Interview for Hi-Fructose by Brett Amory
How would you describe your work to someone? What are you trying to communicate to the viewer?
Unreal stuff happening to real stuff. I’m attracted to little details and compositions that reveal an almost surreal subject within an otherwise normal environment. I’m trying to entertain the viewer.
What and who have influenced your work?
My friends and peers are the strongest influence on my work. Them and Mrs. Mealiffe, the greatest high school art teacher on earth. Without her, I may have been a cop.
Can you describe your process for creating new work?
I like to drink a ton of coffee and think of crazy colors to combine with images that appeal to me. I either stumble upon these images or I create them.
I sit down and mix a ton of colors. Then I paint these colors until I’ve exhausted them. Then I sit down and mix some more, different colors. I do this all day long until something else comes up.
Tools of the trade?
Paint, something covered in primer, brushes, and food.
A sense of humor.
Whats your favorite color?
What time of day do you usually paint?
Anytime after 10 am.
Music? If so what type of music gets you in the mood?
Lately the Beastie Boys, Ottis Redding, Outkast, Jamaraqui, and Paul Simon.
Can you talk a little bit about your process. Your compositions have a broken or montaged look to them. Do you put your compositions together from multiple sources and what sort of tools if any are you using, Photoshop etc?
I do sometimes combine sources into one image. I do so either directly on the canvas, or by sketching a rough before hand. Any color decisions are also made while painting, or while staring at it for ever.
I know a lot of your work is inspired from black and white photographs and you make up the color. Is this why the light in your paintings feels artificial or you can’t really place what time of day it is.
Yes. I’m drawn to images with highly contrasting values, whether black and white or color. I’m also interested in stage productions and movies, and try to emulate that dramatic or theatrical light in my work.
Your work reminds me of painters that are apart of the “New Leipzig School” do you look at these painters and are they influential on your work?
Neo Rauch is the coolest colorist this side of the Danube.
Are you Santa Claus?
I will be.
Armstrong creates obscure narratives within his work utilizing the language of cinema and classical portraiture. By using ambiguous light, contrived compositions and saturation he invites us to join him in his voyeuristic gaze within urban dwellings. His surrealist rendering of light dictates the viewer’s perception of time, playing with our conceptions of reality. It is in this aspect that Armstrong’s love for cinematic iconography rises to the surface of his work pairing 1960′s Americana within surrealist obscurity. Armstrong hides stories within the framework of his landscapes examining the adversarial conversation between figures and their surroundings provoking the viewer to set his work within an indexical time in history.
Seth Armstrong graduated with high honors and received his BFA from CCA in 2006. During 2005 he spent six months studying abroad in The Netherlands at the Academie Minerva. Seth Armstrong was recently featured in the March issue of Bl!ss magazine and has been featured in Juxtapoz arts and culture magazine. For a full bibliography please see his CV. He is currently an instructor at ASUC Art Studios at UC Berkeley. In September 2010 Seth Armstrong was commissioned by Possible Productions in LA to paint a portrait of Biggie Smalls, which was featured on stage as a backdrop for the back-to-back Comerica Park performance headlining JayZ and Eminem.
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