Having grown up imitating what he saw on skateboards, making stencils and playing around with airbrushing techniques, Aaron Elvis Jupin looks back to his past and recalls how “it was all bad, but it taught me a lot about what didn’t work.” Now, the California-based artist turns the mundane into the extraordinary, creating distinctive paintings drawn from his favourite childhood cartoons.
The magic happens in his Boyle Heights studio in Los Angeles, where Aaron spends his time “constantly thinking and drawing”. As his apartment is equal parts his home and his workplace, he explains how it’s a process that never really stops: “I don’t have a formula for creating or a scheduled practice,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Sometimes I work bright and early, and others I run errands and work late into the night – it all depends. It’s an important part of the process though.”
Alongside this creative upbringing which involved watching The Simpsons and an animated sitcom called Duckman, his uncle, Andrew Brandou, who is also a painter and illustrator, influenced his work at great lengths. Aaron lived with his uncle while attending school at the Otis College of Art and Design. “He really took me under his wing and taught me a lot about paint, technique and drawing,” Aaron says. “Basically, I went to two schools – one that was academic and one that actually taught me to draw and paint the way I wanted. Living with Andrew was really an ‘unschooling’; he inspired me to make the work I wanted and not worry so much about what I ‘should’ be painting. I owe a lot to that man.”
With a portfolio filled with Dali-esque, satirical and otherworldly paintings, Aaron breaks it down to the fact that “anything can happen” and that there “aren’t any rules” in his cartoon reality. By playfully mimicking everyday objects and Disney cartoons, what you see is the real world warped into the unknown. This is in part due to his artistic style, but also the fact that he bases a lot of his work on memory – from either something that happened last week or from when he was a child. It’s through this technique that the “reality becomes obscured and things become abstract,” making a familiar object seem unrecognisable in an instant.
Aaron explains how this is intentional: “Each painting has a loose narrative that typically allows the viewer to navigate the painting and create their own, based on the relationship they have with the imagery presented.” He continues: “Recently, I’ve been thinking about time and our relationship with nature and the environment we surround ourselves in. A lot of the paintings have double meanings, both positive and negative. I enjoy the psychological aspect of this and where one’s mind goes when looking at the work.”
So far, Aaron’s work has been shown at various galleries, including Underdonk Gallery in New York, Pt.2 Gallery in Oakland, Smart Objects in Los Angeles, Fisk Gallery in Portland, as well group exhibitions such as Maximum Occupancy 10 – his senior thesis exhibition at the Otis College of Art and Design. And right now, he’s exploring the “world of familiarity and domesticity, while engaging the viewer in the personification of objects.” Fabulously weird and strangely recognisable, we can’t wait to see what Aaron produces next.
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