Press Magazine, January 2011
Interview with Anthony Ausgang
By: Daniel Rolnik
Q: In life do you prefer to own cats or dogs?
I prefer to own cats since they use a litter box, unlike dogs that need to go out on “walks”, a process that should be more accurately termed “shits”… Nevertheless, I appreciate dogs and enjoy their idiotic enthusiasms.
Q: Being that you are a master of optical illusions what do you think of ours? What should we try for our next optical illusion? [check out our illusion (masthead) here: pressmagazine.tumblr.com]
That must be one hell of an illusion ‘cause I can’t see it! Is it an avatar that looks like a monkey… or a hot chick? I told you, I can’t see it! Moving optical illusions are the next frontier…
Q: Who is your favorite dub artist to listen to while you paint?
I mostly listen to different online stations so the mixes are always different. These days I have been listening to Sir Coxson Sound, Twilight Circus, BLOOD, Alien Dread, Yabby You, Sound Ministry, Mentor Kolectiv, Dublab, just a whole mess of weird stuff. There are a few strange stations that play “Ethnodub”, a hybrid dub from India and other off beat places featuring Jahtari Riddum Force, ah Seal, Zomby, Jah Batta & Bullwackies All Stars, Ustad Sultan Khan & Sunidhi Ch, Kid Gusto, Sanchez Dub and Phat Boy Singh.
Q: You use photoshop to manipulate your sketches before you paint them. Once you finish your process in photoshop how do you transfer that image onto your canvass? Are you working with Photoshop CS 5?
First off I just wanna say that I seldom try out color combinations on the computer, I prefer to work with “real” colors in “real” light. Anyway, I print out the line drawing then project it onto the canvas with a large opaque projector. I use Photoshop CS5 or CS2 depending on what computer I’m using.
Q: How do you get your paints to be so vibrantly colored? What company do you buy acrylic paints from the most?
I once worked as a color mixer and production painter for a company that made hand painted fabric for furniture. I had unlimited amounts of paint to use so I would often mix together all kinds of weird color combinations to see what would happen. I learned a lot about color and ways to make them appear really bright. One trick that still use is to take the complimentary color of something in the foreground and mix it into the background. The human eye is much more color sensitive than people realize…
I use Nova Color acrylic paints; they are sold out of their factory here in Los Angeles. I like to use the “liquid” colors and not paint out of a tube. It’s much easier to blend paint if it’s already nice and smooth
Q: On your paintings you can never see the brushstrokes, how do you go about getting that super smooth look?
When I am modeling an object I generally mix up at least three values of its color so I have the light, medium and dark tones ready to go. I make sure that they are all the same consistency and then strain them through a window screen to get out any lumps. I lay the colors down by each other in the correct order and then blend them together using either a fan brush or a splayed, fucked up round; I never use flats.
Q: Generally artists have prints and originals available for sale on their website but you have a commemorative medal, please explain?
I feel that making a painting is like a mounting a military campaign and there are strategies that must be worked out in advance. Continuing with this analogy, I believe that the viewers of the painting also deserve an award for allowing my aesthetic to subvert their own. Plus, I collect WW2 German Iron Crosses and I just wanted to design my own medal; anyway, I like to have offbeat items for sale. Toys are all right but I think picture disk records are better because they actually have a use.
Q: What kept you motivated to get your pieces into galleries in the early years when it was a struggle to get galleries to consider you?
In the early 80s I was one of the few artists doing paintings that eschewed the human figure in favor of cartoon characters and I really felt I was doing something that would measurably improve the world if it were broadcast to a larger audience. Also, I was too young and dumb and full of cum to realize that the gallery directors thought that my work was garbage. One guy told me that he would give me a show in exchange for a blowjob; I never showed there…
Q: Do you actually do a vast amount of psychedelic drugs or is that all mythology?
I did “vast” quantities of psychedelics when I was young and still living in Texas; in all those miles and miles of Texas it was easy to find some beautiful spot where no one would disrupt the trip. The last time I took mushrooms was a year ago in Joshua Tree but I still like to regularly experience DMT and occasionally Ecstasy.
Q: Obviously art school is a debt-creating-machine that you luckily dropped out of and survived, but how did you teach yourself to paint to begin with? Is being a great painter something that you can learn?
I learned a lot of painting techniques when I worked as a fabric painter for an interior design company. Although the results were mostly for decorative effects, I eventually figured out ways to apply the methods to a representational end. Being a painter requires conceptual as well as technical expertise and I’m not sure that one can develop those disciplines in a vacuum. If one wants to foreswear the rigors of an academic environment the best replacement for that is having a group of friends that are willing to share information and mess around together. There are things that have to be learned and cannot appear from instinct alone.
Q: What book are you currently reading?
Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges, The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell and Underworld by Don Delillo
Q: Will you ever introduce a dog into one of your pieces to chase the cat away?
I did a painting of a friend’s dog for a “pet art” show. She brought the pooch to the opening reception and it took a crap on the floor right in front of my painting. The critic has spoken…