12ozProphet Exclusive: Interview and Show Recap for Wyatt Mills in LAAfter 5 years in New York, LA native Wyatt Mills is back to the city that raised him in a big way. On March 8, 2014 he opened a new exhibition “Phantasmogoria,” during the launch of ESSNTL Gallery, a new gallery at the historic Bergamot Station. Wyatt’s work confronts the viewers and shakes them out of their passive role with the main goal to evoke an exploration into one’s subliminal mindset. For “Phantasmagoria,” Wyatt mashed up newspaper headlines, vapid lines from gossip mags, and vintage propaganda in his examination of the barrage of messages we receive.
12oz had a chance to catch up with Wyatt about his new body of work. For those of you that missed the opening of “Phantasmagoria,” you have until April 12 to check it out.
12ozProphet: “Phantasmogoria” deals with digital life vs. real life and the constant bombardment of messages from the media. Was there something specific that triggered this response or was it just an overall observance of our society?
Wyatt Mills: As a self proclaimed — and talk is very cheap so don’t trust me — “artist” I always considered my job to try to find out what my reality is and to depict it as accurately as possible. This doesn’t just mean, “oh I’m living in LA, I’m going to paint the Ferris Wheel at the Pier.” It means trying to pay attention to the elusive voices inside your head. What concerns these voices? What mystifies them? What is occupying the conversation inside of my head the largest percentage of the time? Am I looking at the person in front of me talking, or am I looking past their blurry head as their voice turns into mush because my attention directed shifted to the vibrating phone in my pocket? Watching people go to the movies to escape reality to only be on their cell phones texting in order to escape the movie is the kind of thing that inspired this show. Reading three different biased approaches to the same news story is the kind of thing that inspired this show. We all seem to be addicted to this dramatic overstimulation of a digital reality that has grown to become a world that informs, entertains, and directs our thoughts. The authority of a picture with a sentence below it is staggering. People seem to forget that CGI and Photoshop exist when they want to believe the exciting fictional realism that news has perfected. What we may consider facts of a story, other countries “news” is telling their citizens the opposite– However also presenting it as a fact. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and I don’t understand why we are addicted to its medium. I want to present this question, and that is what Phantasmagoria is about.
12oz: What do you want people to take away from Phantasmogoria?
WM: I want people to realize real that news and entertainment had a child, and that child is what’s on every channel. This child also has ulterior motives and its parents have died.
12oz: I noticed a Diane Arbus inspired tattoo on your arm, indicating she is obviously an inspiration to you, besides artists what else inspires your work? WM: Yeah I love when people make ugly things pretty. Or if not pretty, at least honest. Arbus did an amazing job of that. She reminds us that even the ‘freaks’ are humans too. I always enjoy work that unites alternate life perspectives. Living in NY for a while you see a lot of misunderstandings and instant judgment of people who are from different places and how silly it really is. I am always inspired by miscommunication and biased people. Not because I look up to them but I want to create something that can cause them take a few steps back and help them remember they are human and so is everyone else. I want so bad for people to realize the serious things that give us stress are really so silly, and what we consider silly should be taken more seriously. 12oz: You recently painted two murals, one in Culver City and one in Santa Monica, what was that experience like having not come from a street art background? And can we expect to see more murals anytime soon? WM: Most if not all of my artist friends in NY were very serious about street art, but I always sucked at calligraphy and was more confident with a brush than a can. I would watch them and join them but rarely contribute. I enjoyed being able to take my time working on a canvas or panel and be able to fuck up and not worry about it having to fix it in the moment. I think graffiti is awesome in the sense that it is a form of vines that grow over old buildings, except they’re colors from people’s minds. At the time I was more interested in playing with how far I could experiment with perspective, light, space, and paint surface. Now that I’ve played around with these concepts for years on canvas and paper, there’s nothing more satisfying than doing it outside. I’ve found ways to use spray paint and rollers like giant paint brushes so I can still make mistakes and then turn them into something better than it was before. After my last few murals I am addicted and can’t stop eyeing blank walls. 12oz: Your first show this year is at ESSNTL Gallery, how did you get hooked up with them? WM: I’m not sure how LeDoux found me, but since I’ve been back in LA I’ve been painting my ass off and I think things just work out sometimes. I just finished hanging the show tonight and I’m super excited we got everything together and it worked out the way it did. Interview by: Keisha Raines Photos by: Birdman