just photographing them in the in-between state. I work with a lot of these vintage erotic, nude postcards.

KUPPER: I wonder why erotica is not like that anymore. Maybe it was the Internet. Maybe it was the times.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: There’s no mystery. There is, but not really. Everything is kind of disgusting.



KUPPER: What is the symbolism behind the distortion of the work?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: In a sense, I’m interested in creating images that trigger the viewer’s sense of psychology. All images do this. I think when images are in limbo, they can be perceived in more than one way. That, to me, is more interesting to me than giving it to you all at once. I try to make things to inspire the view to use their own imagination.

KUPPER: It seems like an alternate reality. You could peel the surface off to reveal something more.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I’m really into that. I think most of my paintings have a layer of separation. There’s a double layer. This makes the images seem more tangible to me. The thing on the other side might be real, because there’s a barrier that’s separating our reality from that one.

KUPPER: It brings to mind Magritte’s philosophy of the treachery of the image. Ceci n’est pas une pipe. The image is something else entirely. That deals a lot with psychology. It’s interesting related to the time period of the images you’re working with. In mid-century film, you would have these split images, and your whole perception of things is skewed.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah. When you’re watching a film, you are in the film. Similar things have been coming up a lot in my work.

KUPPER: Do you spend a lot of time sourcing your images? You probably dig deep to find them.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I do. I think half the time is making the images, and half the time is actually executing it. I do spend a lot of time figuring out what to make first.

KUPPER: How long does this process take?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: It depends on what kind of deadline I’m under. I’ve done this whole show since January, which is kind of nuts. I haven’t left my studio. I work like 16-hour days, just going nuts.

KUPPER: Is that ideal? Do you like that pressure?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I’d like to have a little bit of room. But this is how I always seem to work, always at the last moment. I’m used to it.

KUPPER: It’s an interesting juxtaposition – to be rushed, but also to have to be so meticulous.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah. That’s something I’ve learned – to never rush. If I rush, it will take me longer, in the end. But if I just zone in and do it right, it’s fine. I never try to rush. I just get lost in it.

KUPPER: Do you apply any practical theory to your work? Classical training?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: No, not really. I just use turpenoid. I don’t know how to use anything else. I’m really into rabbit skin glue. That’s what I put on the canvas. It’s literally pulverized rabbits. You have to get the powder and put it in the pot and boil it. They’ve been doing it since the Middle Ages. The rabbit’s skin glue is clear, but it’s sparkly. It’s magical.

KUPPER: Where do you get rabbit’s skin glue?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Just at the art store. I like the idea that pulverized rabbits make sparkly glue.

KUPPER: Your upcoming show, “Wonderland Avenue,” was the title based off those murders from the 80s?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah, but it embodied all my ideas about Los Angeles, in a sense. I wasn’t super keen about it being about the Laurel Canyon murders. But it made sense in my ideas about spaces, how they change over time. For example, that house where the murders occurred, the Wonderland Gang lived there. But before that, Paul Revere and the Raiders lived there, a psychedelic band. That street was 60s, with the Doors and this band and that band. It was this magical utopia. And the name itself – “Wonderland Avenue.” In Los Angeles, especially in Laurel Canyon, we have all of these street names that are like Disneyland. I’m interested in how Los Angeles becomes itself. The newspaper would say, “Oh, LA, where all the movie stars go!” even though there was nothing here. So people came with this idea, and then it was created. History intertwines itself. Fact and fiction interplay.  

KUPPER: It’s very manufactured. That name sums up a lot. It’s a great title for a show.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: My work is kind of magical, in a sense. I don’t want to say that, but the palette has a magical quality to it. It’s both light and dark.

KUPPER: And you’re creating a fantasy, just as LA is creating a fantasy.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Yeah.

KUPPER: There’s an erotic element to your work. Erotica is something that you seem interested in.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I think it’s a natural thing. Women are the most beautiful things. Of course I’m going to want to paint them. I strayed away from painting people for a long time, because I felt like I had to get away from portrait. But I like putting them in these different situations, like the woman with the plastic on top.

KUPPER: Oh, yeah. I guess it’s erotically charged in the sense that they’re naked.

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: When a woman has panties on, or stockings, how is that more sexy than being completely nude? These accessories that cover you up actually make you sexier. I think my painting do that, in a way. They’re only giving you a little bit. Whether they’re erotic or not, I’m not sure. Like, I have a piece that’s a picture from Poltergeist. When you only get a little bit of something, it draws you in more. I’m using that idea of eroticism with all my paintings.

KUPPER: What’s next after this?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I don’t know yet. There are a couple of art fairs that I’m supposed to do. I’m probably going to take a break. I’ve been talking about making this film for four years, and I’m finally doing it.

KUPPER: Can you talk about the film at all?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: It’s kind of hilarious. It might not be a film; it might be more like a picture book. The movie is about a killer mushroom who murders all these young punks. It’s all my friends, and everyone has a role that’s exactly for them. One of my friends delivers the boys to the mushroom in exchange for snacks. She doesn’t understand that the mushroom is killing these people. But the mushroom isn’t killing them; she’s just turning them into plants.

KUPPER: Is it going to be a feature or a short?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: Short.

KUPPER: Are you shooting it on film?

PAPADEMETROPOULOS: I’m still wanting to make a book out of it instead, a bunch of photographs telling a story. Kind of in the same way of a comic book. It’s like a graphic novel but with photographs. All my friends are like, “You have to make a movie.” I might try to do both. 


Wonderland Avenue opens March 12, 2016 and runs until April 23, at MAMA Gallery in Los Angeles. Click here to see a tour of Ariana Papademetropoulos' studio. Text and interview by Oliver Maxwell Kupper. Follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE


"To Hide To Show" A Group Exhibition That Explores the Nature of Hiding and Revealing: An Interview With the Artists

Opening tomorrow night in Los Angeles, MAMA gallery will present To Hide To Show, a group exhibition derived from a contemporary French social anthropological study entitled Montrer / Occulter, which loosely translates to the exhibition’s title. The artists chosen to represent the ideas and concepts behind this study, and its conclusions, experiment with the notion of concealing and revealing on a societal, intellectual and creative basis. These artists include Clara Balzary, Zoe Crosher, Nana Ghana, Ariana Papademetropoulos, Mattea Perrotta, Fay Ray, Lisa Solberg, and Johanna Tagada. The concept of hiding and showing lends itself as a true analysis of the assembling and dissection of the human psyche, in a constant battle between order and sabotage, between how we present our true self to the world and how we feel about inner self – the dark ghost that is always haunting from within. In To Hide To Show, the artists are interpreting these multi-dimensional, anthropological, psychological and metaphysical concepts using varying degrees of personal reflection, historical reference, visual language and controlled performance. To Hide To Show is the idea that concealment is to make something sacred and exposure of that sacredness is equal to degradation. To be revealed in this exhibition are the artists' artifacts of what they hold sacred while at the same time what they choose to defile.

Read the following Q&As to learn more about each artist in the exhibition…


JOHANNA TAGADA

                                                   photo by Jatinder Singh Durhailay

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? From a tiny village in east France.  Now based in London.

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION: Nature, daily life, feelings and traditions.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD:  A chance for "places"? My lover's arms; Nara in Japan and all the small villages near by; my grandparents’ farmhouse.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Painting. I also do drawing, photography, video, publishing, sculpture, textile and installation.

MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH: I enjoy very much working with all mediums mentioned above and I look forward to do more modular sculptures. In a conversation with LA based BOOK STAND earlier this year I said "It is important to question the physicality of the medium with which I am involved. It can be something difficult, for example, one of my main mediums is painting, which has such a big tradition, but that is also so often seen again and again as “dead.”  Push the reflection further, compose, question, endlessly, and yet keep it simple and understandable on various levels. I like to create a dialogue between the various mediums with which I am composing in my body of work. Every thing is connected, my paintings are like the roots, my photographs might reveal the seeds, my publications are the branches that are like traces of the growth of the tree, the videos and installations pieces are like the blooming flowers of my work that are only seen occasionally and that should be enjoyed together as a whole."

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: The world.

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE:  What do you call "strange?" Here is something happy and unexpected: Meeting Yoshitomo Nara, one of my favorite artists and assisting him for his lecture on the occasion of his retrospective at the Dairy Art Center in London last fall.

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? Insecurity.

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING? Positive feelings, happy memories.

WHAT’S NEXT? Épistolaire Imaginaire - Les Fleures du Japon: a solo exhibition and the U.S. introduction of my piece Épistolaire Imaginaire (it first premiered in Tokyo, July 2014) opening on July 11th at at IKO IKO x BUILDING BLOCKS (LA) in collaboration with BOOK STAND.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS? Working on projects and exhibitions through which I can bring positivity to people's lives. I truly hope for my work to be a trigger, softly, like a warm hug pushing people to make positive and meaningful changes. Despite my soft and tender imagery, the ideals I pursue as a human, as an artist, require hard work and strength. For my artistic practice and lifestyle I am inspired by the way of life from my ancestors, I do best to apply this to the period of time in which we live. Such decisions for example imply saying no to mass produced food and clothes, creating my publishing work with acid free paper, binding them by hand, it's a little like being a Poetic "Punk". I am very attached to nature and I do not believe in a hierarchy system in which the human sits on top. Therefore life choices such as being Vegan are relevant to my body of work.

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY: Oneness


MATTEA PERROTA

 

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? Venice Beach, California 

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?  Anywhere and everywhere. It’s all in the tiny details of what is existing in our peripheral, and what we choose to take note of. Curiosity inspires my work most. 

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: Any ocean.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Oil.

WHAT IS THE MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH? Bronze, plaster, wood. 

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: Being comfortable sharing what is hidden. I often times have these moments and think, “what the fuck am I doing?” This is always a break through moment for me because I go deep into my unconscious when I work and lose sight of my reality. I work from emotion, pleasure and use my work as a vehicle to understand what the hell is going on around me. When I take a step back and leave my unconscious is when I’m tested. It’s what I’m revealing about my hidden emotions and seeing this abstract emotion painted on a tangible object is wild. Sometimes it works and can exist in my reality, and often times I’m not ready to share it. Vulnerability is difficult for me, but my work has helped me become okay with sharing what I’m hiding.

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE:  Anytime someone asks you what your painting means.

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? I won’t tell. We’re all hiding something, aren’t we? These things are what make us more complex and interesting individually.

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING?  Life is very, very complicated. I’m trying to understand the absurdity and beauty of it all through my work. 

WHAT’S NEXT:  I’m currently at Al Maqam Artist Residency in Marrakech working on a new oil series for a fall exhibition. I’ll also be showing work alongside a handful of Moroccan and French Artists in San Francisco this October.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS: That’s difficult to say considering I barely know what I’m doing tomorrow. I only work when inspiration strikes. I hope to be traveling and understanding more about the world, being inspired from the places I visit and people that cross my path. The unconscious comes to me during these moments, and these are the moments that get me in the studio creating. I see myself working on large-scale paintings and working 3-dimensionally with plaster or wood. I’d love for these two mediums to have a relationship and co-exist in the same space.

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY: “This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top,” David Lynch.


NANA GHANA

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? I am from a coastal village called Bakaano in Ghana West Africa

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION? I look for inspiration from everyday life, people, places and things.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: Favorite place in the whole world? Hard to say, there are many places I still haven’t been yet, I guess it be in the arms of my lover.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Performance art and filmmaking.

WHAT IS A MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH? The medium I like to be working in is exactly the medium I am in right now: performance and filmmaking

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: The greatest discovery thus far as an artist is that that the path of the artist is a spiritual journey.

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE:  Strangest experience as an artist, like Jim Morrison said, “People are Strange.”

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? Nothing

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING? Everything…take it all.

WHAT’S NEXT: Keep doing dope projects with amazing people and sending African Alien Mermaid vibes to ALL.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS:  In five years….Keep on doing what I'm doing but get to higher levels…Cause there are levels to this shit!

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY: Life is a feeling process…I love Feeling…feeling it all.


LISA SOLBERG

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? Chicago.

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION? Everywhere… boring, but true.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: Iceland or Indo.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Oil paint, ballpoint pen.

WHAT IS A MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH? Black sand.

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: Beauty.

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE: Saying I’m an artist.

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? It would ruin the show if I said! 

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING: I like the unexpected.

WHAT’S NEXT?  I’m doing a performance based installation/strip club, pimping out a snowcat in Utah, exhibiting a new show at 24HR PSYCHIC, and continuing to write on the side.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS:  With a secondary studio on a bunch of land out in nature someplace.

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY: Go big or go home!


CLARA BALZARY

WHERE ARE YOU FROM: Los Angeles, CA.

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION: Books, films, and out the window.  

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: The south in the summer. 

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Photography. 

WHAT IS A MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH? Writing. 

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: That to dig deep into your own work isn’t always all that dissimilar from a 9 - 5 job. 

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE: Going on trips up north alone to take photos and realizing I hadn’t spoken out loud for days. 

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? Boring light. 

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING: That Oooh heaven is a place on earth!

WHAT’S NEXT: Breaking away from shooting pretty girls by default. 

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS? On the southern coast of Italy dressed like Truman Capote. 

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY: Life’ll kill ya. 


FAY RAY

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? Southern Califronia

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION: Rocks.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: Any beach.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Photography

GREATEST DISCOVER AS AN ARTIST?  If you keep making work, you learn things about materials, process and meaning and if you stop making work you don't.

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE: It's all strange.

WHAT'S NEXT: I am in a group show in Miami titled Bananas at Gallery Diet in Miami from June 19 to September 5th

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS? My only hope is to still be making art and to be grateful for whatever is going on at the time.

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY: Reward yourself often.


ZOE CROSHER

WHERE ARE YOU FROM: I was born in Santa Rosa in Northern California, but never lived there, growing up the daughter of a diplomat. I often describe my life as covering the Cold War Hot Spots - Germany in the late 70s, Moscow in the early 80s, Athens in the mid/late 80s. I spent the last few years in High School in suburban MD (years I have basically blanked out.) Then I did the rebellious thing of going to UCSC, while my parents went on to live in Seoul, Korea in the mid-90s, where I did spend a junior semester abroad. CalArts called me for my MFA, which is how I moved down to the Los Angeles area.

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION: It depends on what time of day and what day of the week! Generally cinema and architecture (particularly about Los Angeles, and particularly from the 70s and 80s) inspires me, as does work that collapses theory and inspiration. Really good art writing can light a fire as well. Ladies who own who they are, have agency and are generous in nature, who really find their own course, are an endless inspiration. Recently, I’m overwhelmingly moved by someone known only as “Madame” from Lotusland - Madame Ganna Walska  (please see here for more). I learned about her while doing a small residency up at the stunning garden in Santa Barbara. Just read her bio to see why I’m so inspired - she is noted for selling a million dollars worth of her jewels in the 70s to buy super rare cycad seeds to complete her gardens. She made her own clothes, staged her own plays, had numerous husbands, built out her fantasy world - she even wrote an autobiography called ‘There’s Always Room At The Top’. I think she even helped start the Audubon Society, to stop millineries from decimating birds for hats! Along with lady eccentrics, my current obsession right now is tending towards gardens - I’m thinking a lot about what gardens and art collections have a lot in common - constantly fighting entropy, chaos, decay, collecting, endlessly archiving, etc.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: I’m defaulting to the Ice Hotel for some reason right now. Perhaps it’s a conversation from tonight, speaking to a lady who is getting married and on the fence about taking a honeymoon. It is something I didn’t do right after getting married, which I regret - and for some reason I always thought going to the Ice Hotel in Sweden would have been amazing (it harkens back to a childhood fantasy in Superman, when I fell in love with his crystal palace, appropriately called The Fortress of Solitude.)  I also default to a fantasy Italian villa that is rustic and perfect, complete with the food and wine that magically appears in between siestas, long walks and other distractions.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Right now, I’m terming something I’m calling the IMAGIATIC - as opposed to the “photographic”. I come out of a photography background, but have always felt limited by the terms of it, terms which have in the last few years melted away. But instead of tending towards this sort of New Materiality that so many of the formerly photographically-inclined in Los Angeles do, I’m tending towards a more expanded field of photography that I am terming the IMAGIATIC - concerned with the imaginary, the image, etc. The medium itself doesn’t matter, it’s almost a conceptual conceit. Thus I’m engaged now in sculpture (natural bronze), fools gold dust, desserts, billboards, compositions, publications, and still of course images as photographs, anything that engages with the imaginary of Los Angeles. For it is not the medium that determines the message, it’s the imaginary that does.

WHAT IS A MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH? I’ve already jumped into it - and am learning an infinite amount right now about bronzing.

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: Walking into Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room at Robert Miller Gallery when it first was shown - before the Whitney, before its infamy. I was in NYC, somewhat annoyed and downtrodden about the commodification of Chelsea, when I fell into a line to go into this nondescript  trailer sort of thing. I remember being so annoyed at having to wait in line (and it was a very short line back then), then only to discover the life and mind-bending perfect art moment. Discovering that piece, discovering the potential of art, discovering the promise of Art, it was a joy I will never forget. And it is a joy that keeps me going through the dark days of the current art world.

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? How angry I am at/with the extreme and horrendous level of sexism that exists in the art world. And how crazy it makes me that so many women with power perpetuate this sexism.

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING? My endless enthusiasm.

WHAT’S NEXT? Bronzing all these “blossoms” from various disappearing and rare plants from the Lotusland Garden. A lot of these incredible plants do a sort of last hurrah dance, with reproductive organs (sex parts!) that grow sometimes ten times the size of the plant itself, going full out right before the plant dies! I’m collecting all these blossoms, both male and female, from super small blossoms to super huge pieces - it’s been quite an amazing experience to work with these incredibly rare and extensive gardens. I am also continuing my conceptual mapping of Los Angeles, this time through its discarded palm fronds. Ideally this project consists of about a hundred natural bronze palm frond sculptures, all of which are unique and named according to where they were found in and around Los Angeles. There will be an exhibition of a handful of them at LAXART, opening on September 12th.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS:  Similar to my life now, but at a more expansive scale. I already have in mind the things I want to do and make, and I have tasted what is possible when there is real support behind a project. I think expansively, from huge, harrowing archives to cross-country billboard projects. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to get Swarovski involved in the crystalizing of one of the entropic Shangri-LA’d walls I’m commissioning, which I’d love to have produced all over the world (I want to see what a London florist will do vs. a San Paulo florist will do, when given the challenge to create their fantasy of Los Angeles, in any way they want, as a wall of flora and fauna.) I’d love to find the right place of support where the means and ways can catch up to what I already see and imagine in my head - and it is something I can’t wait to realize. It’s an inspiring time right now in my practice.

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY?  Don’t confuse the personal and the professional - make sure your true intimates have nothing to do (or as little to do) with your work life as possible. In a time when so much is privately and publicly collapsed, it’s hard to tell why someone might engage with you. When it comes to your home and romantic life, take that ‘what can you do for me’ and whatever power question completely out of the running. Make your personal life about something more than what you do.


ARIANA PAPADEMETROPOULOS 

WHERE ARE YOU FROM: Pasadena and Venice California.

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION: The more I think about it the more I realize that it’s very difficult to pinpoint. It’s not from being in my studio this I know, it’s from experiencing life outside of it, anywhere from attending a lizard convention, to a castle or a gun club. I would say that it stems from anything out of the ordinary, but even the ordinary can be really, really strange. If I am on a deadline and need to come up with something quickly I’ll go to places with a concentrated amount of information, i.e. library or museum, the optimal place being The Huntington Gardens that contains a bit of everything.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: The Greek Islands.

CHOSEN MEDIUM: Oil paint.

WHAT IS A MEDIUM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE WORKING WITH? Electricity. I would love to start making marvelous light fixtures.

GREATEST DISCOVERY AS AN ARTIST: That a painting can possess you.

STRANGEST EXPERIENCE: Last year I co-curated a show where I planned out a séance with Andy Warhol for the artist Jeffrey Vallance. Before the show, the medium, Joseph Ross and I got into a little quarrel.  We had originally agreed he would be dressed in normal attire (not actually normal he wears fabulous purple suits and feathers in his hats resembling a 90s pimp) but that he wouldn’t be in a costume of Andy Warhol. This was so that the audience wouldn’t think we were phonies.  Anyhow, an hour before the séance is to begin, he tells me that Andy has communicated to him that he refuses to be channeled unless Joseph gets an outfit and a wig. I couldn’t argue with a ghost, especially not Andy Warhol; so he got his way. Later I found out that Andy Warhol would sometimes have impersonators of himself do lectures for him at schools in his wigged disguise.

WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? The taboo, the kitsch, kinky, and strange. Darkness, death and mortality.

WHAT ARE YOU REVEALING? An attractive palate of colors that distracts the viewer. Only the curious realize there’s more to what the surface layer of my paintings conceal. Sometimes it’s a midget handing a zucchini to Snow White from an Italian Snow White porno, or a dead man that’s been so brutally murdered he has become an abstraction.

WHAT’S NEXT?  I’m illustrating a children’s book, recreating the vintage board game Snakes and Ladders and designing a few record covers I’m very excited about. I also have a solo show in Sonoma in a few weeks.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST IN FIVE YEARS:  Hopefully living in a hobbit / storybook home I’ve built.

A QUOTE OR SENTIMENT TO LIVE BY? My high school quote was “If you’re having a terrible day, just pour a bag of glitter in front of a fan and live in paradise”, and I think that’s still a pretty good quote to live by. Although I meant it literally at the time, I think it means that you don’t need much to be happy except for a little effort and a good attitude. 


TO HIDE TO SHOW will open on June 13th and will be on view until July 25, 2015 at MAMA Gallery, 1242 Palmetto Street, Los Angeles, California. Interviews by Oliver Maxwell Kupper. Stay up to date, follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE