the best of the new a_roniousness: 17 selections
17 pieces from 2017. all available to display, presented here in chronological order
they say you gotta look back to move forward, so with that in mind, here i'm going to highlight some of my best art completed this year. if you actively follow me on instagram, which is the best way to stay up-to-date with what i'm working on, you've seen this stuff; besides regular posts, with the addition of 'stories' to that app, i typically document what i'm working on in real time. i have also dropped all these pieces in the homepage/ main gallery of this site, but haven't figured out how to add viewable descriptions to that section yet, and go a lil' crazy when trying to figure out the more technical stuff [i am NOT a tech guy], so currently i'm just building 'content' with the aim of sorting out the rest sooner or later. regardless of all that, i can post the images in larger dimensions in the blog post format, with descriptions to give you some context. i also still have a lot of my strongest pretty-recent work up at Casa Verde in Jamaica Plain, check it out & tip yr bartender or server well, i got mad love for the staff over there! super happy to have work on display in my hood, very much itching to get another gallery show going as well though, so this post of 17 pieces on boards from 2017 can also serve as a vessel to show any curators my newest work available to hang & hopefully sell (i did not include anything from this era that already sold or was gifted). i've been confined to a pretty small apartment for the past couple years, with art piling up and extra space scarce which has me pragmatically working on smaller sized boards, but i've been itching to work larger though would prefer to sell some stuff first to make room! gotta keep the work & living area somewhat orderly to stay sane...
that's me recently caught in the act by my friend Robin, thanks for the pic! the piece i'm pictured working on is my newest color board completed as of writing this; look out for the final result in the last pic as we'll now go through 17 notable pieces from 2017 chronologically. also, while this will look well & good on yr mobile device, its intended for a larger screen so you can observe detail better.
probably because i was born on the 17th of august, 17 has always been my 'favorite' number. i'm clearly odd AF and though i have never been any good at math, concepts like prime numbers, the Pythagorean theorem, Fibonacci sequence, pi, etc. have always interested me. i popped 17 into the ole wikipedia machine for shits & giggles while making this post and noticed that within the Brodmann area of the cerebral cortex in primates, area 17 is that of the primary visual cortex, which processes visual information in the brain, so what better an excuse to focus on 17 pieces in this year of 2017. this body of work was created in a transitory period of my life, having become unemployed after 11 years working the same job, left with little to show for it; it thus chronicles the mania yet also creative freedom i experienced within this period, ending with me in a less precarious place, having secured part-time work to hold me over. now more than ever i want these selections to be seen in public and could also really use some art sales; i would eternally appreciate any help getting this work on display in a Boston gallery, if anyone has any thoughts, please don't hesitate!
click on any image for an expanded lightbox view! titles & info follow below each piece
blood inferno masquerade
12"x12" cradled artistboard. Witches Brew black ink x OTR Blazing Red ink. at this point i was still using xacto blades for scoring these, before moving on to scratch knives later. made on an 'artist board' which are the cheaper style of boards that have a canvas-like ridged texture; i've since moved on from these types of boards because i prefer ones with a smoother texture for the cutting process, but the rougher surface does make for cool effects in conjunction with the Witches Brew ink dauber. after experimenting with adding red to the black dauber ink style in a notebook i called the no bleed palpitation papers, i brought the black with red style to various types of boards to a pretty wide range of results. i use the specific red ink because its a bit weak so interacts with the black without muddling it, but when i spray-seal the final pieces, the red loses color and becomes closer to a red-orange, which i don't love as much; i'm currently pausing on the black&red boards until i figure out a better method so that doesn't happen. regardless, of the several boards in this vein, this is definitely my favorite. i title my pieces after the fact most of the time, they can be somewhat arbitrary, but i thought this one worked perfectly. this is currently on display at Casa Verde in Jamaica Plain.
returnt to her essence
a 12"x14" deep cradled gessoboard which was a reaction against my very loosely-themed series of mostly multicolored abstractions i had been making called the 'clusterfuck theorems' which were largely wilder & unwieldy abstract explosions. wanted to reign it in a bit with some more controlled compositions which still embodied my style/aesthetic. this piece feels to me like a sequel or revisiting of a theme set forth in a piece from at least a decade earlier, on canvas, called 'caught between worlds' made at a pivotal transition point in my life after a particularly traumatic breakup which had me feeling like my reality had been pulled out from beneath my feet. the central figure in this piece reminds me of the one perched in between realms in the older painting, which makes sense as it was made in a transition period after my job of 11 years ending which left me again in between paths wondering which direction/s i should go from there. haha and its of course also very vaginal, reflective of my need for female energy in my life, if we're putting all the cards on the table... definitely an isolation / insulation theme here.
10"x10" deep cradled gessoboard. 3D embellished with OTR Slimer latex paint used for the eyes in the background, a signature style i've done in multiple pieces. my color pieces can get super hectic & chaotic in composition, especially around the time i made this, so i consciously tried to keep it 'cleaner' and more controlled with this piece. i made this on superbowl sunday, alone & not watching the game, hence the title... while the face is very serpentine/demonic and i probably used hashtags about the reptilians and interdimensionals in its instagram post, i feel like this piece is just as much about isolation, surveillance and/or feeling like you have all sorts of anonymous eyes watching you even in solitude via social media. i have no interest in any sports, which is not to say that i'm against them (i actually played football for a couple years in high school believe it or not); that being said watching the superbowl with family or friends is something you're supposed/expected to do in the eyes of american society, so even though i had no interest i almost felt inferior, a loser for being alone & not watching it with my crew, while conversely also reveling in that disconnect. i chose a lower quality, oily black ink for the background intentionally, it interacted with the spray-seal in a cool way, looks greasy & grimy yet wet. super happy with this one & look forward to do more juxtaposing chaotic abstractions in the foregrounds with calmer more controlled backgrounds. to my musician friends, i always make sure to crank out square pieces for potential use as album or single covers, if you have something that needs a weird cover HMU!
plight of wombmyn
this is a favorite for my black & white boards, 12"x9" cradled artistboard with Witches Brew ink scored with xacto blade. sometime i can go too far with the ink slicing & make it too busy but i feel like it was balanced just right with this piece. the eye/heads at the top left which look like the location marker on an iPhone have popped up in multiple pieces since. an old friend of mine's father was a genius artist and at an event about him recently i was showing some work to some people who knew their way around the Art World and one of them was like this is the one and i definitely respected her opinion so am holding onto it to be seen at my next proper showing and/or could make a cool t-shirt design with its dimensions...
i of infinity
12"x16" deep cradled claybord [when i spell it without the A in board it is to indicate the piece is on an Ampersand board which is of a higher quality than the Blick boards, which themselves are pretty great, most especially their new smooth-textured gessoboards]. another attempt at balancing my creative order and chaos... i was honestly very unsure how people would react to this one but its one of my most popular pieces on Instagram with almost 100 likes which is a lot for my page! i'm planning on having it scanned for prints/clothing printing possibilities eventually. while i kept the composition pretty clean i still got to go a lil crazy with the background, frenetically mixing it up and creating the squiggly lines using a steel-tip Krink K-66 squeeze marker, one of my preferred utensils. i reuse all of my K-66 bottles with new mixtures but the steel-tip extension goes after a while and you can't find them for sale on their own anymore, if anyone knows where i can grab some plz hollar! haha. this image came out good but in person this piece has a super juicy wet texture. i love what came out of the background, the little cosmic jellyfish lookin' things and other ghosts of the cloud-chasms... and the focal figure is the infinity sign shape, popping that idea into its universe...
eye am everywhere
11x14" cradled claybord. as you can see from the previous Witches Brew ink dauber pieces i had been cutting up the ink and/or adding red embellishments, so with this i went back to basics without any of all that, since i thought it didn't need those additions as was. once i got it up on Instagram it got a way better reception than usual pieces so apparently it resonated with people. prominently features that eye/location icon that appeared in the previous b&w piece. has the whole all-seeing-eye/panopticon/big brother surveillance type of vibe though could also perhaps be seen as one figure affecting those around them through the energy they emanate...
mansOfWar in our see of consciousness
11"x14" cradled claybord. while my titles are almost always chosen after the painting is done and are sometimes somewhat arbitrary, i feel like this one works perfect with the jellyfish-like figure suspended in the cosmic sea-of-consciousness like background. this piece could be about the gnostic notion of 'as above so below' in regards to idea of existence being a sea of infinite consciousness of which we are all simultaneously individual droplets of water and the entire ocean itself, and idea which i gleaned from a David Icke book years back. i paused on conspiracy literature like that years back because it makes you go crazy, but some of Icke's metaphysical ideas have especially stayed with me. while much of my color work has an intergalactic, cosmic type feel my imagination has also always been captivated by the ocean & the creatures of the deep so i like that this piece has that feel.
though a small piece at just 8"x10", this one was huge in the development of the Witches Brew ink cut-up series. firstly, i had been doing these experimental pieces on the cheapest boards i use(d), the rougher, canvas-like textured artistboards, as i figured out the style. second, i had been using xacto blades of various sizes and styles for the cutting/scoring. the xactos' points aren't that strong and that's all i needed from them; i wasted tons of blades constantly snapping off the tips. also, with that rougher board texture, the actual cutting part of the process was not enjoyable, there was a violence to that part of the process with the resistance, blades snapping, lines going in weird directions... while there is a violence inherent to the actual art in this style, which i love, i hated the violence in that part of the process, if that makes sense. so to remedy all that, this was the first cut up ink piece i made on a smooth gessoboard; also it was the first i experimented with using scratchknives/scratchbord knives instead of the xacto blade. both upgrades were positive progressions, i like how the ink looks on flat, smoothly textured boards much more and they're much easier to score/cut, especially in conjunction with the scratchbord knife, which has a stronger point and enables greater line control. these type of pieces look so much glossier in real life, pictures can only do it so much justice...
the violence of yr absence
12"x16" deep cradled claybord. created this while making my _ronitape mixtape 'sex&candy&violence' which you can hear here. i almost solely play records while i paint (unless i'm in too deep and switch to cassettes since easier to handle) so usually am adding tracks onto the newest mix as i get inky. i love this piece and immediately wanted to do prints of it, however i think two of the b&w cut-ups which follow it turned out even better in hindsight. it's a bit busy with the cuts, but also probably the most intricate. i've always been super inspired by the line El-P spit in the Company Flow days, "even when i say nothing it's a beautiful use of negative space"... though i usually don't allow myself to leave much negative space i do attempt to, with varying results... in this one i channeled that idea a little though, in the bottom foreground the negative space in a female figure-like shape, paired with the title, says enough i think...
12"x12" deep cradled gessoboard. this piece took the b&w cut-ups to the next level with the introduction of a new instrument to the process, the fiberglass erasing brush. i'll be expanding on this process in an upcoming blog post, but quickly, the brush became the final part of the process before the spray glossing, after i cut up the ink on the board. the negative space areas are still all marked by very light ink dauber textures, plus dirtied by the process of me cutting up the ink; going back in at the end with the erasing brush refines the white areas, while still leaving faint ghosts of the ink, making the piece 'pop' a lot more. it's now an indispensable part of the process, and super enjoyable. i love the title, think it works with the spiderweb/queen mother type imagery in the foreground, affecting the entities surrounding it...
subtitled, "[or, how i learned to love the blast as long as yr by my side so we can melt into each other]". 11"x14" cradled gessoboard. a crazy color explosion after lots of b&w work. though my pieces usually don't center on a certain tangible thought, this one has a clear influence. with how insanely fast the news cycle has become in the times of trump, this news story is ancient forgotten history... but back in May, kim jong un & trump were flaring up the nuclear pissing contest, and i read an article about it the morning i made this painting, wondering if the sociopath douchebags in control of the world's nuclear arsenals were about to cut our lives short with a mushroom cloud blast. and how much it would suck (even though it would be a moot point since we'd all be dying) to experience that alone without a loved one in my life to melt into. macabre, but romantic? haha
alone in the blaze
12"x12" deep cradled artistboard. i had completed this and another black and red board months earlier actually, minus the spray seal, because i realized the red ink faded with that step so held off to see what i could do about it. on the other piece, not pictured, i tried a second coat of red, and though it didn't ruin the piece, i don't love the results and didn't enjoy adding that step to the process, it felt like it was ruining the piece's energy and subtleties. ended up spraying this one with just the one red coat and am super cool with the results but have since cut off making the black&red style on boards until i figure out a more happy medium for the red. also with this piece i was still using xactos on the rough textured artistboard, leading to violent and harder to control cuts; while i think it worked out on this board, i much prefer the calmer cleaner precise cuts the flat boards x scratchbord knives make possible. as for the art, it has a sacred feminine amidst the black iron prison vibe for me; chose the title since the red became more of a red-orange with the spray seal, going from blood to fire...
get in where you fit in [LocayShun]
12"x12" deep cradled artistboard. this was an experimental one; i solely use the Witches Brew ink on these boards, but i also use Marsh Ink T-grade with the same ink dauber on paper (i posted about that series here), and have used it on boards in the past, so for this piece i tried it out again. the Marsh is thinner/ weaker than the Witches Brew, so it was noticeable in how it rubbed off a bit and faded some from the wear-and-tear of cutting it with the scratchbord knives plus erasing brush. the spray gloss coats restored it well, but from now on i'll keep the Marsh for the Arches paper exclusively since they work so well together, and the Witches Brew doesn't fade from the cut-up process. regardless, i like how this turned out, the symmetry of the slicings feel just right. the title and piece had to do with thoughts on my current and future location; i moved to Boston in 2001 for college and never left post-graduation, so the thought of "do i want to be here? or did i just stay here 'cuz i didn't know where else to go?" come up frequently, especially after going jobless after working the same gig in town for 11 years. it feels like home here but i also have dreams of leaving like rupert thomson...
sink or swim?
12"x16" deep cradled gessoboard. this is one of my best b&w cut up pieces, however since its so glossy it was hard to capture a picture which did it proper justice, i will re-shoot it or hopefully get it imaged for prints asap! after experimenting with various scratchbord knives and other engraving tools in the previous similar pieces, with this one i had figured out which sized blades were best for the process, so the cuts are much more controlled and subtle in this one. also went in much heavier with the erasing tool to refine the white with this piece. i love the results but this is best seen in person until i get a truer image. i had trouble choosing a title for this one, went with 'sink or swim?' because of the shark type figure in the top left, and also because it accurately described the main thought in my head at that moment in regards to life, as the walls were feeling like they were closing in on me as my financial situation had become pretty dire after so many months unemployed and a potential job i had been planning on ending up not panning out. maybe it would have, but i wasn't feeling the energy; not some hippy-dippy ish, that shit is so real - as i seek to redefine my life coming out of over a decade of working for someone with famously negative energy, there is no fucking way i am going to voluntarily enter myself into another toxic scenario. shortly after, i instead secured a part time gig that i'm super happy about; it doesn't solve my financial problems, but lightens the load on my head and heart as i figure the rest out...
american dream death melt
12"x16" deep cradled claybord. with much of the previous color pieces in this series i explored more controlled compositions, with this one i feel like i harnessed the wild, unruly and free creative energy typically inherent to my color style, staying 'true' to me while also harnessing the cleaner aesthetic with the more basic background. pretty certain i will make prints of this piece. thematically the title is a good explanation of the piece, a reaction to the empty partisan pandering on both sides of the american political spectrum, the deathly melting of the alleged ideals the united states were built on. both republicans and democrats no longer stand for much of anything, choosing a 'team' mentality, our team must win at all costs, rather than believing in anything of substance. each party flip-flops on their supposed principles; remember when republicans were the 'family values' party but they elected pussy-grabber snake-oil salesman trump, or democrats who were supposed to be anti-war but turned a blind eye for all transgressions of obama's hyper-militaristic reign. if 'nothing matters as long as our team wins' remains the mantra in D.C., we're all in for more gridlock and unsolved problems as the world continues to burn.
what makes a demon?
16"x16" deep cradled encausticbord. i've been limiting myself to smaller pieces forever now, typically 12x16" as the largest i do since my apartment is teensy and bulging at the seems with my art (and records). i've been itching crazy hard to work big again, so said fuck it and went for it with this piece and the next, both in larger dimensions than usual (though would love to go even bigger asap!). this one is classic a_roniousness, looks dripping wet in person and much more vibrant. this reminds me of a very early painting i made well over a decade ago called 'unintentional self portrait' in which i ended up painting myself without realizing it. in this piece, i did not intend or plan out the main demon face that takes up the foreground, it made itself. a cosmic, interdimensional, as-above-so-below psychedelic snapshot. features 3D embellishments with OTR Slimer latex paint, this one must be seen in person, can't wait to get it on display somewhere soon!
i will find you amidst this maze
16"x20" cradled gessoboard. the biggest b&w cut-up i've ever done, and the largest painting i've made in far too long. i'll keep its description briefer here, because i snapped pictures throughout the creative process so i could document it for you guys in its own blog post, soon to come. i'm pretty ecstatic on this one because i feel like it integrates my two main styles, the b&w dauber style with the color style; to me the composition of this, and rhythm, remind me of my color stuff, if that makes any sense? i'll expound on that soon enough in the next post and show you pictures of all the steps involved in the cut-up process. the title and art could be about my seemingly perpetual struggle as a single man looking for real love in our digitally desensitized society; i refuse to use tinder, ok cupid or any dating app, which seem like the only way people meet each other anymore. not judging you if it works for you, but for me it feels empty, selling oneself online in a way that completely turns me off. so instead, i rust in solitude, clearly not an acceptable alternative... trying to navigate that maze before i'm old and all alone. as artists we need to be somewhat self-absorbed to progress our craft yet simultaneously deeply crave love and connection, especially as we continually put ourselves our there to the world through our work to typically disappointing responses. i don't think i can make it out this maze by myself. i know i don't want to.