Lee Piechocki develops a unique body of paintings using shadows and exquisite stencil work. The magical atmosphere in Lee´s work is achieved by combining flatness with stencils and illusionistic depth with shadows. He builds the multi-dimensional space by combining 2D and 3D. The effect is pleasantly confusing and probably quite fun to make. Here is our interview.
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KB: How do you start your day?
My alarm is Everyday by Buddy Holly. I have woken to this song every day forever. I take a cold shower and drink coconut water with cacao, eat a piece of citrus and get dressed to Peggy Sue.
KB: If you were to paint one thing over and over what would it be?
I often paint things over and over. I have done fifty or so paintings of this weird fence I saw when I lived in Kansas City. On my walk to and from work, I would pass this fence, made of cobbled-together mismatched planks full of knots and holes. I would think about it all day and dream about it at night. Who lived there? What was concealed in the yard beyond? It was a symbol of mystery and curiosity. Years after leaving Kansas City, this weird fence would persist in my mind. Now a shadow memory of the original, it became a symbol representing a border, the site of transition between inside and outside. Most recently, in light of COVID-19 and our collective quarantine, the use of masks and gloves, I think of this weird fence in biological terms, as a semipermeable membrane selectively allowing some things to pass freely from one side to the other, while preventing the passage of others.
KB: Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do on the openings?
I am always looking for opportunities to exhibit my work. Openings make me nervous, however. On the day of an opening, I mentally and physically prepare. I go on a long run and meditate.
KB: What is your favourite place to think about a new painting?
Although not my favourite place, the most common place I think about painting is while driving my car. Living in Los Angeles, I spend a lot of time in my car. During long commutes, I think through paintings, talking to myself through every detail and making voice recordings on my phone. I listen to these recordings in my studio.
KB: What is your relation to past painters, and history of art?
There are painters from the past that I think of as part of my dysfunctional extended art family. Distant relatives. Sometimes I talk to them in the studio and ask for advice but mostly I just admire their work, and it only indirectly and passively affects mine. Currently, I have books in my studio on Caspar David Friedrich, Édouard Vuillard, Henri Matisse, Frederic Remington’s Nocturnes, Andy Warhol’s Shadow paintings, Lee Krasner’s Blue and Black painting, Fairfield Porter, Lois Dodd, and Ernst Kirchner.
KB: Which question would you like to ask your painting Idol?
I don’t really have any painting idols. But, one painter of many that I really like, and have been thinking about recently is Tal R. There is a fantastic video of him in his studio on the Louisiana Museum website. He seems like such a genuine person, and I would love to hang out with him for an afternoon. I would ask him, “What are you most afraid of”?
KB: How did you develop this work you’re doing now?
My most recent painting at the time of writing this response is Dream Journal Day 03: The Red Sweatshirt. My life, like everyone else’s, has changed completely in the past month. In quarantine, I find a new interest in tracking the days and documenting this unique time. One way I am doing this is with a dream journal. It is frustrating though because I never remember my dreams, ever! The journal remains blank. However, I make an entry for each day regardless. I do have a red sweatshirt that I wear in the studio during cooler months. It inspired the painting.
KB: How did you meet your favourite collector?
I met my favourite collector in the dream that I can’t remember.
KB: Why do we still paint in 2020?
Painting is one way to grapple with the mess of what it means to be human and what it means to be human is constantly changing. Why wouldn’t we paint in 2020?
KB: In response to Pandemic, quarantine situation:
I have been furloughed from my full-time job as an art handler. The silver lining is that I now have abundant time to work in my studio. The California Governor – Gavin Newsom declared a Stay Home Mandate on Friday, March 20th. I have responded to by making a 9”x12” watercolour painting every day the Governor’s Stay Home Mandate is in effect. Most are of mundane but beautiful sights of neighbourhood walks. A few are of more symbolic events, the arrival of the USNS Naval hospital ship the Mercy in Los Angeles Harbor for instance. In total, these paintings serve as a journal, a record of this very unique time from my perspective.
KB: Where is Painting heading?
How is being human different today than in the past? How can we foresee the human condition changing in the near future? A naïve answer, but the best I can offer is that the human is becoming more inextricably entangled within technology. Smartphones, self-driving cars, CRISPR technology. The blurring of human and technology is nothing new but is advancing exponentially at rates never before experienced. Painters will inevitably respond to this in a myriad of ways, there will be no one direction. Painters will both embrace and resist technology integration.
KB: Can you tell me 3 colleagues whose work you admire?
Aaron Elvis Jupin, Sayre Gomez and Mark Posey.
Piechocki earned his BFA from Ball State University (2005) and MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University (2015), He has taught at the Kansas City Art Institute and worked as painting assistant for artist Mark Grotjahn.
He currently teaches at California State University. He has shown his work in group exhibitions, including shows at The Hole, NY, Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX, Zevitas Marcus, Los Angeles, CA, and the Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, MO. He is currently working on a show for the Museum of Museums in Seattle Washington that has been rescheduled due to COVID-19 to February 2021. Lee works and lives in Los Angeles, CA.