The opulent art of Andy Dixon

A conversation with artist Andy Dixon on the intersection of art and commerce.

The  idea  of  a  dramatist  writing  a  play  within  a  play  or  a  screenwriter  penning  a  film  about  making  a  film  is  a recurrent theme on stage and on screen. However, a painting containing the image of another painting is currently perceived as unconventional practice in the art world—especially when it comes from Andy Dixon. The concept of capturing existing works of art on canvas first became popular in the 16th century, but Dixon, with his historical know-how, has been able to bring the technique back in vogue.  His  fixation  stems  from  the  way  the  Vancouver-born, LA-based  artist considers the idea of opulence. Works that have conveyed this the most have been exhibited at  New  York’s  Joshua  Liner  Gallery  last  year.  That  sense  of  intrigue and curiosity  has  continued  in  his  current  work.

“Of course, I believe in art so I’m not trying to cheapen the magic of  it,”  says  Dixon,  “but  at  the  same  time,  you  could  also  look  at  an  artist  as  someone  who  just  makes  products  to  sell.”  In  a  sense,  the  artist believes that art is, in its own way, a luxury item to own. Which is why Dixon’s work is a conversation between art and commerce—his  paintings  touch  on  how  the  two  can  live,  work  and  experiment  together. “I think there is a lot of comedy and taboo that exists in the gray area of those two concepts,” he says.

In the Patron’s Home series, Dixon recreates his own paintings in domestic scenes set in the homes of those who now own the works. Detailing anonymous and intricate living spaces in LA, Hong Kong, London  and  New  York,  the  Patron’s  Home  series  is  devoted  entirely  to patrons as it is a contemporary interpretation of the tradition of artists  painting  their  own  masterpieces  (as  seen  most  notably  in Henri Matisse’s The Red Studio). In comparison, Dixon’s Patron’s Homeseries  is  an  examination  of  the  evolving  relationship  an  artist  has  with his work following its purchase. “I  wanted  to  highlight  the  commercial  side  of  things,”  says  Dixon, “if a painting is now bought and sold, what happens to a work of art when it is out of my hands? ”

Andy Dixon art, acrylic and pastel on canvas
Patron’s Home, Los Angeles, 2019 (Photo courtesy of Andy Dixon)

In Patron’s Home (Milan), the artist conjures an image of a living room flooded with bold art, stylish furnishings and an ornate rug. At first glance this appears to be a simple scene in a contemporary home,  but  on  the  wall  is  a  revelation:  Dixon’s own work, Allegory of Music Painting (2019), acquired by the homeowner, has been recreated within the new canvas. “In  the  way  that  Andy  Warhol  played  with  Campbell’s  soup  cans  as  a  signifier  of  pop  culture,  I  am  playing  with  old  paintings,”  says  Dixon,  intrigued  by  the  pop  culture  interpretation of art history.

Self-taught  since  he  first  picked  up  a  brush,  Dixon’s color choices are instinctual rather than informed  by  years  of  technical  study.  His  style  was  developed  through  trial  and  error. “For source material I’m looking at various eras of art history like  Flemish  still life and Renaissance reclining nudes, things don’t  really  have  much  strife  in  them. I’m  looking  to  appropriate  images that are full of desire.”

What is most unexpected in Dixon’s work is his connection to his punk rock roots,  where  he  first  began  experimenting  with  silk  screening  techniques and layering colors for his bands D.B.S. and The Red Light Sting, and his Vancouver-based independent music label, Ache Records. Dixon’s color theory was also developed as a response to his exploration of the interactions in a palette of 20 custom-made paints. The same deep dedication to the exploration of shades and hues is something he sees in in established and emerging art spaces everywhere.

“I’ve  been  noticing  there  has  been  a  rise  in  young  artists  who really know how to paint technically well,” remarks Dixon. “But what you do with that technical prowess is [key]... because you still have to say something important.”

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