SLOW YOUTH: Anthony Cudahy interviewed by Nicole Reber after the publishing of their collaborative zine, Our Time on the Moon.
NR:You often work from found images. Do you ever find yourself imagining the narratives/conversations for what was happening in the picture that you’re working from?
AC:Occasionally, but I feel like those are always the exception paintings. Those have strong narratives to my mind or a strong mystery that I can’t ignore. More often I’m less interested in constructing a story than in exploring what’s lost from an image in its picture history, or how its content is transformed by context. A history of representations, versions, reenactments, degradations. That’s just where I’m at right now though. Might be time for a change.
Now in the comic work I make, I’m very interested in using the images I appropriate to interact and converse with each other. I try to lay the pages out as if the individual elements are notes. Images from the same source being like striking the same note, while interacting with usually two to three other notes on each page. Hopefully on multiple readings, the viewer can see several threads in each comic and then how they interact. And hopefully then ask themselves: why are these interacting?
NR:Most of the music you listen to is really driven by thick verses, words on words style of writing like Bob Dylan, Joanna Newsom, Sufjan Stevens etc. In the same way, you can look at your paintings and you abstract the titles by using just letters for it. Do you think doing this encourages the viewer to look at the piece multiple times to try and figure out the meanings of the titles, in the same way that songwriters demand multiple listens?
AC:I actually started to use that formula when I needed to title work for a show and had no titles in mind. Titles are either there with me from the beginning or won’t come at all. The formula titles are meant to be nonsense that is indecipherable, but helpful for organizing. It’s usually very surface details like “Girl with Red Hair”, which would have a final title of “GwRH.” I forget what the acronyms stand for often though. When I give a proper title, I think more of it as a piece of writing which can help give clues to the viewer.
NR:What is more important to you in a piece of art: content or color?
AC:The surface and the content are always competing for me. I’m not sure they can ever be fully resolved, which might be what keeps me painting.
NR:Looking at your work from when you first moved to New York, what’s would you say is the most significant change you’ve made?
AC:You slowly start dropping acts you are playing. Slowly slowly I’ve started to become okay with who I am. This is an overarching idea, but it applies to my art as well. Trying to unlearn hating my mark. Trying to stop making work for anyone. Reaching a pact with myself.
NR:What is the most damaging habit that a working artist can have?