The Lionheart Five: An Interview with Geoffrey Stein

The Lionheart Gallery
Dec 1, 2016 7:19PM

Five questions we ask every Lionheart Gallery artist.

Photo Credit: Geoffrey Stein

1. Name one of your most defining moments as an artist. 

GS: In the early 1990’s I had been drawing at the Art Students’ League for a couple of years, when I finally got a likeness of the model. Out of all the anatomy classes, drawing lessons, practice and measuring came an image that looked like the person we were drawing. Not a photographic copy, but a small pencil drawing that you could recognize was the model. It was thrilling and helped me to double down on drawing classes and to practice on my own. Twenty five years later that drawing is lost, but I still smile when I capture the likeness or the personality of the person I’m drawing (or these days painting).

2. Do you collect anything? 

GS: I collect drawings and small works made by artists I went to school with and whose work I admire. I began trading works with friends in art school. I keep an assortment of these works in the entry way to my apartment so I get to see them every day. 

Photo Credit: Geoffrey Stein

3. If you could choose anyone—and we mean anyone—whom would you pick as a mentor? 

GS: I’d love to have Jenny Saville as a mentor. I remember in the 1990’s first seeing her painting Fulcrum in Soho. The painting felt bigger than the gallery space. The figures were made of chunks of paint. Beautiful, powerful pieces of color. This was a new way to paint a figure. I was blown away.

Fulcrum, Jenny Saville

4) What’s the most indispensable item in your studio? 

GS: A chair. I spend a lot of time looking at work and thinking about what the painting needs to make it work and whether it is finished. My old wooden beach chair is key.

Photo Credit: Geoffrey Stein

5) Tell us about one piece of art in this exhibition. You might describe your inspiration, your process, the title, what the work signifies to you… 

GS: My portrait of Larry Wilmore was the first of the Late Night Portraits. It was made in reaction to Trump’s rise in the primaries. After spending over a month on my Trump Bankruptcy Collage in fall 2015, I wanted to paint someone whose work I admired. I started with Larry Wilmore of the Nightly Show, which I had been watching at lunch. The Larry Wilmore portrait started as a 30 x 30 inch collage. After a few weeks the 30 square inch collage shut down and wasn’t working. I regrouped and decided to scale up the portrait and see if that helped. The larger collage was done on a large sheet of paper stapled to the wall. It came together quickly and Susan Grissom the Director of the Lionheart Gallery, suggested I do more. The rest of the Late Night collages followed over the next 11 months. 

Larry Wilmore, Geoffrey Stein

The Lionheart Gallery