Chad Attie is a mixed media painter and sculptor who uses thickly collaged and constructed elements to create pictures and objects with a mysterious, excavated dimensionality. His works first collect and assemble found materials that speak directly to memory, literature, and history from the personal to the societal, before these dense compilations are deconstructed again, generating visual experiences that evoke both a shared past and the poetic, emotionally complex actions of the artist in his studio. His large-scale paintings reflect this architectural armature and contain gestural multitudes. Attie shows in Los Angeles with The Lodge, where an online Artsy exhibition is up now, and an IRL show is planned for 2020.
L.A. WEEKLY: What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
CHAD ATTIE: The new work, “U T O P I A,” can be seen as a visual companion to Shelly’s “Ozymandias.” It grapples with humanity’s culpability regarding climate change and addresses questions that we are all reckoning with at the moment. What is the “ideal” way of life? What cost are you willing to pay for it? What are the consequences?
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
An architect or more likely one of those guys walking around the streets with a little ice cream cart on wheels occasionally ringing that wonderful tarnished brass bell.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
From the remnants of Hollywood mythology half-buried in the canyons, to the 1970s homes that seem moments away from falling into the sea, the city has always been a limitless cornucopia of inspiration. When I need to feel something new, when I need a fix, I grab my keys, and just get in my car and drive. Every time, I stumble upon a hidden treasure I’ve never seen before — a broken down alley, a burnt out van, an abandoned doll house on a corner.
I find this sense of surprise and adventure incredibly inspiring and it always gives me new ideas. Throughout all of this, L.A.’s nature is breathtaking and powerful, and it seems to force its way through the cement of every street, which I also find so seductive.
When was your first show?
My first solo show was at Newspace Gallery on Melrose in 1996, it was a very exciting time, and the gallery scene in L.A. was so different than it is now.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
I currently have an exhibit with The Lodge which is exclusively online on Artsy through August 27th. It is a body of work I made in 2011 entitled Girl with the Golden Eyes. My next solo show “U T O P I A” will open at The Lodge in October of 2020.
What artist would I like to show with?
Good question! There are so many visual artists I would love to show with past and present (e.g., Louise Bourgeois, Chaim Soutine), but I am going to go in another direction. I would love to show with performing artist Sufjan Stevens. For about six years now I have been making short films that work as companion pieces to my larger work. I find Sufjan’s work incredibly emotional and personal, and if we were to have a chance to collaborate on videos using his original music it would make for a very intriguing show.
Do you listen to music when you work?
I think my last answer answers this! Yes, constantly! I am inspired by so much music, and it is essential to my practice, I can’t work without it. When I was a kid and a new Prince album would come out that was the most exciting thing for me because it meant months of being inspired by new sounds and feelings which I knew would translate into new work.
The artists that never seem to leave my playlist are, Christine and the Queens, Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens of course, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Frank Ocean, The 2 Bobs, Lucy Rose, Tina Dico, Jonsi, 2Pac, Van Morison, Arcade Fire, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Lauryn Hill, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, and Bjork.
Website and social please!