Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Influenced heavily by childhood fairy tales, psychedelia, and the occult, inspired by Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney, donuts, and astrophysics, Axelrod is known for his unique use of the spectacle and aesthetic choices. A practitioner of vast disciplines including painting, installation, performance, sculpture and video art, Axelrod’s work has been displayed in galleries, museums, and public spaces in cities across the country.
This exhibition is all about the color red... Tell me about the idea behind your piece. What was the process to transform that idea into reality, and how is "red" significant?
The piece in the Incarnadine show at Mash Gallery is from a series called Mermaid Vomit. They are actual photos of vomit from mermaids. The idea came from: when I would paint something, the piece seemed to be alive while still wet, like it was breathing, once it dried it was if as though it was lifeless. I wanted to capture a painting where it was always in its most wet and living state.
Where does your interest in making art come from... Was there an aha moment? Tell me about your career path. How did it all start?
Since I can remember I have always been an artist; it was the only thing that I enjoyed doing as a child, so I continued to do it as an adult and studied at CalArts, where I was able to refine my skills. Making art was and is the only activity I do that seems to calm me.
Let’s talk about your subject matter and process. Does your body of work involve detailed planning and execution, or do spontaneity and experimentation play a role?
Recently I've been into making work around the ideas of contemporary particle physics and psychedelia. The execution of the work mostly is one big weird experiment—I try a bunch of materials and techniques, mix and match. A lot of the materials I use get trashed in the process of figuring out what works. My major installations however require a lot of planning. In most cases the planning and ideation takes much longer than the actual execution of the work.
Who are your favorite LA artists and influences right now?
I'm a big fan of David Lynch—I've always loved how he uses so many different mediums throughout his practice: film, painting, writing, drawing, sculpture, music. It all plays into his overall vision. Daniel Arsham is also a favorite of mine—he's not LA based but I enjoy his practice, perhaps because it’s always pretty much a white color palette, the exact opposite of the way I work; it’s refreshing to see something extremely clean. I'm a huge music fan, and currently Flying Lotus's LA based music label Brainfeeder has some the most interesting musicians out right now... I feel if my art was turned into music, it would be the Brainfeeder sound.
What is your favorite art accident?
When I work on paintings in my studio, there is always paint that gets everywhere on the floor and walls, creating splashes and puddles and cut marks and foot prints. Almost every time someone visits my studio they always say the floors look so cool, and jokingly say if I move I should excavate my floor and take it with me because it looks so interesting. This unintentional "work" led to the series "Artist Studio Floors". Perhaps one of my favorite series to date.
Photo of Aaron Axelrod: Courtesy of Dustin Downing
August 25 - September 29, 2018