Painter Atom St. George began his career in the aerospace field, but his young life took a few transformative turns, and for the past decade his increasingly abstract work reflects an entirely new kind of space. In his early twenties, St. George experienced loss, grief, and a real reckoning with his own mortality; his early work reflected a pensive obsession with the invisible fractal intricacies of his damaged neurons. For the past several years however, St. George’s vision and technique have expanded into a richly detailed, gestural, expressive language of dreamlike symbolism — especially fantastical plants and animals — along with pattern, motion and and activated palette. This breakthrough of inspiration finds him in a transcendent mood in which the work is no longer focused only on processing and ameliorating the trauma of his illness, but on exploring and celebrating the entirety of his consciousness.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ATOM ST. GEORGE: When I was in high school I used to draw silly doodles to make friends laugh but I didn’t take art seriously until after a friend’s suicide on my 21st birthday, when I started making art as more of a coping mechanism. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 24, I quit my job and started making art every day. I’ve always felt compelled and drawn to the art world.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work imparts a sense of bold surrealism with vivid tonality, dynamic compositions, and raw emotion. I essentially turn paint splatters and smears into creatures and otherworldly psychedelic realms.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
If I wasn’t an artist I might still be working as an inspector in the aerospace field which is where I worked prior to getting diagnosed with MS.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
After getting diagnosed, I took some basic fundamental art classes at Otis College Of Art and Design. The initial plan was to create a cartoon but I fell in love with the intro to painting class I was taking at the time and the rest is history.
How has living with MS impacted your art?
I paint with hands that are numb and tingly which requires me to brace one with the other when I am painting any sort of detail. I imagine my art will become more abstract with time; as my disease progresses.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
L.A. is a hot spot for new and upcoming artists and truly has incredible opportunities to showcase and collaborate with other talented artists. There is always some sort of show or art walk happening every week.
When was your first show?
My first show was with Raw Artists in 2011 in L.A.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I am the featured artist in October at Hive Gallery and I will have 20 feet of wall space displaying new and old work. I will be there, wheelchair and all. The opening is October 1st. My last show was at Gramercy Gallery in Riverside.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Of any artist dead or alive, I would want to show with Salvador Dalí. His paintings have been a huge source of inspiration for me since I started this journey. Plus, he’s just a wild and crazy character!
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I mostly listen to progressive house music when I paint but I will also rotate between hardcore, 90’s alternative, oldies and classical.
Web and social, please!
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