AM DeBrincat 'Plum Sleep' from the Hello Sunshine collection

AM DeBrincat and her ‘Hello Sunshine” exhibition

After touching down on Danish soil, I spoke with the NY based artist about her newest collection of work she’ll be exhibiting in Malmø.

Published: August 23, 2017Words: AM DeBrincat & J.Scott StrattonArtist Link:

Ifirst (internet) met the New York based artist AM DeBrincat last year. I interviewed her for a piece on her work ‘Hybrid Identities’–which you can read here–and since then, we have been collaborating and corresponding on various projects via email. It was all cordial and creative business between a couple like minded thinkers, but nothing more.

But one of the the things I love about Americans, is that when you take us out of our country (a place that generally makes us a little grumpy) and put us somewhere slightly better (say Copenhagen), we gain this ability to talk to anyone about anything as if you’ve had a lifelong friendship.

This is exactly what happened when I met AM and her husband for the first time on the streets of Copenhagen–as they were taking in the hours before her first international exhibition in Lohme Gallery in Malmø. There was no awkwardness silences, no small talk, it was straight in there with conversations about art, traveling, politics, Krampus and Austrian petrified bull penis (google it)….basically the types of conversations that you would have when reconnecting with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.

Now, I must note, that I do not attribute this moment specifically to all of us being American’s abroad, but more to the fact that AM is also a wonderfully cheery person whose sunny disposition matches the bright vivid dispositions of her artwork. She has an infectious good nature, that it would difficult to be sour around.

Her work has a darker side in its conceptual background–as it explores our global society’s obsession with self-image and gradual entropy of our attention spans–but the execution of her work is an explosion of color.

AM has created an entirely new series of work for her upcoming solo exhibition entitled ‘Hello Sunshine’, which will be on exhibit from August 25 – September 23, 2017. And since I had the opportunity to meet with the New York native after a year of email correspondence, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the new collection and the evolution of her career in general.

AM DeBrincat 'Triple Flavor' from the Hello Sunshine collection
AM DeBrincat 'Marmalade' detail from the Hello Sunshine collection

So tell me, is this new collection of work ‘Hello Sunshine’ an extension of your painting technique and concept, your Hybrid Identities, or did you explore other processes, concepts or techniques as well?

The paintings I’m showing in Hello Sunshine are all mixed media paintings that explore the possibilities of figurative painting in the digital age. Each painting combines digital photography, a printmaking technique called Xerox transfer printing, and oil and acrylic painting. I want each painting to be a visual puzzle of digital and analog media – the coldness of digital photography meets the warmth and sensuality of painting. So they are each a hybrid of digital and analog media…

We didn’t get into this last time we spoke, but tell me about the process in which you create your work—from digital to analog?

I like to follow the same basic process to build each painting. Each painting usually has three mediums in the finished painting: oil paint, acrylic paint, and Xerox transfer printing. But my entire process from start to finish involves more mediums than that.

Each piece starts on the computer – I have a huge archive of digital images, many of them my own photos and many that I’ve collected from online sources like social media and image searches. I start by playing in Photoshop, combining up to 40 images into a single digital collage which is the basic “sketch” for the painting. This digital collage becomes my road map for the painting.

AM DeBrincat 'Plum Sleep' from the Hello Sunshine collection
AM DeBrincat 'Saturday Afternoon' from the Hello Sunshine collection

I print out the digital collage in sections, and then use an old-school, archival, DIY printmaking technique called Xerox transfer printing to transfer pieces of the digital image onto the surface of the canvas. At this point, the image on my canvas is in black and white. Then I use acrylic paint to add color to sections of the image – a technique similar to how people used to hand-tint old photos a century ago.

The last step is painting the face. I leave the faces blank canvas until the very end, and then I paint the faces with oil paint.

So back to the upcoming exhibition. What is the concept of ‘Hello Sunshine’ about?

The paintings in this show are inspired by the delicious feeling of sitting in the sun enjoying a relaxing afternoon. I wanted to explore a joyful, relaxing theme and offer all of us a moment of escape from the social, political, and environmental problems that so many of us are thinking about constantly right now. So this show is offering a moment of escape, an opportunity to feel the sun on our faces and enjoy a moment of tranquility. When I was creating these works, I kept thinking back to the simple delights of childhood, and as a kid how easy it was to feel completely blissful enjoying an ice cream in the sun or seeing a beautiful flower or leaf. In a way, ‘Hello Sunshine’ is a bit wistful for simple, innocent joys – everything becomes more complicated as we grow up and those simple, joyful moments become more elusive.

Did you create this collection of work specifically for this exhibition, or had you begun the process prior?

All the work in Hello Sunshine was created specifically for this exhibition at Lohme Art Gallery.

AM DeBrincat 'Pageant' detail from the Hello Sunshine collection
AM DeBrincat 'Magical Thinking' from the Hello Sunshine collection

This is your first solo exhibition in Europe, tell me what that has been like?

It’s been great! The gallery and the people are wonderful, and it’s such a fantastic gallery, and I’m honored they’ve invited me for a solo show.

From here, what does the future hold for you in regards to your work?

I want to continue down this path I’m on – exploring the place where our online and offline lives meet and merge. I want to continue playing with fitting digital and analog media into a single painting. That visual and conceptual puzzle of digital + analog continues to feel so relevant to our lives today, and I want to continue exploring it.

Each piece of work feels like a puzzle when I’m making it – there are digital (photography) and analog (painting) elements, and I need to fit them all together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into one image. But it’s not a seamless image – you can clearly see the seams and where it doesn’t all quite fit together exactly right.

I think this idea of a multitude of images in one image is a little bit of a metaphor for how we absorb information in the digital age. We are so inundated with so much data and so many images constantly on in our screen culture and on our phones, but the images are of everything all at once (news, social media, advertising, cat videos, anything and everything you can think of all at the same time) and the images don’t fit neatly together. We piece them together in our minds like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to try and make sense of the world and this huge amount of data we are constantly viewing, but it’s never a seamless composition. In a way, I’m mimicking this process and doing this in a tiny way in a microcosm in each painting.