"I was sitting around with my friend Andrew and he was urging me to think of something for the facade of the New Museum in New York. I had these logs sitting around and I had been drinking booze too often. I was thinking about how stupid it is to drink so much, and sort of thought that I was like this drunk log."
- Jon Pylypchuk
Small Log By Jon Pylypchuk Bronze sculpture mounted on wooden base
8.5 x 5.5 x 3.5 inches Edition of 10, 1 Artist Proof Numbered and signed by the artist
Paul + Wendy run an inspiring online store of artist editions and projects. Jon Pylypchuk's work has delighted me for years, from his early paintings, to his recent wall sculptures with bulging eyes made out of purple light bulbs. To see Jon's work, is to almost take a huge sigh, to whisper to yourself, "it's gonna be alright, man." The worlds he has created, and the emotions he puts forth in his work are unlike any other artist I've come across. When Paul + Wendy told me that their latest edition was the "bronze log man" I immediately smiled. What an amazing combination to come together.
Two weeks later, I was in Jon's studio near downtown L.A., about a quarter mile from my house, chatting with Jon about his latest collaboration with Paul + Wendy, and some of his new work. I wish I had taken photos of his studio, as it mesmerized me. My eyes darting back and forth while in conversation with Jon, scraps and piles of wood, metal, everywhere, and a drum set. We chatted about his family history, casting metals, art-making, and light bulbs:)
It's pretty awesome that YHBHS has continually connected me with such passionate folks such as Paul + Wendy + Jon. I'm completely honored to post this interview on an artist that makes me smile and light up (inside).
Please visit PAUL + WENDY's site here....
Can you tell me how Paul + Wendy Projects originated?
Paul + Wendy : In the early 2000's we started getting interested in art and collecting. Through this we became good friends with several artists. After a while we knew that we wanted to become more involved but were unsure what direction to take. We briefly considered opening a web based gallery and doing art fairs but neither of us really wanted to be art dealers and shortly after most of the world's economy slid into a recession. Our friend, artist Michael Dumontier suggested that we start to publish editions. This seemed like a good way to be involved and to work on projects with artists who we knew or whose work we liked.
At the time Nieves in Switzerland had a big impact on us. They were working with a lot of great artist publishing inexpensive zines that anyone could afford. Locally Art Metropole was an influence as well as Roger Bywater's Bywater Brothers who have published editions by artist like Dave Shrigley, Jonathan Monk as well as our friend, Derek Sullivan. Our first edition was the 'Poster Making' serigraph by The Royal Art Lodge whose members at the time were Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber and Marcel Dzama. It was pretty successful and encouraged us to continue. So far we've published 5 prints, 4 books and a postcard. We'll have a new serigraph by Kay Rosen and a print by Daniel Eatock available soon along with the bronze by Jon Pylypchuk which is our first venture into multiples. buy it here:)
I remember seeing Jon's drip painting at LACMA years ago. The painting must have been 8 feet long, 6 feet tall, and it left a huge impression on me. His last show at China Art Objects included his new works that use light bulbs as an element.
It's as if these characters came to life, emotions at the forefront, glowing tall! Almost as if they walked right out of the gallery, down the city's dirty sidewalks....
How did you come to work with him?
Paul + Wendy: We had always loved Jon’s work and had met him a few times through Michael and Neil. He is an artist whose work we would love to be able to collect but it's now out of our price range. This is where publishing editions is great - we get to own a piece of Jon's work. We approached him about doing an edition with us. Initially, we talked about doing a book of his sculptures from The War series. We all liked the idea but it didn't seem to be moving along very quickly. Jon had already completed that project and wasn't super excited about revisiting it. So we started to talk about completely new ideas. We had seen a bronze sculpture of a cat at his house in Winnipeg one time while he was still living there and had loved it. We said that we would love to do a small version of something like that and Jon liked the idea. After that things came together very quickly, Jon made the log man and then worked with a foundry in Oxnard to produce them.
A Conversation with Jon Pylypchuk:
Who is the Bronze Log man?
Jon: I was sitting around with my friend Andrew and he was urging me to think of something for the facade of the New Museum in New York. I had these logs sitting around and I had been drinking booze too often. I was thinking about how stupid it is to drink so much, and sort of thought that I was like this drunk log.
I made a much larger one with the intention that if the project got green lighted that I would make a bunch of drunk logs walking around the Bowery. I liked the idea and thought that it would make a nice edition. When I got the logs back from the foundry I intended to make them holding a little airplane bottle of Jack Daniel's but it looked better without it.
Many of your recent projects, you are working with casting, in bronze, aluminum, etc. Can you talk about this shift in materials?
I did a show at China Art Objects in 2008 that had 2 bronze pieces in it and I liked how it transformed the materials that I was using. We were living in Winnipeg at the time and I would commute to Los Angeles to work, and my studio practice suffered as i wasn't working as much as I used to. I struggled with what I was doing because I didn't spend enough time in the studio.
When I did go, I made stuff for shows or art fairs and didn't spend the time just dicking around experimenting. I had a meeting with my gallerist Friedrich Petzel and he said that I couldn't keep fucking the same thing to death. It was the push that I needed to implement the change I had felt I needed for a long time. Revisiting cast objects made me feel like I picked up where I left off a couple of years ago.
I read in a previous article about your preoccupation with death & failure. Are you or your characters you create still in this frame of mind, or have they evolved over the 10 year span?
I was born an only child to elderly parents. My mother was the second youngest of 5 or 6 kids so from a young age I experienced people dying a lot. I was the only altar boy for the Ukrainian service in a church of old people so I worked a lot of funerals. I realized how much it had affected me when I was in my 20's. My parents always reminded me that they would die at some point and that I needed to be ready.
Well then my parents actually died and I guess like when the kids go off to college, and parents don't know what to do with themselves, the parents go off to heaven or wherever, and you walk around not knowing what to do with yourself. The work has evolved accordingly. I don't have the drive to work through that anymore, although there is still a lingering anxiety.
PAUL + WENDY PROJECTS
thanks Paul, Wendy, and Jon!