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Alumni Spotlight: ANDRAE GREEN

Eric Price (2019) asked Andrae Green (2008) some questions to share with you...



What role does experimentation play in your artistic development?

 

Experimentation plays a pivotal role in my artistic development, serving as a guiding force throughout my creative journey. As I delve deeper into my practice, I've come to realize that the tools and techniques I once mastered can sometimes hinder rather than aid my artistic expression. This realization has led me to embrace experimentation as a means to invigorate my work and explore new avenues of creative expression.

 

Drawing inspiration from renowned artists like Vincent Desiderio, who advocates for finding new paths in art, experimentation allows me to push the boundaries of traditional painting norms. It encourages me to step out of my comfort zone, to be unafraid of exploring unfamiliar territories, even if it means venturing into the unknown countless times. As Desiderio once said, an artist must be willing to go through countless trials to retrieve their painting—a sentiment that resonates deeply with me.

 

Over the past two decades, I've seen it as my duty to capture the zeitgeist of our rapidly changing world. With emerging technologies, societal shifts, and existential questions about humanity's place in the universe, the need to respond creatively becomes ever more pressing. Experimentation becomes my vehicle for navigating these shifts, starting with my relationship with my artistic tools.

 

My journey into experimentation began after grad school when I confronted an existential crisis back in Jamaica. The changes I observed in my surroundings compelled me to express the emotions and experiences I was grappling with. Thus, the "METTA" series was born, where I challenged myself to portray black bodies within traditional painting modalities while introducing innovation and experimentation.

 

Experimentation has remained a constant companion throughout my artistic endeavors, from the "METTA" series to my current work in the "Divers" series. It empowers me to explore complex themes and emotions, to represent the intricacies of existence against the backdrop of shifting paradigms. By embracing experimentation, I strive to capture the essence of our tumultuous world and convey it through my art.

 

In my current series, "Divers," I'm exploring the concept of diving from a Jamaican perspective. Experimenting with new materials like aluminum, concrete, cloth, and wood, I aim to expand the viewer's experience beyond the confines of traditional painting. These materials serve to suggest that there's more to see beyond what meets the eye—a sort of invitation to explore another reality within the artwork. For me, painting has evolved into something akin to a hologram, where the artwork extends beyond the boundaries of the canvas. By engaging the viewer's imagination, I hope to evoke thoughts, emotions, and memories that transcend the physicality of the materials. It's a novel approach that allows the painting to become a multidimensional experience, guiding the viewer through both past and future realms. These materials serve as signifiers, anchoring the artwork in tangible reality while simultaneously transporting the viewer into a world of their own creation. It's a fascinating journey where art transcends its traditional confines, opening up new avenues for exploration and interpretation.

 

Ultimately, experimentation is not just about pushing artistic boundaries—it's about embracing the unknown, embracing change, and fostering personal growth. It's a journey of self-discovery, a process that allows me to evolve both as an artist and as an individual. Through experimentation, I continue to challenge myself, to learn, to grow, and to discover new possibilities within the realm of artistic expression.

 


 What painting might people be surprised to find you adore?


One of the surprising things about me is my deep love for abstract art and painting. I believe abstraction expands the possibilities within the realm of realism, offering new avenues for exploration. However, my favorite painters are those who blur the line between abstraction and representation, as they open up new dimensions for what painting can achieve.

               

While I don't have just one painting that has haunted me for years, there are a few that have inspired me along my journey. The first painting that left a profound impact on me was Barrington Watson's "Fishing Village." Seeing it at the National Gallery of Jamaica was a transformative experience. The painting transported me, allowing me to feel the sea breeze and hear the sounds of life captured within its frame.

               

Another significant painting for me is Peter Paul Rubens' "The Fall of the Damned." Discovered during my undergraduate years, its fluidity initially struck me, almost resembling a fiery waterfall. However, as I delved deeper, I was astonished by its creation in 1620, showcasing a timeless brilliance that solidified Rubens as a lifelong inspiration.

               

Reflecting on the past, particularly during the pandemic, has led me to appreciate the artworks that have influenced my creative process. I find solace and inspiration in exploring new art, whether through social media or visiting museums. Among the countless paintings I've encountered, a few have left an indelible mark.

               

One such painting is "The Fall of the Damned" by Rubens. Its abstract qualities mesmerized me, challenging conventional notions of painting's timeline. Rubens' visionary approach, weaving figures like strokes of paint, left me breathless, even years after my first encounter.

               

Additionally, "Quixote" by Vincent Desiderio, which I encountered during my graduate studies, completely immersed me in its world. It humbled me, revealing the boundless potential of painting beyond my imagination.

               

Lastly, "Woman I" by Willem de Kooning continues to linger in my dreams, showcasing the enduring power of art to haunt and inspire. These paintings, straddling the line between abstraction and representation, exemplify the limitless possibilities of artistic expression, surprising those who may not expect my admiration for such works.


 

You’re organizing a dinner party. Which three artists, dead or alive, do you invite?


If I were hosting a dinner party and could invite three artists, dead or alive, my first choice would definitely be Vincent Disederio. Vince is charming, honest, and his insights into the zeitgeist of our times and what constitutes great art are invaluable. While we might have our differences, I trust his perspectives, and his passion for painting is truly infectious.

               

For the second guest, I'd extend an invitation to Adrian Ghenie. Although he may not be known for being a big talker, his art speaks volumes, and I'm sure his presence would add depth to our conversations.

               

Lastly, I'd love to have Neo Rauch join us. While he might not be the most vocal, his profound insights and artistic vision, as glimpsed through documentaries and interviews, would make for an enriching evening. Even if he's a man of few words, I believe his presence would contribute greatly to the atmosphere of the gathering.



What's happening in your studio right now?


Right now in my studio, I'm wrapping up my "Divers Series," although I still have a few more paintings to complete before I consider it finished. I estimate it'll take me another year or so to complete everything. For me, as an artist, the most meaningful focus is usually my current project, which in this case is "The DIVERS series."

               

This series holds significant personal importance to me. It's a tribute to my late father, who passed away almost 20 years ago, as well as a heartfelt message to my son, capturing the bond between father and son, especially in the activity of diving together.

               

My inspiration for these paintings stems from memories of my childhood, particularly the moments spent with my family on the pier in downtown Kingston. I vividly recall watching fearless young boys jumping into the water, appearing weightless in mid-air. These images have stayed with me, evoking feelings of aspiration, freedom, and vulnerability.

               

In terms of artistic inspiration, I draw from works like "The Fall of the Damned" by Peter Paul Rubens, "The Swimming Hole" by Thomas Eakins, and "Fishing Village" by Jamaican master painter Barrington Watson. Through this series, I reflect on cherished memories of my father while also looking ahead to the future with my son, eagerly anticipating a return to a sense of normalcy in the world.

               

Each painting in this series is a journey of remembrance, reinterpretation, and creation. Through the process of painting, I aim to find closure and healing from my father's passing over two decades ago.

               

Lately, the series has evolved into a form of social commentary, reflecting on my formative years growing up in Jamaica during the 1980s. It's a time marked by prosperity and independence followed by significant challenges. I see parallels between those experiences and the current state of affairs globally. Despite the obstacles we face, the series celebrates resilience and the courage to take leaps of faith.

               

As I continue to work on this series, I explore themes of time, memory, and the interconnectedness of generations. Each painting represents a moment in time, symbolizing the relationship between father and son, youth and age, playfulness and practice, dreams and reality.



 

If your artwork could talk, what do you think it would say about you?


If my artwork could speak, it would likely convey my deep curiosity about the world and my genuine concern for humanity's future. The shelves filled with half-read books on philosophy, history, and societal structures would hint at my insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding, as well as my hopeful belief in the potential for positive change and growth.

               

Moreover, my artwork would serve as a love letter to my family, as my current series pays homage to my late father and celebrates the bond between him, my son, and me. Yet, it wouldn't stop there. It would also reflect the unseen works dedicated to my wife, daughters, mother, brother, and the intricacies of my own life experiences.

               

In essence, my artwork would be a rich tapestry, weaving together threads of curiosity, hope, love, and personal reflection. It would paint a picture of a man deeply connected to his roots, his family, and the world around him—a true gumbo of emotions, experiences, and aspirations.

               

 

   

If your artwork had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?


If my artwork had a soundtrack, it would be a vibrant mix reflecting my eclectic musical tastes and the diverse influences that shape my creative process. You'd hear a blend of classical masterpieces like Beethoven and Mozart, alongside the powerful rhythms of reggae icons like Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. Gospel music would also feature prominently, with soul-stirring tracks from artists like Shirley Caesar, The Winans, and The Commissioned.

               

But the soundtrack wouldn't stop there. You'd also hear the pulsating beats of Daft Punk, adding a modern and electronic edge to the mix. And yes, even Kanye West would make an appearance, his music adding a touch of controversy and creativity.

               

Overall, my artwork's soundtrack would be a dynamic symphony of sounds, reflecting the kaleidoscope of emotions, experiences, and influences that inform my creative expression. It would be a testament to the profound impact music has had on my life and my art, creating a sensory experience that transcends the visual and resonates with the soul.



How does your cultural background or personal experiences influence your art?

My artwork is deeply influenced by my cultural background and personal experiences, rooted in my upbringing in Kingston, Jamaica. Growing up in a community marked by both faith and violence, I found refuge in comic books and the church, which became my solace amidst the turmoil.

               

Limited exposure to art during my formative years shifted when I attended art school and encountered Barrington Watson's "The Fishing Village" at the National Gallery of Jamaica—an experience that ignited my passion for painting.

               

The economic downturn in Jamaica during the '80s and '90s left a lasting impact on me, instilling a sense of limitation that shapes my perspective on life and creativity. Today, I draw from this tumultuous period to reimagine a narrative of self-determination and hope, resonating with the challenges I face in the present.

               

Reflecting on Jamaica's troubled history, particularly the clash between political ideologies and external influences, informs my exploration of socio-economic and political themes in my art. I am driven by a sense of responsibility to break free from limited opportunities and fulfill my father's unrealized dreams.

               

The concept of life as a circle underscores my journey, propelling me to confront challenges and elevate my family's circumstances. Despite doubts, I am determined to build a brighter future, drawing upon my talents and education.

               

Through my artwork, I aim to spark introspection and provoke thought on transcending circumstances, embracing the present moment, and contributing to positive change. I aspire to instill hope for a promising future, grounded in collective efforts to better our world.


 

Can you share a challenging moment in your artistic journey and how you overcame it?


A significant moment in my artistic journey came when I was on the verge of fully embracing my identity as an artist. Despite my deep-rooted passion for art from a young age, accepting this truth wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until I turned 38, with the imminent arrival of my son, that I wholeheartedly embraced the call of being an artist. This transition felt like a profound awakening to the spirit of art, as described by Renaissance writers.

               

Art had always been a constant companion in my life, but doubts about its practicality lingered. My father, in particular, was skeptical about its potential to provide a stable income. However, my mother’s unwavering support and quiet encouragement played a significant role in nurturing my artistic inclinations. This push-and-pull between skepticism and support shaped my resolve to explore art despite the uncertainties.

               

The journey wasn’t without its challenges. I faced disappointment after failing a significant art exam in the Caribbean, which led me to briefly set aside art. Yet, art remained a source of solace and freedom amid turmoil. The question of whether art could sustain me financially loomed large, fueling my internal struggle.

               

A turning point came when I received a grant from the Chase Fund to pursue higher education at the New York Academy of Art in the USA. My time in New York was transformative, both mentally and emotionally. It was during this period that I met my wife, further solidifying my commitment to art.

               

However, the decisive moment arrived with the impending arrival of my son. The desire to become a role model for him ignited within me, prompting a conscious decision to embrace the path of an artist. Though this sentiment had always been present, it took the imminent arrival of my son to push me into action.


This journey was marked by self-doubt, familial skepticism, and external challenges. Yet, the impending arrival of my son and the weight of my father’s question from years ago served as pivotal forces that guided me forward. They became catalysts for embracing my artistic identity and embarking on a path fueled by purpose and fulfillment.

               

Today, I stand as a testament to the power of embracing one’s calling and nurturing the artist within. Though the journey was long and occasionally arduous, it ultimately led me to a place of clarity and purpose, where I am driven by a profound desire to create and inspire.



Who are your favorite writers?


Two of my favorite writers are Derek Walcott and Henri Bergson. Currently, I'm engrossed in their works: Walcott's Omeros and Bergson's Matter and Memory.

               

Walcott's Omeros is a captivating epic poem set in St. Lucia, intricately weaving together narratives of indigenous and colonized peoples. It draws parallels with characters from Homer's Iliad while exploring themes of post-colonialism, history, and nature. The poem's depth and complexity, coupled with its non-linear structure, make it a remarkable piece of literature that resonates deeply with me, especially as it brings back memories of living in Jamaica.

               

On the other hand, Bergson's Matter and Memory delves into the relationship between body and spirit, focusing on the nature of memory. He challenges the materialist notion of memory being strictly localized in the brain, proposing instead that memory is spiritual in essence. His distinction between habitual and pure memory, and his exploration of the interplay between spirit and matter, offer thought-provoking insights that intrigue me.

               

While I enjoy reading a variety of genres, it's works like Walcott's Omeros that truly resonate with me, evoking a sense of nostalgia and connection to my roots.

               

Additionally, I'm delving into Lincoln Paine's "The Sea and Civilization." I have a penchant for reading diverse subjects that stimulate my thoughts. While I wouldn't claim to be an intellectual, I have a genuine curiosity about the world around me, which drives me to explore various literary works.


 

Who are your favorite filmmakers?


Some of my favorite filmmakers include Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and Christopher Nolan. I admire these directors for their ability to create expansive and immersive worlds, as well as their mastery in storytelling. David Lynch's approach to exposition and phenomenology fascinates me, particularly his adeptness at playing with time and space from a metaphysical viewpoint, adding a spiritual dimension to his work. Similarly, Christopher Nolan's films explore time and space from a scientific perspective, captivating audiences with his intricate narratives. And of course, Stanley Kubrick stands out as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, known for his unparalleled skill in crafting visually stunning and thought-provoking cinema.



What is your social media account?




 

What is your website?



 

What city and country do you reside?


Springfield Massachusetts, USA


 

What year did you graduate from NYAA?


I graduated from the New York Academy of Art in May 2008, during a challenging time when the market crashed. It was a bleak period, especially in NYC, with few job opportunities available. Despite the tough circumstances, I was fortunate to meet some wonderful people at the Academy who helped me navigate through those difficult times. Eventually, I landed a job at Utrecht Art Supplies, now known as DickBlick. It was during my time there that I met my wife, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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