Studio Visit: Scott Indrisek
We recently had the chance to stop by Scott’s live/work space in Bed Stuy. Scott is a painter, writer, and has two of the most awesome cats you will ever meet, Uni and Chloe Zola Volcano.
How long have you had your studio?
My studio is also my apartment, a 2-bedroom in Bedford-Stuyvesant (coincidentally one block away from where Spike Lee shot the entirety of Do The Right Thing.) I’ve lived and worked here for just about two years—before that I was in East Williamsburg. My advice to anyone living in the neighborhood: Find a great, rent-stabilized place you love. And then don’t let them get rid of you without cutting a hefty check.
Best part about your studio?
It’s affordable, in the context of the city. There’s a lot of light, and a back patio. Plus, I get to spend time with my two intrepid cat-companions, Uni and Chloe Zola Volcano, who blog at SHITMYCATSREAD.com.
Secret/favorite spots in the neighborhood?
The immediate vicinity is a bit lacking in terms of bars, restaurants, and cafes, secret or otherwise, but it’s centrally located and accessible to a lot of great stuff nearby. I can’t say enough good things about Outpost Cafe on Fulton Street, which has an amazing back yard (with trees, plants, free WiFi, and ample outdoor electrical outlets). Trophy Bar on Broadway is pretty great, as is Nostrand Avenue Pub down in Crown Heights, which also has a spacious backyard. (I’m not claustrophobic, but I do like to paint, and drink, en plein air). The Carolina buffalo wings at Sweet Science are dangerously delicious, and the 2-for-1 happy hour special at Duck Duck is just plain dangerous.
What currently inspires you/influences your work?
A pretty broad mix, from pop culture to intensely personal, fairly obscure experiences. In other words: Things that are shared by everyone, and things that are most definitely not shared by anyone beyond myself. I interviewed Christopher Williams a few weeks back and, on my Facebook wall, a fellow art critic blasted his work for being “soft and hermetic.” I thought that was great—maybe even a goal to strive toward. I’d like to make Soft & Hermetic a rallying cry. I’m fine with making paintings that are both enjoyable on a surface level and impossibly obtuse on a personal level, a sort of self-communication that may or may not be legible to anyone else.
Why do you paint?
I used to make about one huge painting a year, growing up—strange, borderline obnoxious things. My mom still has one in her bedroom, a huge canvas featuring a cartoon dog, a collaged-on woman, and LITOST, an ‘untranslatable’ Czech word discussed at length by Milan Kundera. When my father passed away in 2009 I inherited his paints and brushes and other supplies, and I started making work more in earnest. Initially I had been ‘painting’ with colored Duct tape, and some of that stuff is probably still floating around out there.
Tell us a bit about your current body of work, what motifs are you exploring?
Most recently I’ve been experimenting with how two distinct canvases change each other when paired together. I was in a three-person show at Beverly’s in the L.E.S., curated by the very awesome Leah Dixon, and she hung a lot of the works like that—in rows, without any breathing room between them. I’ve also been making a series that incorporates a degraded version of the New Directions publishing logo; the first one’s background was inspired by a description of powerfully clashing clothing colors in The Driver’s Seat, by Muriel Spark. That painting got paired into an older diptych with an abstract oil-pastel-on-panel piece inscribed with the words FUCK IT UP MORE, PEDRO—Pedro being an old nickname for my father, and this being a sort of posthumous exhortation for him to take more risks, to get messier and weirder in his work. So, yeah: Soft and hermetic, for sure.
The name “Dick Wolf” appears on a number of your paintings, who is he and why is this significant?
Dick Wolf is the producer of LAW & ORDER:SVU, among other things. He’s also a rabid right-wing Republican, evidently, which I didn’t know when I first began making these paintings. Wolf appears in these works as a sort of powerless, sad clown. I’m obsessed with SVU—my real dream job is to write for this most compulsive and formulaic of shows—and of course the name Dick Wolf is hilariously evocative on its own. Occasionally one Wolf reaches out to another, as in a small painting I did that overlaid the DW character over a pastel forest landscape, my own faux-attempt at a Wolf Kahn composition (one of my dad’s favorite painters).
Can you tell us a bit about your work that uniquely explores/reinterprets paintings your father left you?
Not to be too cheesy about it, but I definitely started copying or reinterpreting paintings my father had made as a way to communicate with him, or his legacy, after he died. Going through his archives my brother and I were always drawn to the one-offs, the strange or inexplicable paintings, the weird ones. My dad painted a lot of very studious still life compositions as well, and even with those, I was always most fond of the ones that had some sort of mistake inherent in them—where the level of the table behind some fruit-in-a-bowl suddenly jumped a few inches from one side of the canvas to the other. The main project I’ve done in this vein has been to copy and alter a single painting my dad made in Manville, New Jersey, when he was in his mid-teens. It’s a grisaille still life of some bowls and plants presided over by an enigmatic little bearded wizard figure. The series I made from this was titled “YR FUCKING STUPID MAGIC”—for some perhaps obnoxious, definitely hermetic reasons I won’t go into here. I made perhaps 8 of these, and have since drawn a version of the painting which I then had tattooed on my arm, which probably marks the end of this particular appropriation.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m interested in further exploring how these paintings can change or evolve in combination with each other—treating them less like independent entities and more like words in a sentence. I’m also interested in making more unique photo prints, some of which would be painted (like a recent work featuring a foil-pack of Sudafed, the empty pill slots filled in with red acrylic).
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