JL: You've recently started a series of mostly black paintings. What was the impetus to start removing/reducing color?
PB: My work is mostly a practice of cropping, blocking out and painting over. So I thought the black could highlight the crop it self more. This black is high gloss so it becomes reflective at the same time it remains flat.
JL: To make a black painting carries some art historical baggage. Were you looking to any of the black painting of the past?
PB: Yes, Kandinsky's, Juryfreie Murals
JL: There is a sort of tasteless refinement in the way that you have been using popsicle sticks, making awkward cuts out of the canvas, adding small, sculptural elements etc. Are you deliberately challenging taste levels here?
PB: The last thing I want to do is to challenge taste. I'm really just interested in what tastes people have and why. Mostly because mine are always changing and I think that shows in the work. I want include a wide scope of style and decoration. Both are often considered taboo in art, but its the opposite for me. Style and taste are exciting ideas to work with and can make a painting really relate to a viewer. I want to work to greet the viewer almost like a visual handshake.
JL: We have talked about the kinds of multiple modes that you work in. Is it possible to describe how/why these begin or end? If you're working on a popsicle stick painting, can it easily turn around and become one of the more slick abstractions? Is there freedom between these modes? Or do you even think about these different avenues?
PB: I never know what they will look like when I start them. They make there own history with each layer. I try and make something everyday until I have a collection of images and objects. I then use those things to make an actualized work. Sometimes that process is fast but is more often slow. I develop a real love hate thing with my work. I really do live with it. I sleep steps away from where I work. So I am endlessly adding things or taking them away. I like to be able to work on them exactly when I think of idea. Because of that there is the freedom that you mention, but there is also a good amount of anxiety at the same time.
Hearts and Bones, 2008, Acrylic, oil, paper, foam, pigment powder and Popsicle sticks on canvas, 40" x 30"
JL: Apart from materials, how has it been different working in your apt as opposed to having your own studio?
PB: At first I really hated it. I lost a great space I had for over two years. This set up seems to be working well for now. I really like to work in the middle of the night.
JL: Is abstract painting important?
PB: I don't know about important, but for me it allows the best chance to make something totally new.
JL: How important is it for you to be aware of what others are doing? Is there anyone that is particularly significant for you?
PB: I'm constantly looking at stuff. The High Times Hard Times show at the National Academy last year really was important for me. I had always thought about that time in painting as an "unsuccessful" period. I couldn't have been more wrong. Artists like Al Loving, Alan Shields, Mary Heilman, Jack Whitten and Joe Overstreet where taking painting out of its own context. Really doing something new. There are a lot of great artists to look at now as well. It’s good to live in New York and experience great work on a regular basis.
JL: What does your family say about your paintings?
PB: They think they're weird, but I think they like them anyway.
JL: Big paintings vs. small paintings. What's all the fuss?
PB: No fuss. As always both are out there and the attention bounces back and forth. For me I like to make both.
JL: What's next?
PB: Sherri Caudell Brennan and I are in the beginning stages of a collaborative "comic book". Its our first project together since "Stop Press" a zine we made in 2006. I also want to continue the black painting series, at least until the end of the summer. I want to make some really large ones.