Noah Becker Interviews New York Artist Ken Solomon

An Interview with NY artist Ken Solomon

, MAR. 2016

Ken Solomon’s work is detailed photorealism in watercolor but also a deeply developed conceptual statement about our era. Solomon makes paintings of Google image searches and iphone screens - icons and technology so close to us that we can’t see it.  Solomon opens up a visual dialogue with what we consider the mundane and in this way opens a new way of producing a kind of pop art that is non-nostalgic and totally current. Ken Solomon is also widely known by top collectors and Artworld intellectuals as one of the more interesting artists working today. But for some (and this may or may not include  you), Solomon is a new discovery. Ken Solomon’s friend, the exceptional New York based painter Marc Dennis and top collector Amy Phelan reminded me to visit Ken at his Dumbo Brooklyn Studio. What I found in his studio was engaging, painterly watercolors of sneakers and computer related imagery. He's also quite chatty, humorous and knowlegable about art  - all evidenced in the following conversation for Whitehot Magazine. 

Noah Becker: You have been making watercolor paintings of the way a computer screen looks during a Google image search. It’s very Meta of you to do this kind of thing. How do you feel about it? What is your motivation for painting in this way?

Ken Solomon: I don’t think it’s meta. It’s the idea of using a Google image search, which is a universal thing. And also I’m not trying to talk about an image search, it’s more about the word associated with the image search as a jumping off point. You take a word or a phrase and it will give you nineteen results.  These Google results could be opposite, they could be the same, and so forth.  

Ken Solomon, Google Portrait, 24" x 34, Watercolor, 2015

Ken Solomon, Red Chuck, 12" x 17", Watercolor on paperboard, 2015

Ken Solomon, In progress, Google Portrait - Ed Ruscha, Watercolor, 48" x 84"

Becker: So it’s a somewhat about randomness.

Solomon: Or disparateness.

Becker: Hmm.

Solomon:  Even more so I think about opposites. Like the word “enter” can be associated with “do not enter”, or a multitude of associations.  

Becker: So it’s like language turned into imagery then back to language.  

Solomon: Yes language and Google is starting the idea for the painting through image searches and maybe finishing the idea. 

Becker: It’s interesting in the sense that the computer browser is a household item at this point in history. In the context of pop art the browser is as common as the Campbell’s soup can was at a certain point in history.  

Solomon: Also when you take a look at Google image searches there are juxtapositions, details, unexpected relationships between images and a host of surprises within a single word image search. WM



Noah Becker

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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