A few years back someone suggested Estelle and I go meet Curtis Kulig. We ended up in his studio and quickly realized how multi-faceted he was as an artist. But what really struck us was his down-to-earth ways. He was incredibly accommodating--almost gentlemanly--and it was refreshing. I've since gotten to know Curtis better and occasionally pop up to his studio (which is dangerously close to our shop) when I need a break. I always enjoy his quick wit and positive outlook. Currently, our shop's Patch Wall displays a diptych from Kulig's Bubble Wrap series. We thought it was time to hear from him about these pieces, as well as a few of the other projects he's working on.
CURTIS: What I’m doing with the Bubble Wrap pieces is focusing on color scheme, balance and process in abstract compositions. I’ve been working on these for close to 4 years. Before Bubble Wraps took fruition, I started doing Number Paintings, where I would just paint my age. I started at 32, and those are all abstracts as well. They're actually experiments, figuring out different mediums. Often they turn out perfect. Things turn out perfect when you let them.
NOAH: When you say Number Paintings what do you mean? Do you mean abstractions with the number being the starting point?
CURTIS: The number is more like the end of the entire process, but I don't necessarily start or end with the number. I set out to experiment with charcoals, acrylic, oil, lead, ink, and use numbers in Desmond font, which I employ as a form of documentation of finishing a piece. Not that signing and dating it on the back is not enough documentation, but it would be the documentation as the document. That really started me off using other aspects of my work to document moments. My Accuracy Paintings are exactly that, which are my target series. I don’t know if you've seen those.
Is that actual buckshot shooting into them or how is that marked?
I took archery lessons and learned the skill, I was shooting them in the beginning with a bow and arrow.
I would do both. Did you know archery is the safest sport in the world? The least amount of injuries.
But it hurts your forearm.
If your technique is off.
I heard that if you just go straight back you’re going to hit your forearm. But if you go at it on an angle and twist your wrist…
It stays out of the way. But you have your elbow up in the correct position
No that’s what I’m saying.
It's horrible rope burn or a snake bite or whatever.
It fucking hurts.
So I was bringing paintings to the archery range and shooting them. The paintings are a documentation of my emotional state for that month. I am in the process of doing one painting a month for 15 years which is 180 targets total, so when I’m 50 years old they’ll be finished. I’m on 26 right now it’s been two years and two months. But the idea of them is based on the punctures. The idea in life is that you’re aiming for a bull's-eye, perfection. For me, instances in my life that are going on in my head that I consider pleasant are bull's-eyes, and anything that’s a little off-kilter are the outskirts of the piece. So then when the month is over you look at the punctures as an analyzation of my emotional state. The more bullseyes, the “better” the month. I took away the archery aspect of it because it started to become a technique based on my skill set rather than placing the puncture where it belongs according to my recordings of everyday activity. The idea of actually shooting it sounds good, but that’s not what they’re about. What they’re about is my documenting my emotional state over a 15-year period.
Do the targets change size?
I have a smaller studio at the moment so I’m doing smaller targets.
So its almost dictated by space and that could somehow play into the mark making?
It plays into the marking regarding the size of the puncture yes.
So your puncture varies on the size too? That’s cool. Are you using the same colors, all those blues?
The first year I did the authentic colors of an archery target, which goes black, blue, red, yellow. And for the 2nd year I reversed. For 2017 I’m using all blue hues.
And that’s the last major project of yours?
Yes, the last consistent project of mine.
I was having this conversation with Tony (Arcabascio) the other day. He has such a wise outlook on brands and his idea of people doing something different. He's smart and has seen it all. I mentioned NOAH brings something refreshing for me personally, based on it having some sort of ethos or doing something that fucking matters other than just releasing clothing while all these brainwashed kids with identity crises sleep on the sidewalk to get an overpriced t-shirt. I think the conversation that's going on at the store involves more than just, "I got fucked up last night". I think that gets old, and I think that's what NOAH is not prescribing to the youth. It's more thought-out and it's carefully executed. It's an actual conversation about worldly issues and educating the youth on different things that are important: global warming, the ocean, education, politics. I would rather have conversations like that than stand in a line taking selfies to post on Instagram.
View more of Curtis Kulig's work on his website.