1) Can you tell us something about you? How started your working, what brought you to paint?
My parents took me to some of the finest museums in Europe and I always liked the paintings the most. I've been drawing since I was a small child and when I went to Art School I began to fill in my black and white drawings with color. Once I started using color it was only natural that I would begin to model and use the paint for more than just filling in flat areas. I liked paint because I could get very messy with it, cover my clothes with splatters and drips and my parents didn't care. If I came in covered with mud though I¹d be in trouble!
2) Your paintings are full of cats and cars: how come this? And why are missing human beings?
Cats are independent, the quality
I admire most in people. I grew up watching cartoons on TV and like the cat
characters the best. They seemed the closest to humans of all the animals. I
use cars because while I was growing up in the 1960s there was a big hotrod
culture going on. Not just drag racers but also bizarre designs and colors (like
Ed Roth). I think that the human figure has been used in the visual arts for
so long (ever since cave paintings) that its time to "abstract" things
by removing it from paintings. It¹s more of a challenge to get my ideas
about the human condition across using anthropomorphic cartoon animals. By using
animals I can avoid the interpretations one gets by using the human figure.
A fight between a cat and a dog is just that: an animal fight. A painting showing
a fight between a black man and a white man becomes a painting about racism.
3) Your paintings are also very famous for their "erotic feelings" Why this presence so massive of eroticism? You are also known like a erotic painter, better said, sometime seems only like an erotic painter, but your art is not just made of this theme: do you think that is restrictive? And what do you think about this definition?
The "human condition¹ is about many things, sex is just one of them. I try to show my characters engaged in all aspects of being alive and I¹ll depict sex just as much as eating or taking drugs. Some people know me as an erotic painter, others call me a hotrod artist. Sex is such a difficult subject for some people that if there¹s even the slightest trace of it in a painting they consider that to be the dominant subject. It¹s their problem, not mine.
4) Which is the universe of Ausgang,
I mean in your room, how many
separate realities exist together?
Since making a painting is about creating an illusion (as Magritte showed in his painting "The Treachery Of Images"), a painter needs as much freedom from reality as possible. Therefore I pledge allegiance to the cartoon universe in which anything is possible: cartoon characters can walk on air or fall hundreds of feet and not get a scratch. The universe of Ausgang is all about ignoring reality and promoting illusion. A vast number of separate realities exist in me: Italian Opera and Rap, Photorealist painting and abstract expressionism. I need to have access to as many realities as possible so that I can make more choices when I paint.
5) In your Manifesto you say that you don't believe in "tortured artist", is just a trip of Catholic guilt bring down. Can you explain us this point of view? (personally I do agree with what you said, the problem is that just few say it)
The "Pleasure Principle" says that if one doesn't take pleasure in doing something, one is unlikely to do it. If making art tortures an artist then why would they continue to do so? Ever since Van Gogh artists have subscribed to the role of an artist as a madman and I consider this counter productive. Artists are not insane, they may have a different definition of sanity than most people but they aren't lunatics. As far as the "Catholic guilt bring down" goes, its all about the guilt one that the church drops on people who want to live their lives without the guidelines of religion. That is, if I¹m doing something outside of a religious observance that makes me feel good, it must be a sin. The church has traditionally withheld approval of the arts since artists stopped painting icons and scenes from the bible
6) In your Manifesto and in your Bio you refer to JFK. When USA lost their innocence with that death, have found a true innocence in your paintings?
The USA has never been innocent, this country began with a bloody revolution and the violence has never stopped. The JFK assassination made people lose their naïveté and finally see this country for what it is: a violent imperialist arrogant culture that won¹t hesitate to kill its own citizens and leaders to ensure high profits. My paintings have nothing to do with innocence, I¹m a conspirator to alter contemporary culture.
7) Your paintings are something special no just for the subjects and the situations, but for the colors too. Can you tell where they come from, and if when you were a little scientist and color mixer helped to find such amazing colors?
My color choices start with the basic vibrant colors of the cartoon world. I make my colors brighter and more alarming so that my images will stand out in this world where we are bombarded with visual information all day, everyday. Part of my personality is that I don¹t like to use consumer goods unless I can "customize" them somehow, so I mix up my own colors. That way the only way people can see my colors is in my paintings. If you want that nice purple/magenta/blue, you have to go to an Ausgang painting.
8) Zero One gallery was your first showroom, with rock stars and drug dealers, "normal museum" don't accept this category of people? Or a drug dealer is a better critic of the official one? (you sold your first painting to a drug dealer, right?)
An artist will starve to death on good reviews, the highest praise still doesn't put food on the table. The highest compliment I can get is to sell a painting. Art collectors are critics with money: if they like it, they buy it. I don't care who buys my work, I'm not interested on "collector pedigree". Museums have to be interested in that celebrity, its better for them to have a painting on loan from Leonardo De Caprio then someone in the Medellin drug cartel.
9) You, with great sincerity, talk about the relation of money, art, rich people, and owning a truck. Can you talk about this?
There are times that artists are the court jesters of the modern world. We are expected to play the role of madman and liven up boring parties. Our paintings are used by ugly people to entice good looking girls back to their houses. An expensive painting proves that the owner has money to spare, as much as a racehorse or Ferrari. And in the midst of all these riches, the artist still has to have a truck to carry around supplies and take care of other people shitwork.
10) Where you want to arrive with your paintings? What you want to give to the people? Which is the ethics behind? (if it does exist)
The ultimate Ausgang painting will combine all my knowledge of color and narrative theory. I want to make a painting that can be understood by people of any culture, language and race on Earth; that transcends language and can even be understood by an Alien from outer space. The Buddha says "Take nothing that is not offered" and my ethic is to get people to see my work because they want to, not because they are told to by some media machine. I believe in karma and if people get joy from looking at my paintings, I get happiness from their pleasure.
11) The combination between new technology and art.
I use the computer and the paintbrush. I make my drawings by hand, scan them into a computer and arrange all the graphic equations with the help of Adobe Photoshop. There are filters in that program that allow one to abstract and morph an image in ways that are impossible humans to do. Within the computer one finds "the ghost in the machine" and the chaos factor. Painting is about taking advantage of the unexpected and some computer processes accelerate that. I print out my final "drawing" and then paint on canvas from that. I seldom try out color combinations first, those schemes exist only in my mind.
12) In a way your art is a homage to Zap Comix, to the art of Robert Williams and Crumb. Those comics gave and give a good vibe to the culture in USA and more was an ironic slap to the official culture and normal value, making free the mind of a lot of people, with a laugh. Do you think that you art is a slap to the official culture, always with a laugh?
Yes, my paintings are a slap in the face of official culture but after that slap I run like hell! I was raised on Zap Comix and always loved and appreciated the humor. I found it refreshing that I could open a comic book and relate to the characters inside. I mean, I have more to do with Mr. Natural than Superman. Since my paintings often depict scandal and counter cultural behavior I guess my work is a comment on some aspects of "official culture" but I don¹t consider my paintings to be propaganda for "our side".
13) In an interview you said how much is important to read books. Which author had more influence on you and who are your favorite writers? And from music and painting? Between your links I found Col. Jirayr Hamparzoom Zorthian. Is he an influence for you?
There are books that I read as a child that I still think about whereas there are stories I read last week I've already forgotten. Children's stories are often the most surreal literature around and I like to read new books for kids. My favorite authors right now are David Foster Wallace and Don Delillo. I utilize music as a soundtrack to painting: ambient or dub for difficult passages, rock or rap for big easy spots! Zorthian is an inspiring character to me because he is an old man who just keeps on making art and will most likely die with an unfinished painting on his easel.
14) You wanted to be a journalist. What do you think about media? Have you seen what happened in Genova for the G8, what do you think about. And about all the story of Global System?
It is very difficult to write a news story without mixing in some of one¹s own prejudice. I prefer strict reporting of facts which allows me to reach my own conclusion about the rightness or wrongness of whatever is going down. I like independent media such as online news websites and NPR (National Public Radio). As far as G8 went, I¹m sorry for the kid that died but I've been in a few riots myself and I know that bad things can happen, especially if one is protesting against the side with weapons. If people aren't prepared to die for a cause then how serious are they about that cause? Power struggles are always going to result in death. And about "Global System": Its weird that Bob Marley sang about "One World" and people agreed but unifying the world under one economic system is such a terrible idea to the same people. I don¹t see how any major change in world economics is going to take place without some fuckup. The Euro is a great idea but its going to take some time to work out the practical problems. When East and West Germany united a lot of people talked about the difficulties and how bad it was. Its taken some time but its working out okay. I think activists on both the conservative and liberal agendas need to understand that it takes time to change things and with some issues it may take a long time.
15) Can you tell me the story of - Hangover 999 - Acrylic on found canvas - The city is Napoli. How come? ( I do live close to Napoli and it was a surprise that paint)
That painting is done on a "found canvas", some one else¹s painting I bought in a junk store. I bought it because I liked the scene of a balcony overlooking the bay. It was a perfect spot to paint a hungover drunk in a classy location after too much good liquor. I had no idea it was Napoli until a few years ago when another Italian told me.
16) Next projects and will a show of your paintings in Italy?
Hopefully a show at Mondo Bizzarro