Do you just want to tell me about the show in general?
Sure. So I guess this is my second, third technically, solo show in the city. I’ve been making work about the figure and my personal life and experience basically since I started showing, and this was a departure from earlier shows in a couple ways—it was the first time I was able to show work in that big of a space, so the scale definitely changed, they became much larger, even though I identify as someone who makes small paintings because that’s sort of how I introduced myself to the city and that’s where I feel the most comfortable. But because of the increase in scale, I was able to increase the scope of the work, so instead of being mostly nudes and interiors, I felt like I had an opportunity to talk about the city at large and paint myself on the bridge or the skyline, and the Chrysler building, which I think is such a magical thing to look at. I just wanted to show an identity of New York, I think that I can be a pretty romantic person, and the work is about love and tenderness in ways and I wanted to extend that to the city also, or places specifically there. I also think that the work, I was just trying to open it up a little bit—there are some stranger images than what I’d shown before, like the painting of the seashell over the man’s groin, and of the angel writing a letter, just kind of wanting the setting of my work to expand a little bit.
I read in the New York Review of Books that you’d gone through a breakup—is that pertinent to the show?
I think so. But yeah, my work before in 2017 was all about that relationship, and mostly depicted me and him in our apartment and was definitely focused on these feelings of familiarity or comfort or love; and I think that my life just changed a little bit, and I was experiencing a wider range of emotional states in a way, and I was interested in trying to talk about them a bit more. I like that the review said the show had a feeling of ‘charged solitude,’ I think that definitely was what I was feeling the past couple months. But it was exciting, too, as a 25-year-old in New York, it was kind of a time to experience what most people were, which was figuring themselves out for themselves and not necessarily being in a long-term, committed relationship, which most of my friends weren’t.
It’s funny too with gay guys, I feel like we’re either one or the other, I have a friend who’s such a relationship-type and I’m just not, I just feel like in the gay world there are two different types, there’s the relationship type and then there’s the doesn’t give a shit, hookup type. Would you agree with that?
I think that’s true. When I first moved here, you notice that sort of thing, or that there’s ways of having a relationship that I started to learn about when I moved here in 2016 and wasn’t necessarily what my parents did or what I was exposed to growing up in Southern Maryland.