VOICE 1156 Q&A WITH Lowell Ong
Interview conducted by Noah Spahn

Voice 1156: What was your impression of the two opening nights for the current show at voice1156?
LO: The paintings were well recieved, I thought. It felt good being in another city and checking out the vibes of people interested in common things. The first night was super mellow, and the second night was really fun.

Voice1156: What projects have you been up to lately?
LO: I've been painting wallets and purses lately. I'm also taking a step back from the large man-sized paintings I've been doing before, to focus more on my design porfolio and graduating this year. I still work on smaller stuff like drawings and washes though. They take less time.

Voice1156: During our previous discussion you mentioned the East-coast artist Jean-Michel Basquiat as someone significant in your development as an artist- how has he (or his work) influenced you in your art making?
LO: Action. Jazz. His choice of colours, and gesture. His arrangements. His work was an out poured cry, I think. So I really relate to his gesture as a painter, and the approach to simply "attacking the canvas." At the same time though, Basquiat was a drug addict, which is very contrary to how I am. But his approach is still there. When I start to paint, rarely do I have preliminary drawings. I don't really have a preconcieved idea in my head. I just start painting with whatever colour I think I can work with at the time. Then I start building on top of it. I thrive off the action of simply putting paint on a blank empty canvas, or surface. The chaos. It's exciting to figure out where the paintings' going to go. In a way, this is relative to how Basquiat seemed to work. I was also influenced by Julian Schnabel's Basquiat, specifically scene 9 "A New Place to Work." It made me start painting with headphones on, listening to jazz; Miles, Coltrane, Thelonius, Ella Fitzgerald...

Voice1156: The first thing I noticed about your paintings is the bold style, and the ability to interchange between two similar yet markedly different voices. Your paintings shout! Especially the ascension one, you had told me that the painting was all about religion (cardinal vs. cardinal)- could you please elaborate on that idea?
LO: The Cardinals is about a lot of things. Yes, it's about religion; but it's also about the individual person as well, and what each person stands for in his or her own life. The large bird, sitting on top of the yellow cross, stands by himself, facing to the right, or the opposite way from where the picture is framed. He's also looking a way from the city and the road signs, which are only visible when you look closer. From this, I knew the painting had to do with distance, and being a part from, and of, everything. I guess this also relates to how I felt when I was a kid. I was very isolated from my family; emotionally, mentally, and religiously; though they were always around.

At the time I was working on this painting, the Catholic church's scandal of molesting little boys had hit the world. I felt horrified when I heard about it, but at the same time, I also saw the dramatic irony about it. I already pasted up the picture of the "flock of cardinals" and so the bird took an entirely different meaning. I made the bird look really sinister, like he had something to hide, or that he was ashamed of. Then I blew out his chest, to rape him of his innocence, with those two strong solid lines. The lines represent something like, judgement, or the idea of being judged. Something that is like a stronghold of thought, that doesn't let you move. That kills you upon it's calling. So the bird could also be taken for as being a child, like a little chickaboo. Essentially, what the bird doesn't know of had killed him, but yet he still stands unfliched looking towards the right.

Voice1156: In your description of AFTER:1 and 2, you had mentioned the theme of ideas spawning other ideas: How is this process evidenced in your art making; particularly in this painting?
LO: Ideas make lives move. But at the same time, no one knows where ideas, or knowledge come from. Some say it's innovation, some say it's from this black hole of the unknown, some say it's from God. I think that, a lot of ideas are related, and certain things like; knowledge, progress, boredom, innovation, imagination, and whatever words you would want to toss in there, relate somehow to the idea of...ideas. But I don't know. I couldn't tell you about this one. I just know I like to work on my paintings cause there's really nothing else to do. Boredom, I guess?

Voice1156: Where will we be seeing you in the near future? (Any future art shows/events?)
LO: Hopefully you'll see some of my stuff in San Francisco. My friends have been pushing my art up there; paintings, drawings, hand painted wallets and purses filled with poetry notes & sketches. I get really reluctant to show my stuff though, because I feel like I've just started to paint. But when I think about it, I've really been painting since I was young, but I haven't really taken it seriously until a few years ago. I guess, its just my insecurities running amuck. Blah! But you'll find me mostly checking out the local scene around the Santa Ana Artists' Village, and around Los Angeles. I'll also gonna be having some public and private showings later this year.

Voice1156: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, and we look forward to seeing more of your art in the future…
LO: Thank you. I appreciate everything the gallery has done for the show. Also, Thank You to Gershon Mosley, Rob Whyt, Alex Spitz, Kevin Salvador, Mike McFadden, Carlos K, the Razor Sharp crew, the Party Monsters crew, Jaybird, and everyone else I might have forgot.