Arjoon KC is an artist based out of Dallas, Texas. Specializing in colorful, expressive paintings of cities all over the world, Arjoon is fascinated by all that a city can hold. A narrative of past, present and future, stories of all the people living their lives within the city limits; color and light, nostalgia and dreams.
Arjoon also happens to be one of our featured artists at NAMTA; he will be painting live at our booth the weekend of February 24th! Essential to his practice are Art Alternatives canvas, RGM knives, homemade tools and the kinetic energy of a city. To better understand his process, what inspires him and why his supplies are so essential, we reached out for an interview.
Why are cities your focal point?
“I want to explore the city, the history behind it. How the city began, what kind of people live there, then and now. I try to capture past, present and future in my cityscapes. I put in cars from 1920 to 2016, buildings from every age. I want it to be timeless. When I travel to a city I’m going to paint, I visit the city council meeting. I want to know their future plan, to know what buildings are coming, and I incorporate them into my paintings.”
What brought you to art, originally?
“I’ve been painting since I was four. I established my first studio in 2010. But as life is complex at its best, there were so many paths. I was doing a lot of different things as an entrepreneur to finance my art career; in 2014 I finished my schooling, I put things in galleries, I visited museums seeking art opportunities built my own small Art Museum in Irving, TX. Afactory Studio Museum of Arts which provides art opportunities and experiences. Art gives me power to envision beautiful, real city full of humanity. It is not easy to be an artist… There are a million reasons not to paint in a day, there’s only one reason to, and that’s tough.”
So, what’s that one reason to wake up and paint?
“It’s hard to create art if you think it pays to paint. People lose the process when they overthink like this. When I paint, I become a baby again, who doesn’t know anything. I am reborn. I am naive, with so much to learn, to explore, and I see things anew.”
What does it mean to be both an entrepreneur and an artist, in tandem?
“It’s hard to manage time, but that’s not an excuse. You need to go for it. When you paint, you can’t be thinking how much I will sell this for? You need to separate it. You need to have two personalities, almost… save the artist’s side while also being an entrepreneur. It’s your entrepreneur side that allows you to survive. No one will say yes, even your mom might not say yes…but for 1,000 noes, there may be one yes.”
What inspires you?
“Before I do paintings, I spend a lot of time with myself. I travel. When I go to the cities, when I make paintings, the real life story is not exactly what I put in the painting. When we wake up in the morning, see the sunlight, we plan our day, and in the evening, we see the moonlight… when the artist paints a painting, they are giving light to the canvas (like giving light to an everyday moment.)”
As I was reading through your artist’s statement, I came across this sentence. “I love to fight with artificial light to bring life in paintings.” What do you mean?
“When I am talking about light I literally bring a source of light to my painting. But it’s also a philosophy, to bring the light. I try to define the moment either with the sunlight, or the light coming out from a headlight, or some other source. The canvas is like a theater, there is a curtain behind it, there is the production…the painter is using a camera obscura to bring an image to the world.”
What is this “block” style you have created?
“Blocks” are form of painting on sculpted canvases collaborating with the various style of painting and mixed media combining 2D, 3D, and 4D form of art. The blocks of canvases are inspired by how every day and every moment goes by. When we bring it all together, adding all the small memories, all the people in the environment, it’s like people in a global city: it’s like a poem for me.”
What materials do you use?
“I use acrylic paint: Art Alternatives, Utrecht Series 1 – Series 4 and Golden. I use different products to get a variety of texture and viscosity. They blend and dry in different ways.
As for tools, I’ve recently started using brushes, but usually I invent tools. A spatula, a knife, my fingers. Knives are for layering; they give more depth and texture. When you do impasto, it is an unpredictable method, but with a good knife you don’t have to struggle so much. The RGM palette knife is the best knife, such a good hold in your hand, so steady, and the stainless is flexible, it mixes color really well.
For canvas, I’ve been using Art Alternatives because of the 13oz. canvas; it has a very good application of gesso already. As an artist when you are painting you save time. The canvases allow me to explore more content in my paintings because they hold my paint so nicely. When I would stretch my paintings, the paint used to crack. But these canvases can hold really thick layers. I’ve even tried using real sand, it literally holds six pounds of sand and has been hanging in a museum for six months. There was one painting I did that had a lot of key chains, metal door knobs…it held up. It’s very rare to have that in retail canvas.”
You’re on a desert island… which art supplies do you bring?
“Blue, red, yellow and white paint, that would give me all the colors. The ruler, the canvas, I need a brush… and anything I might find on the desert island that would help me apply paint. With those supplies, I can paint whatever city we might build there, in that desert!”
We are excited to see you do a live painting at NAMTA! What is live painting like for you?
“I react to the people, the energy, the mood of that moment. The color I use comes spontaneously. I am exploring a lot of cityscapes with my work; when we talk about a city, we talk about a million people. A million stories. As an artist, that is the best part; creating a story from nothing.”
Be sure to stop by the MacPherson’s Booth (#405) at NAMTA! Meet Arjoon in person and discover how he brings light (and life) to his paintings.