Painter Todd Bienvenu Talks About His Paintings With Noah Becker.
NB: Where are you from?
TB: I grew up in Arkansas and Louisiana, I’ve been in NYC for 15 years.
NB: What art school did you graduate from?
TB: Went to LSU for undergrad, the New York Studio School for grad*, but with an asterisk, I didn’t technically graduate cause I never wrote a thesis.
NB: Who are some of the historical artists you admire?
TB: The usual suspects, Goya, Rembrandt, Matisse, Beckmann, de Kooning, Guston, Alice Neel, Romare Bearden.
NB: Your work is very colorful how do you find inspiration for your paintings?
TB: I try not to think about it too hard, you can rationalize aspects of making a painting, but color is personal. I think my color comes from trying to make abstract paintings that congeal into imagery. The figures don't need to look like photographs or be anatomically correct. My main concern is fusing an abstract sensibility with the added bonus of a story. When you get up close it should just be color sitting next to color.
NB: If you could be any historical figure which one would you be? Lincoln? Henry Miller?
TB: David Bowie!
NB: What do you think about in terms of composition? Is it intuitive or do you plan your work out?
TB: There’s no plan, I just pick up the brush and start. If it’s bad, (the first version is usually pretty bad) I’ll scrape it down and try again. I have a bunch of things going at once so they can kind of hang out until I figure out how to paint them. If a big one gets stuck I might make a drawing of it to try and understand what's going on. I like the immediacy of improvising, if I knew what it was gonna be I wouldn’t need to make it.
NB: Who are some current artists you admire?
TB: David Hockney, Bill Jensen, Kathy Bradford, Chris Martin, Robin Williams, Derek Fordjour, Rose Wylie, Nicole Eisenman, Clintel Steed. I've been looking at comic book artists like Geof Darrow and Frank Miller lately.
NB: How do you find subjects for your paintings?
TB: I don’t want to have to try to hard to find something to paint. I’m a firm believer that if you make something personal, then it can find a universal audience. My memories, daily experiences, friends, family all feed the work. My girlfriend is a brunette, so there aren’t many blondes in the paintings these days.
NB: What’s next for you?
TB: I have a solo show, “Dad bod” opening at Galerie Sebastien Bertrand in Geneva on February 28. WM
Noah Becker shows his paintings internationally. A visual artist, saxophonist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine, Becker has also written freelance articles for many other major magazines. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has also written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010) viewable on Youtube.
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