The artist in her studio (Photo: Jessica Malafouris)
Alice Lancaster is a NYC-based painter and illustrator whose works we are super pumped to have up at TenOverSix Dallas April 8 – May 31 in Masking Tape Flesh, curated by Yaoska Davila. Lancaster took a few minutes to sit down with us and answer a few questions.
Some of Lancaster’s influences (L to R): Eddie Martinez; Jerry Seinfeld
TenOverSix: First, biographical things first – How did you decide to start painting professionally? Which artists (visual, other) are your biggest influences?
Alice Lancaster: I decided to paint professionally when I moved to New York a few years ago. I realized that I was never going to have a “normal” 9-5 job and I never wanted one. So I made it my goal to be my own boss.
My biggest influences are Niki de Saint Phalle, Eddie Martinez, Picasso, Fiona Apple, Diane Arbus and Jerry Seinfeld.
Frida Jacket (2015); Tilda Swinton portrait from A History of Sluts, made in collaboration with Chelsea Dom
TOS: In addition to painting on canvas and paper, you’ve done a number of works on clothing, objects, and are in the process of publishing a book with Chelsea Dom, A History of Sluts (which sounds so rad and we can’t wait to get our hands on). How does working with different media/contexts change your practice (if at all)? Why so many wearable items in particular?
AL: Thank you! I can’t wait to see it too. Working in different media completely changes my practice as well as the end result. Drawing someone’s portrait is so different from painting a figure, for me. I’ve done a lot of hand-painted pieces just for variety’s sake. People don’t always look twice at a painting but if it’s on a jacket it suddenly becomes something so much more.
Blue Nips No. 2 (2015), crayon on paper; Granny Panties (2015), masking tape and acrylic paint on paper
TOS: While you certainly work a lot with the more traditional oil on canvas, you also use combinations like masking tape and acrylic on newsprint and crayon on paper. What does using more rudimentary tools do to the work that you produce with them? Aesthetically they look very similar, but is there a change at all in way of thinking about a piece/process/logic behind making it/etc?
AL: Working with masking tape is different for me because it has limitations. It sort of simplifies things. It’s also very cathartic to work with.
Freak (2012); Untitled Woman No. 2 (2014); Sylvia Browne (2013)
TOS: How do you decide upon your subjects? Most of them seem to be sourced from either yourself or people you know, but then there are a few more well-known folks thrown in there – Tiny Tim, Patricia Filed, etc. How do the celebrities connect to the personal? How influential is pop culture to your work?
AL: With portraits I basically draw people I know and love or creatives whose work I appreciate. I don’t really see them as ‘celebrity portraits’ but more as portraits of really talented individuals.
Pop culture isn’t super influential to my work with the exception of ‘Seinfeld’.
Watching ‘Parenthood’ on my Period (2015); Male Bonding (2013)
TOS: If your work itself isn’t so blatantly hilarious, the titles you give many of your pieces (Granny Panties; Watching ‘Parenthood’ on my Period [the only way to watch Parenthood, really]) are. They seem to come from the Seinfeld, Girls, etc tradition – work/stories about “nothing,” bringing a distinct post-90s vibe to cubist-y figurative paintings and drawings. How important is humor in your work? Are you actively using it to lend levity to the images you produce or do the titles mostly just describe what’s on the canvas?
AL: Humor is incredibly important and it’s something I’ve only recently been able to incorporate into my work. I had been titling pieces things like ‘Untitled No 2′ which was partly out of laziness but I realized that the title was an opportunity to be creative and funny and let my personality come through. Sometimes the title is directly related and other times it’s connected in a different way. For example, the other day I was painting a figure while listening to an interview with Fiona Apple and she described the experience of recording ‘Hot Knife’ with her sister as a “soul picnic” which I loved so I ended up calling that painting ‘Soul Picnic’.
Naked Yoga No. 3 (2015)
TOS: You’ve spoken a lot about your discomfort with the focus of viewers’ attention being that you’re a woman making images based on the bodies of other women. It seems that this comes from some of your work, in combination with you being the artist, existing somewhere in between the actively intimate work of Tracey Emin – easily interpreted because ladies have feelings and look at all her feelings – and any number of male painters nonchalantly painting boobs and no one caring because a dude did it. Does this generalized anxiety around your work motivate you to further push these normative boundaries? Is there a way you’d like (generalized or specific) people to react to your work?
It bothers me but I don’t want to let that alter my work or force me to change anything. I always do what comes naturally. It’s not even something I can control really. There really isn’t any certain way I’d like people to react to my work. I mean, if a painting made someone laugh that would be great, but I’m totally open to any reaction as long as there is one. Any reaction is a good reaction.
Some more recent inspiration (L to R): Alexandra Marzella; an image from Tumblr
TOS: What are you working on now?
AL: Right now I’m sort of in between things. I just finished a series of abstract figurative paintings of woman doing yoga. It took me a while but I recently realized that my work comes in waves and that I can’t be lazy when a good wave comes along. I have to ‘ride it’ so to speak and make as many pieces as I can before it leaves. So right now I’m waiting for the next wave (that sounds so cheesy but it’s the perfect metaphor. Please don’t make fun of me).
Be sure to catch Lancaster’s amazing work up at TenOverSix Dallas April 8 – May 31!