We caught up with the artist ahead of his next endeavor, a showing with London gallery Evelyn Yard
at Art Los Angeles Contemporary
(ALAC), to learn about his process, life in the studio, and what we can expect from him next.
Casey Lesser: Can you tell us about the origins of the works on view at ALAC? How do they fit into your practice as a whole?
Conor Backman: I’m presenting pieces from two recent bodies of work that engage with multiple ideas of self-referential flatness in painting. Each set of works combines elements of
with a type of monochrome. The works have evolved out of an interest in exploring territory between materiality and image.
In the first group of works, I’ve attached painted casts of flattened orange peels to simulations of canvas versos through which pigment has seeped. These pieces evolved from a series of paintings of orange trees framed behind black glass. The glass made reference to computer screens and greenhouses, both sites of manufactured availability, as well as the Renaissance idea of painting as a window. I was interested in pairing this old idea of illusionistic space with a contemporary idea of a world made flat through access to information.
The orange’s use in art history as a symbol of affluence makes it a useful metaphor for painting as a trade. I’m also interested in the action of peeling an orange in relation to mapmaking, which is analogous to the task of the representational painter in depicting the three dimensional world on a flat plane. In the paintings on view at ALAC, the orange peels become an additional monochrome within the work, functioning as both noun and adjective and providing the title for the piece.
The second group of paintings incorporate modified paint cans filled with simulated “paint” into
seascapes rendered in oil. The paint cans sit vertically in the composition, functioning as both windows and mirrors. They present a painting surface that is always new with a representation of suspended ocean surf.