Today, we introduce you to LA-based American-born artist Austyn Weiner. Austyn studied photography at the University of Michigan and Parsons School of Design. Working in oil on linen, Weiner brings a bounding athleticism to her lyrical abstraction, using brushes and oil sticks to draw her signature glyphs and characters into washes of brilliant color. Drawn from her own life and family history, her work calls on female postwar abstraction and the Jewish-American experience to bear a painterly grammar that is very much her own and in the present tense. In a recent Vogue profile, arts writer Dodie Kazanjian wrote of Weiner’s physicality, “this is full-arm painting.”
Austyn has had several exhibitions worldwide, with a very recent opening of her solo show “Blood on Blood“, in London, at Massimodecarlo Gallery.
Austyn! Thank you for taking the time to speak to me. Could you describe yourself to those who do not know you?
I am a born creator, in need of expressing myself at all times in order to process my surroundings and experiences, and not loose my mind (entirely).
Can you describe your artistic journey and what drove you to choose this career path?
My journey has been linear in pursuit but not in practice. From the moment I had my first emotional release via art (around age 12), I was addicted and somewhat possessed, but the medium has merely been the tool. At first it was a film camera, then it was the dark room, then it was digital photography, photoshop, collage, mixed media, and then I found oil, which has been my kryptonite and my greatest vice since.
Can we dig deeper into your unique painting style, inspiration, and message?
Whereas I think a lot of painters look to other painters for inspiration, I have always looked to musicians. My painting style is much more driven by tempo and melody than anything else. Poetry in the form of lyrics too. In this most recent exhibition “Blood on Blood”, (now on view at Massimo De Carlo Gallery in London), I approached this exhibition as if I was writing a story. I see each canvas in this body of work as a chapter making up the whole story.
What keeps you motivated and interested in your work?
I am motivated by an insatiable appetite for actionable change. I want to see and experience change in the world and the only place I have control over that is in my studio practice, and in the way I show up in the world. I am driven by that desire to implement change and to see the evidence of growth visually. It is deeply satisfying.
Name one of the most memorable reactions regarding your work?
Before my works shipped to London I opened my studio to artists and friends in LA. There is a lot of symbolism in these paintings, especially in regards to certain shapes and colors representing members of my family. People who had been following my work for some years now, completely picked up on that. It made me feel part of a community and like all of those days and nights alone in my studio, I was actually not so alone. I am creating a language that others are starting to understand.
What advice would you give to artists just starting, and is there one thing you wish you would have done differently in the first years of your art career?
I will pass on the greatest advice ever given to me, by an artist named Kenton Parker when I was first starting out. He said “No matter what, show up. Even if you sit in your studio for weeks without picking up a brush, even if you make shitty painting after shitty painting, just show up. Every day. No matter what.” That advice stuck with me and ended up forming the foundation of my work ethic. I show up every single day. No matter what. Because I followed that advice from the beginning, there isn’t really much I regret from that time. I showed up and I gave it my all, and I continue to give it my all. If I had to choose one thing I guess I would have quit smoking weed all day sooner. I probably would have made better work earlier on, but also, maybe not. It’s all part of the process.
What do you dream about?
I feel like I do most of my good dreaming during the day while conscious, and I do most of my stressing while sleeping. My dreams are often extensions of my day’s most negative thoughts, unfortunately. It’s where my tortured self resides.
Name a book or film which grabbed your attention recently and why?
I recently read “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Sunryu Suzuki and every word of the book felt like bombs of insight dropping on me. I read it at the perfect moment, amidst a period of stark sobriety and it really aided in quieting my mind–something I struggle with and also know the absolute importance of.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear: POLITICS, RELIGION, SEX?
What’s next for Austyn Weiner?
Living life! I think with this most recent body of work I really allowed the events of my personal life to inform the works and not the other way around, and that has felt really right to me.