Interview with Wyatt Mills
Wyatt Mills returns to Platinum Cheese a seasoned artist that continues to work with themes that question and explore areas of our psyche that lay dormant under the thick layer of nonsense we are constantly fed. Leaving New York to find his new home at the Los Angles Brewery Art Colony, he sustains a vigorous work ethic that produced works for two solo shows, “Phantasmagoria” at ESSNTL Galleries for there opening exhibition and his second solo show “Archetype to Stereotype” at Prohibition Gallery. Mill’s continues to captivate our imagination by creating a juxtaposition of ancient Greek and Roman gods up against the depth of contemporary media icons like Barbie, JFK, and professional boxers. Showing us how the idealized versions of histories true icons fight for the same status that the stereotypical false idols of today can hardly posses. Using oil paint, spray paint, magazine clipping, and newspaper headlines, he compounds layers of vibrant paint and gestural movement along side classically rendered details, which manifest an awareness of the fidelity the media holds with our society. Still each painting contains an air of tension that fights against our prescribed definitions of truth that invites a curious intermingling of paradox, both as question and answer in pure affinity. Lucky for me, I was able to meet with the artist and get a brief interview that should provide an intriguing insight to Mill’s process and ideas.
All images by Jaklin Romine
What does “being an artist” mean to you? At times I like to make observations, and sometimes I like reflecting whatever I think my reality is. It’s more of a therapeutic process that works best when you’re being honest with yourself. I switch between different styles and types of application because I don’t believe in sticking to one style once you’ve found out what “sells”. The whole thing with artists and branding themselves can be so silly.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do? I think it was a type of urge that grows the more you feed it, and once you’ve continued to feed it for a number of years, it gets hungry more often and becomes more of a necessity than a chore each day. I started painting when I was a kid.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have? I believe in putting energy into the material that is being painted on. When I’m making the stretcher bars (frames the canvas is stretched on ) I’ll connect my fingers and thumbs to the edges so they’re all touching while the glue is settling and hum at it. I like there to be a nice combination of OCD and black magic. I boil this stuff called rabbit skin glue that I have to stir like a witch for 30 minutes before applying it to the canvas and throw some of my DNA in there. Sometimes I will also often scribble short sayings or quotes to get things started. I think to start a painting a lot of the time I have to ruin it to then have something to fix, and things bloom from there.
What’s your favorite painting you’ve created for your recent show “Archetype to Stereotype”? I would tell you but the other ones might hear me.
What are you trying to communicate with your art? And, How do you feel your work has progressed from "Phantasmagoria" to your new work "Archetype to Stereotype" ? I enjoy looking into the past and juxtaposing modern day replacements to show that in reality not much has changed and things are fundamentally the same. With Phantasmagoria, I focused on combining things like WW2 propaganda from vintage magazines and newspapers with things like gossip magazines of today. With Archetype to Stereotype, I combined ancient icons and deities with how we’ve adopted them today (such as Barbie/goddess of beauty and love). I do this in hopes of helping people stray away from “Oh my god people were so dumb back then” but more towards realizing that the same shit is happening now and we merely using alternate strategies and the differences are quite arbitrary. We may not have come as far as we think we have. I find this research as a perfect catalyst for learning about the past while doing what I really, really care about which is exploring my current reality. The past is in direct correlation with the present, which hints at the future. I think by going between destructing pieces and then building something out of the rubble I can find a nice combination of natural expression with some educated thought. It’s a battle between left and right brain.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative? I think creative is another word for being in your zone and just channeling your honest and natural self. When you’re doing what you love, you’ll find a way to do it really well.
Wyatt’s new solo show, “Archetype to Stereotype” is on view at Prohibition Gallery until June 28.