Mike Alan’s Gutsy Graphic Fields and Figurative Abstractions
Mike Alan’s punked-out, graffiti’d up canvases are pretty, provocative and philosophically deep. His interdisciplinary methods, combining painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage, are fucking fierce!
Artist Mike Alan’s synesthetic storms and freakish forms of cryptographic scribbles and skittish silhouettes are some of our favorite artworks out there, hands down. Although he is best known for his brain-bending and knee buckling paintings, he has also been flaunting fierce figurative works, such as his cheeky Trump takedowns and grotesque/glitched-out caricature styles.
His colorful canvases and pitch-noire macrocosms pop with references to modernist abstraction, non-Euclidean geometrics and Bohemian aesthetics. There is a hidden life embedded in his graphical anarchy that agitates the pictorial surface, suggesting a rich presence of a secret and sometimes seething inner world.
There are textural and sexual references that reveal his interest in contradictions, especially those in art, politics and culture; his kinetic mash-ups incorporate a biting dialogue about the human condition, pop culture and the palpable angst that imbues our modern — often manic — times.
Mike has been able to make art that rises to the level of epic visual poetry and fills you up with the sweep of history, newness and nowness.
Like an incendiary collision of Keith Harring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombly, Mike’s art melds imagination, chance, experimentation and madcap audacity. VIVISXN caught up with the punk paint-slinger to pick his brain on topics like the ‘super unreal’, flow states and musical inspirations.
What’s new in terms of new works, inspirations and ideas?
I’m trying to connect and identify with the ‘super unreal’ parts of existence, the ‘living’
surreal reality we live in. Creating ‘unreal realistic’ drawings; paintings living in another dimension; and a ‘3rd reality’, with multiple states of being.
Where and when are you feeling most [artistically] productive?
In general I’m always making art. The most creative times come when I’m doing my best with mind and body, and off the grid. You can make great things in bad states, or in social settings, but I make the best art when I can focus!
Who do you hang with and what do you do in your free time?
I mostly make art and just hang with my cat/partner in crime, JADDA. There’s no one like her in the world! She’s an anomaly who enriches my creative spirit and elevates my outlook!
Where did you grow up?
Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan. My folks are from Bushwick and Coney Island. We lived in Bushwick when I was a kid and then moved to Staten Island. Then I was all over NYC. The city provided endless sources of imagination, inspiration and pure destruction. It was a healthy mixture of good, bad and everything in between.
How are you evaluating the current cultural-political landscape?
I see it all as doomed and apocalyptic. But it’s the best time to find what you love, and get rid of the things that don’t work. Life is fleeting: you never know when your time is gonna be up. Paint and make art like the end is nigh!
What are a few of your fave bands? And what’s on your playlist?
Nirvana! Kurt is basically my gen’s Bob Dylan — he inspired so much! On my current playlist → The Germs, The Screamers, Flipper, Gun Club, Meat Puppets, Butthole Surfers, Crass, Suicidal Tendencies, Coil, The Residents, Misfits and The Cramps.
Describe your painterly style and aesthetic outlook?
A mixture of marks, smears, fades, lines, patches, dots, undulations, and crazy off-rhythm styles. An ebb and flow of human architecture; the human condition forming and de-forming in time, space and in a parallel place.
What makes for a good multimedia work?
It’s all about the distribution of energy — layering, adding marks, materials and motifs that don’t mix well; nothing too sane or too literal. The best art comes from just letting go and allowing your consciousness to get into an intense flow-state — a state of full immersion and deep artistic energy.
How do you know when you’ve finished/completed a work?
The work let’s me know. I think it’s a spiritual thing. It’s hard to explain. A notion of destiny, an encounter with the spirit world; using intuition as a guide, and feeling the ‘end result’ as organic.
Images via Mike Alan
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