Alex Cutler shows us his awesome new paintings and teaches us about Alex Cutler
Alex Cutler is a local artist who we've talked to before, but just couldn't stay away from. He's been putting out work like some sort of superhuman factory-man, and it's been freaking us out. So, we decided to catch up with him and grill him on his new stuff, as well as interrogate him about his methods, inspirations, and pet peeves, because art.
Medium: oil paint on canvas, pencil on paper.
Who are you? Spill it.
I’m just an artist living in the 21st century. I like to paint people and honest situations. I’m inspired by whatever feels real to me.
What about reality do you like?
I like to pick away at it and find the truth of the situation. People overlook the beauty of authentic situations. They’re more interesting than people give them credit for. Also, when you pick a subject that’s “honest” or “real,” I can let the paint itself express the drama of the situation.
So you focus more on the paint than the subject? What effect do you want the paint to have, or what role do you want it to play?
I want it to stimulate me, and go beyond just an accurate depiction of subject matter. It needs to meet my desires in terms of color and application, thickness, brush indentations. That's what I'm drawn to. Paintings have a sculptured feel. You can see the road the artist followed to create the piece. It shows the artist’s hand.
What do you like to paint?
People and flesh. The colors in it are deeper and there's more than meets the eye. Oil paint and flesh work really well together, and that’s really fun for me to explore.
Is there any thematic or inspirational difference between your paintings and your sketches?
I have been sketching with graphite since I was a kid, so it's grounding for me. I always know I can get my point across clear and clean with that medium. Drawing is small and intimate and personal for me. Painting is relatively new for me. It takes a lot more energy. It’s a full body experience. Whereas I typically associate drawing with one mood, painting can have multiple emotions for me. Painting is fresh and dangerous, riskier because things can go wrong really quickly.
You love to paint people, but then you have these funny little sculptures you draw too. What’s that about?
I wanted to explore something different with my drawings. My main subject matter is people, but at the same time, I’ve always been drawn to abstract art. It all started because I had nothing to draw and was bored, so I started making little sculptures and realized that no matter what sculpture I was making I would associate that sculpture with something in the world. So I'd try to sculpt something unrecognizable, then try to do something that resembled a familiar shape just to play with the viewer. It’s so far removed from humans, but it still has everything to do with them, because it matters how you interpret them.
What do you want people to feel when they see your art?
I want it to be almost a trap, because I want it to be pleasing on the surface, but I want that initial attraction to the painting to pull someone into trying to make sense of it. Because, I don't even know what the literal meaning of each piece is. That's why I chose to paint the things I do; they've already struck me with mystery. I would like people to create stories in their heads about what’s happening on the canvas.
We’re dying to know what's on that guy’s face. Is he huffing spray paint?
It has nothing to do with a person and everything to do with the face. I was experimenting with brush strokes, and I had this tiny little canvas I didn’t know what to do with. So I took a photo of this guy’s face and cropped it in super tight and started painting. I wasn't even going to paint the bottom of his face, but then I thought, “What if I completely change the palate and did a monochrome description of it?” So just started with grey and black, and made the bottom of his face different. It follows the same structural brush strokes as the bits above it.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
One thing that I really dislike about the human race is the eagerness to label something and move on. I don't want my art to be that easy. I disdain things that are too easy. Things grow on you and you develop a lasting relationship with them because they’re not easy. Even when they’re grotesque or wrong or dissonant, they grow on you because you spend time to try to understand them.
As an artist, there's those moments that happen that make you feel compelled to create something. What was the last one for you?
I get most of my desire to create daydreaming or thinking about nothing. Then an idea will come, and I’ll pick it apart to bare bones and see how it can translate into art. Whether or not it makes it onto something is another story. Usually that inspiration comes from sitting there in a real life situation. It’s usually during breakfast, for some reason.I like to pick away at it and find the truth of the situation. People overlook the beauty of authentic situations. They’re more interesting than people give them credit for. Also, when you pick a subject that’s “honest” or “real,” I can let the paint itself express the drama of the situation.
If you like what you see, or hate it and want to slap Alex in person, he's going to be showing his stuff at our issue release party/ art show on Saturday, March 15th at the Boulder Vapor House from 6-10 p.m.