Over the past 25 years, Tim Biskup’s far-ranging practice has included painting and mixed media work as well as drawing, sculpture, printmaking, animation, music, publications, and all manner of studio and social experiments giving form to his unique hybrid style of gestures, geometry, line, and color. There’s a new painting show on the horizon for Fall, but for the past several years, his attention has been devotedly split between running an indie space/shop/studio/neighborhood creative hub called Face Guts, and an obsessive relationship with graphite drawing. Though largely know for a prismatic palette and fragmented, planar figurative surrealism, in the graphite works Biskup pursues more sinuous, soothing shapes that converge figure and abstraction in cheeky, poetic pieces—a new suite of which opens at Face Guts this weekend.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
TIM BISKUP: Drawing pictures of Kiss in fifth grade. Someone asked me if they could buy a drawing I was working on. I understood that what I was doing had value beyond my own enjoyment.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
There is no short answer. It usually turns into a long conversation about how art operates in our lives. How I’ve found my way to making art as a form of self-soothing and psycho-spiritual analysis. It’s “about” that but I think the more interesting question for me is what people get from it. What they see in it. What it makes them feel.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Maybe a therapist? I can’t imagine sitting through all of the school time to get there, though. So, life coach?
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to Otis in the 80s. Dropped out after two years. I was too lazy to do the work and kept seeing and hearing how different the art that I wanted to make was from what was considered “important” art. It convinced me that I couldn’t be a visual artist. I left to play music and make records.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I came back to L.A. to work in animation. That job was the training that I needed to learn my craft. I started making personal work and people noticed. L.A. seems to have a more flexible idea about art. Lots of space to experiment and find a path that works.
When was your first show?
1998 at La Luz de Jesus. It was called Alphabeast.
When is your most recent/next show?
For the last six years I’ve been taking a break from working with galleries. I opened my own project space called Face Guts in Glassell Park. It’s given me time to develop my work without so much pressure. I’ve been heavily focused on graphite drawing. My next show there opens this week (Friday, July 21) and is called Cyclops. It’s mostly graphite drawings and historical materials. I’m also working on my first painting show with another gallery in six years. That will be at SADE in November.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Roberto Matta. No question. His work is wizardry that has had me entranced since I saw one of his huge “inscape” paintings at 17.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Yes, all of my records are covered in graphite! I tend toward modern classical / experimental music. Lately I’ve been leaning into electronic dance music. It takes a lot of digging to find what I like but when I find it it’s transcendent. There’s a duo called Jaures in Berlin that I’ve been loving. Also Kuniyuki. I could go on forever. I’m obsessive about music. I also watch NFL football while I work. The way it’s spaced out is perfect.
Website and social media handles, please!
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