Tag Archives: Cody Ledvina

CODY LEDVINA [on] BILL WILLIS

Cody Ledvina: I want to look at your Instagram presence first. The content you display is through a program that allows you to superimpose imagery on top of each other. You have a history of combining images through different formats–Instagram seems to be a natural fit for that branch of your practice.

Bill Willis: There are several bodies of work represented by the web collages, each commenting on some role I play out during the day. They all have evolved as a way for me to communicate in a daily or topical way, usually through absurdity and over-simplification about my thoughts and mood. I used to have a couple of selfies for faces, but have settled in to the one with the horse laugh or mule-eating-briars smile.

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Courtesy of Bill Willis.

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Courtesy of Bill Willis.

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Courtesy of Bill Willis.

CL: Got any of those early collages we can see?

BW: Yep, these collages are from 2009. I’ve made collages, either by hand, chemical photography, xerography or digital means for years.  I had journals of collages, notes, lists and drawings with me all the time, along with retail catalogs, pornography and Japanese haircut magazines as materials, working wherever I was with scissors and glue stick. Now that there are so many online sources for imagery, decent phone cameras, multiple editing apps and cloud storage, I can travel light and make things on the fly, saving the studio for painting.

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Courtesy of Bill Willis.

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Courtesy of Bill Willis.

CL: Your paintings focus on objects in such a casual way, in that your framing seems to degrade the aspects that people normally aesthetically develop within a calculated portrait of food. You meticulously craft the paintings while actively downplaying the significance of the object. Artists or Instagramers who post images of food in their pictures consider it’s presence. What do you have to say in response to the statements I have just made?

BW: The subject seems dead or free at the moment, ready to be recharged. It’s not like I’m a very conceptual guy. The food images are ubiquitous: it’s like genre painting. I’m always shopping lifestyle catalogues, Instagram and feeds looking for subjects to transform and inhabit. I’m drawn to all the window dressing, theatricality and seduction of product photography. Sometimes it has to do with nostalgia, but I don’t want the products–most I can’t afford or never existed anyway. I collect the images instead, choosing, editing and distorting compositions of meat and other food like stand-ins for bodies. It is an excuse for me to paint and view, which are both very sensual activities. I do the whole thing for kicks.

CL: I asked 4chan about your Meat and Vessel paintings. Would you like to see what they said?

BW: Yes, Outsourcing the feedback for the paintings is interesting and hilarious considering many of the images where sourced from the web.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 24 x 36 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 20 x 30 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Untitled. oil on linen, 18 x 24 in { 2014} Bill Willis.

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Self Portrait Playing Guitar. oil on linen, 24 x 36 in {2014} Bill Willis.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Bill Willis: is an Artist and educator living in Houston, Texas.

Cody Ledvina: Ledvina received his Masters of Fine Art from the University of Houston in 2009. He has shown his paintings in Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Baltimore, and New York. He currently lives and works in London, UK.

STERLING ALLEN [on] CODY LEDVINA

Sterling Allen: So I guess I’ll ask you some questions and let you answer.  I won’t really be asking these long beautifully worded things.  I’m just interested in some of the moments I see reoccurring in your work and I guess also the general unease I feel when I look at most of it.  For me, it (your work in general) has this really repulsive sort of confrontational aspect of bad taste and ugliness that actually is able to win me over almost every time. This feeling that I can’t even really describe runs throughout the work and includes the surfaces, the marks, the materials and the installation of the works.

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Studio Shot {Early 2014} Cody Ledvina.

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Drawings. shitty ink pens, 11″ x 14” {2014} Cody Ledvina.

There’s an excess happening in terms of mark making and touch.  It’s also present in the variety of materials you use within a piece (save the newer mostly pen and ink drawings). The DVDs and cut digital prints (at least they appear digital) on the surfaces of the paintings for example are totally puzzling.  There’s a fragility and disregard for the sort of archival obsession that some artists let run their practices in those choices.

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Pregnant Dog Painting (detail). paper and DVD cover, 8ft long {2013} Cody Ledvina.

I am totally grossed out by the super sculptural parts of some of your paintings, especially those that contain a figure, but again feel like they are so memorable and captivating.  Can you talk a little about texture, mark making, and materials?

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Pregnant Woman Painting. wood, cloth, latex paint, 24″ x 84” {2013} Cody Ledvina.

Cody Ledvina: I’m honored in regards to what you are seeing in the work. My experience with “realness” not just in object making but in life always have elements of disgust. When I see complete control in anything non-practical I might admire it for a second, but quickly loose interest. The issue of basic formal issues in the textures, mark making, and materials comes from the same place. If I feel content with the initial decision to use a particular strategy, I immediately abandon it for something that doesn’t quite sit right. It takes time for it to settle in and in some cases I’ll look back and think the decision I made in a particular object is too quiet. If I’m feeling awkward about it, I know others will too as I’m incredibly self conscious.

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Bird Painting. paper, acrylic, DVD covers, 45″ x 60” {2013} Cody Ledvina.

SA: I’d also like to better understand your relationship to Alex Grey.  Beyond recognizing his “style” for lack of a better word in some of your work, I can’t say I know much about him. He seems like someone that most people write off as a serious artist (and maybe you too) but I could almost guess that you might sincerely be really into him.  I’m not sure what to think. Maybe it also has to do with your relationship to folk or outsider art?

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Broken Arm Babe. graphite on paper, 38″ x 50” {2010} Cody Ledvina.

CL: I’m more interested in the world that Alex Grey inhabits. The one of ultimate answers. I’m really into the way he uses the entire picture plane to illustrate how important EVERYTHING is. It may feel at times I’m making fun of it, but I like it in a theatrical way. His work and other psychedelic/universal truth imagery are just fun to look at in the end.

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Drawing Series Drawing. pen on paper, 11″ x 14” {2014} Cody Ledvina.

SA: I’ve focused mostly so far on paintings and drawings, but I know that you make video and performance as well.  Would you care to discuss how and if those ways of working cross over and vice versa to your paintings/drawings/sculpture?

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Dr. Kavorkian Painting. acrylic, clay, mate tea, 20″ x 26” {2014} Cody Ledvina.

CL: I learned five functions in Final Cut Pro and decided to use those to work out ideas that wouldn’t work in any other way. It started with just turning on the camera and realizing what most people feel, as soon as you press record you forget who you are. This doesn’t happen in my studio when making a drawing. So I went through some time figuring out how to make anything interesting through video. Hell, I’m not quite sure I have yet. The format is too big for me to understand completely. I don’t really watch art films or any films for that matter. I guess I could just summarize this whole paragraph and interview with ‘I have no clue what I’m doing, I just hope I can look at it in 5 years and not be embarrassed’

SA: Finally, I can’t really feel satisfied until I ask you about how spirituality plays a role in what you do.  Even formally, there’s something about the symmetrical and radial compositional devices in your work that feels sacred or holy.  Maybe it’s just a sense of energy?

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Crawdad Ledvina (Installation Shot, Okay Mountain, Austin) {2010} Cody Ledvina.

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Drawing Series Drawing. ink on paper, 11″ x 14” {2014} Cody Ledvina.

CL: As aloof as I may have come across about the underlying and surface meaning of what I do, there is a real struggle with my connection to living. I’m pretty sure this is the feeling for anyone who hasn’t accepted a universal truth about life. But what the recent work especially is attempting to capture is just how present and lost I am. That complete confusion always packs energy. It also leads me to almost every decision I make as an artist.

SA: Lastly, I wanted to see if you had anything to say about being an artist in Houston and how that has shaped your practice.  You’ve been super active in Houston for as long as I’ve known you as an artist and as an organizer.  I know you just recently re-located to London (UK) and I wonder how it’s been so far?

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Me as a Woman Giving Birth Under and Awning. paper, acrylic, oil pastel on plastic liner {2013} Cody Ledvina.

CL: I’ve been in London for nearly three weeks so I can’t say too much about the community here, except everyone so far has been very kind and accommodating. There is definitely a lot of activity here, I just hope it’ll be the right kind. The more I think about Houston the more I realize just how powerful a place it is. Artists thrive in the cradle of blue/brown collar communities. Houston has a shit ton of those, and this leads to tremendous amount of opportunities. I was able to work with so many people, and it took so little money to make such an immediate impact. The kinds of work that is happening there is equally as interesting as anything I’ve seen on the INTERNET. I love that city. Yao Ming.

SA: Thanks Cody!

CL: Thank you man!

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Sterling Allen: Allen received his BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. In 2006, together with eight other Austin artists he founded and currently co-directs Okay Mountain. As a solo artist and in collaboration with Okay Mountain, he has exhibited and created numerous projects at venues throughout the United States and received several residencies including the Artpace International Artist-In-Residence Program in San Antonio, Texas. He recently completed an MFA in Sculpture at the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts at Bard College.

Cody Ledvina: Ledvina received his Masters of Fine Art from the University of Houston in 2009. He has shown his paintings in Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Baltimore, and New York. He currently lives and works in London, UK.