Los Angeles based artist Gregory Siff is returning home to New York City for his latest solo exhibition When You Were Little We Used To Color opening June 7th. To celebrate we’ve teamed up with Siff to help unveil two exciting new releases carefully undertaken by the artist for his latest solo exhibition. On top of his now sold out, Super Cola Love Song — which features Siff’s iconic pop rocks imagery on bright technicolor candy wrapper — Siff has also painstakingly created a titular screen printed book, with a whopping 1056 hand-pulled images each book also features one uniquely painted “self portrait” by Gregory Siff. In so many words (and images) the book is an autobiography of Siff’s life, featuring his stories, personal ephemera, memories and more. Read on as Gregory gives us the lowdown on his upcoming exhibition, screen printed book, latest hand-painted editions and more . . .
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about your new book created as part of your exhibition When You Were Little You Used To Color…
Gregory Siff: For this special edition run I decided to not only hand screen print the cover of this coloring book, but the entire 28 pages including the inside and back cover. This mission was seen through with 1056 pulls all done by myself, and made possible by the team of screen print maestros of CG Creative, Chadd Gorney and Peter Detels. Each book is 11 x 8.375 inch and hard cover bound.
The coloring book is an autobiography of my private moments that invite the reader to color in the memories and bring them back to life. It is full of imagery that is very important to me, and puts my story into a timeline of different places that I’ve been, and things that I love.
Each book comes with a set of 3 Gregory crayons (primary blue, red and yellow), a hand painted acrylic & spray-paint Pop Rock foil candy package, and one custom “self portrait” individually hand-painted by me. Each book will be unique and one of a kind in celebration of my solo show in New York City, ‘When You Were Little You Used to Color.’
1x: Tell us a little bit about what we can expect from this upcoming exhibition and bring us up to speed on what you’ve been up to since our last release for your last solo show…
Siff: Portrait of an American Ice Cream Man, that was in 2016! Time moves and moves, and things get better, and the paint gets stronger the more you work and create. I feel like you trade time for work, and it makes the hands know what to do easier when the hours stack up.
My manager Lisa Falcone owner of 4AM Gallery and I are so excited to invite everyone to WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE YOU USED TO COLOR. A lot of exciting things started to happen when I decided to make art every day. Places I’ve never been were visited, the most interesting friends began to arrive, I could make time stand still or go backwards and as long as I felt something real, my heart could tell the story. I was in my tree house studio on the phone with my mom and I asked her, “Where did all this come from?” and she replied in her New York accent born in Brooklyn, “When you were little you used to color.”
Since my last show I have really been more dedicated to the studio and for the new show many hours have been given to discovery. Since 2016 a lot of wild things have happened. I spoke at University of Southern California Fashion + Social Media Panel and painted an installation at the USC Annenberg Center. I exhibited at the Soho House in NYC and Soho Beach House in Miami. The Dream, Hollywood showcased my work in 4AM Gallery and commissioned me to create a large scale painting for their nightclub Avenue. The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology exhibited the leather jacket I painted for high fashion clothing line Pyer Moss in New York City. I donated some works to help raise money for Art of Elysium, Venice Family Clinic, Smile + Wonder and LIFT. And one of the most exciting moments was when luxury fashion house Saint Laurent brought my work to life on their F/W 2018 Ready to Wear Line. I also returned to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club to paint murals in the bathrooms again like I did for the MoMA PS1 show Rockaway! a few years before. Feels good to be home painting again.
1x: What are some of the ways you’ve been trying to push yourself with your latest work?
Siff: To go bigger. To use more brushstrokes and use my fingers to move to the paint, so everything feels naturally occurring. Not to force growth but actually grow. It’s also cool to carry a pocket watch when the last hours of painting are close before the show must leave the studio. Like there is a grip on time and you can freeze it.
1x: What are some of the strides you feel you’ve made with your recent work?
Siff: Learning to be ok with looking at a good painting you’ve made and then go over it to make it better. It’s scary to destroy something that in the morning you feel is perfect and by night you know it needs to go deeper. This instinct is getting better and the fear of putting yourself in a place you might not be able to come out that easy is something I am getting better at. The painting, Bob Dylan’s Candy Store (pictured below) is an example of not caring about what you will lose. Then you get a real conversation with the artist in the painting.
1xRUN: In addition to the exhibition and book, you’ve also got your latest print editions, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this imagery?Gregory Siff: It’s a package of candy with a story of symbols and faces that really happened and read like sheet music to a song I lived. It’s supposed to make you feel young and excited and inspired and consistently looking at the world with wonder. I thought it would be cool to paint my own package of candy and what that would look like. I remember going to my neighborhood Candy Store Allen’s on 129th street in Rockaway, where if you had a dollar you could get just about anything from Bazooka Gum, M & M’s and Pop Rocks! The packaging always excited me, the stars and colors. Making art that tastes. And when you would share that candy with your friend is a kind of magic in itself. So this process was very fun for me to take things and experiences and package them into one piece. Making prints of this favorite piece from my new show is a way to share more candy with friends.
1x: When was this originally drawn and created, and what materials were used ?
Siff: I painted the original piece last month using acrylic, ink, and graphite on candy packaging in preparation for my solo exhibition When You Were Little You Used to Color which will be on view starting June 7th in New York City.
1x: Tell us how the idea and execution came about for this image?
Siff: In my studio I was working on large scale works for the show and I had packs of Pop Rocks on the floor that started to collect paint on them from overspray and the drips of the paint off the canvases being worked on. I was painting barefoot and these packs would stick to my feet from the sugar and the wet paint. I loved the way they looked in an abstract lived on type of way. I thought it would be cool to add some more flavor to it and hit it with some imagery. I feel like it’s a new candy I would love to buy if I saw it at the Bodega.
1x: How long did this image take to create from start to finish?
Siff: I painted for close to 4 months every day and night to get the work where it’s at now. There are 10 hand-embellished pieces in this collection, each one different. They resemble the style of work I do called the Elements Series that I began in 2012 I painted these with Krink on paper.
1x: What is unique about this piece compared with your other work?
Siff: This is the first painting I have done on an actual candy package.
1x: Why should people buy this one of these prints?
Siff: People should buy this print because it makes you feel like a kid and makes you feel like if you can make your own candy out of colors and moments in your mind then you can do anything. You can be a super hero. This print is a reminder of that.
1x: Any new music, movies or other artists that have been inspiring you as of late?
Siff: I visited the Picasso Museum in Antibes in the South of France. Being in a castle by the seaside and seeing the works hanging in the room they were created really was something to be in awe of. Childish Gambino, The Misfits, Tash Sultana and Chet Baker have been making the studio a happy place.
1x: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
Siff: My girlfriend and I went to our friends Don Miggs and Lisa DeBartolo’s memorial day party and their son’s Milo and Jasper, 9 and 7 year old artists, set up a little gallery that had the whole party becoming collectors! We scored and got a rainbow water color abstract on canvas they painted for 20 bucks. It’s calming and so good.
1x: Any big shows or events coming up that you’d like to share?
Siff: Yes! Actually I am exhibiting in 287 Gallery, in NYC where Swoon, another Dean Collection artist, shared her amazing Heliotrope Foundation show with Swizz Beatz. Then of course my manager Lisa Falcone owner of 4AM Gallery and I are so excited to invite everyone to WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE YOU USED TO COLOR opening June 7th.
For further inquiries regarding the exhibition please contact Lisa Falcone, 4AM Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by 2wenty – follow him on Instagram @2wenty.