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Jamian Juliano-Villani's Painting Compulsion

June 30, 2015

What makes a painter paint? Filmed in her Bedford-Stuyvesant studio, artist Jamian Juliano-Villani uses a digital projector to create surreal paintings and discusses the graphic source material that inspires her. Juliano-Villani’s Brooklyn studio is crowded with a wildly varied collection of books ranging from 70s-era fashion, to commercial illustration, to Scientific American-style photography, to obscure European comic art. This vast image bank—which the artist began collecting in high school—generates the building blocks for her mashup creative process.

“When I’m working I’ll have thirty images in a month or two months that I’ll keep on coming back to, and I’ll try and make those work with what I’m doing, but they’ll never look like they’re supposed to be together,” says Juliano-Villani. “That’s when the painting can change from an image-based narrative to something else.”

Working quickly and intuitively with the projector, Juliano-Villani toggles through a series of potential images on her laptop as a way to discover solutions for content and composition. Long attracted to cartoons, the artist borrows from illustration as a way to deflate painting’s historical pretensions and to speak in a more direct language; and yet, despite her use of vernacular imagery, what her works ultimately communicate might only be personally understood. “Painting is the thing that validates me and the thing that makes me feel good. I care about it, and they care about me. That’s why I put the things that I collect and really, really love in my paintings,” says Juliano-Villani. “They’re helping me figure out the things that I can’t communicate to myself yet.”

More information and credits

Featured works include Bounty Hunter (2013), Mixed Up Moods (2014), Moving Day (In and Out) (2014), Russell’s Corner (2014), and Penny’s Change (2015).

Credits

Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Producer & Editor: RAVA Films. Cinematography: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Production Assistant: Anais Freitas Elespuru. Design & Graphics: Open. Artwork: Jamian Juliano-Villani. Thanks: Josh Abelow, Brian Belott, Marina Caron, Jonathan Goldman, Liz Goldman, Jens Hoffman, JTT, & Tanya Leighton Gallery. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Art21 New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Licensing

Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Jamian Juliano-Villani

Jamian Juliano-Villani was born in 1987 in Newark, New Jersey, and lives and works in New York. A painter working with sourced images, Juliano-Villani begins her process with visual references from books, magazines, and other print media she has collected since high school. She often projects images of characters from cartoons and comic books onto her canvases, allowing her to build a narrative of disparate layers. Driven by emotion and intuition, and armed with a rough aesthetic and bold palette, Juliano-Villani’s process often results in lengthy, demanding working sessions in her studio.

Finding Inspiration

2:38
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Bruce Nauman

2:40
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Cindy Sherman

3:13
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Richard Serra

“Painting is the thing that validates me and the thing that makes me feel good. I care about it, and they care about me…They’re helping me figure out the things that I can’t communicate to myself yet.”

Jamian Juliano-Villani