Los Angeles-based artist and actor Alexander Yulish is one of the artists who has donated a piece to the benefit auction for Hip Hop School of Arts. Paddle8 talked to Yulish about his piece Dancers in Greenwich Village, childhood memories from New York and internal conversations manifesting themselves on the canvas.
Paddle8: How are you involved with Hip Hop School of Arts? What is it about the organization that you find interesting and/or important?
Alexander Yulish: It is paramount that kids have a place where they can come together and express themselves with a common passion. The Hip Hop School of Arts let these children express it through all the mediums that make up what hip hop is. A good friend, Kerri Randles, introduced me to this organization. I have donated work to the auction this year, and will so every year for this beautiful inspiring cause.
P8: Your drawing Dancers in Greenwich Village is one of the pieces in the auction. You’ve said that each piece you make tells a little story. Can you tell us more about the story behind this specific piece?
AY: Dancers in Greenwich Village tells a story of a memory that has stayed with me since I was a little kid living in the Greenwich village with my father. I grew up next to Washington Square Park back when it was still raw gritty but also so beautiful. I remember on weekends I would go into the park and watch the break-dancers who would set up under the arch in the middle of summer. Rap would be blasting and these dancers would be moving with such force and delicacy, like a roller coaster with ballet shoes on. I, and the other kids who were watching, would get up and dance and try to copy them. It was chaos. It was a time as a kid I will always remember. I try to find that freedom in my work. I would love to dance again if I saw dancers like that. I haven’t let go like that in a while.
P8: When you are using your art as a means to explore your human psyche, are you ever afraid of what you might discover?
AY: When I explore my human psyche in my art I tend to think of it simply as a conversation. When I am painting this internal conversation wants to occur outside on the canvas, because that’s were it wants to live. That’s why I paint. Once this conversation is finished, so is the painting. I am never afraid of what I will discover, but sometimes the conversation will get stuck when I’m transferring it to the canvas. That’s where I get scared – when I get stuck. I have to work through that, or it can get destructive.
P8: Are there particular artistic movements or artists that you find particularly influential?
AY: Abstract expressionism. The most outrageous conversations that I have seen taking place on canvas have come from this movement.
P8: What upcoming projects or exhibitions do you have that you are especially looking forward to?
AY: I have a show at the OCHI Gallery in Sun Valley, Idaho on August 1st. I am still working on the pieces. There’s lots of work to be done, but very exciting.
P8: Have you seen any exhibitions recently that you found particularly successful or moving?
AY: I just saw a photography exhibit by Rinko Kawauchi at the Rose gallery. It was photographs of the fires that were raging out of control all over California last year. The photos were some of the most balanced, beautiful work I have seen in a while. In one photograph, it looked as though the fire could spread down the walls and onto the floor. It felt like the gallery could go up in flames in an instant. That is when I know I love a piece of art. When there is complete unpredictability.