Bak 17 Is Online!
'Face', 17th issue of Bak Magazine, is now online! Sit back, relax and enjoy!


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Interviews in Bak | 16
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Alyssa Monks
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Alyssa Monks

- Titles that name your paintings are as direct, transparent, and steep as the work itself. Is that a coincidence or a part of a concept?

I try to title my work simply and directly as to not influence the perception of the work.

- When your work is almost impossible to detach from a photograph, it also has a high level of creativity, and holds extreme artistic gestures within itself. As we describe Alyssa Monks, "Photorealist" as a tag feels weak and almost out of context to us. How do you assess that?

Usually once a person sees the work in person they no longer compare the work to photographs. The compressed 3x5 jpeg on a screen doesn't convey the loose and heavily painted surface that isn't tight and smooth in finish like a photorealistic painting. I wouldn't label myself as a photorealist, as I'm sure a really good photorealist would be insulted.  it is not my intention to recreate a photograph, but rather create a dynamic and luscious surface of delicious paint that pushes and pulls its way into a slowly disintegrating illusion the closer you get to it.

- In a majority of your paintings we recognize the figure's interaction within the borders of the canvas. It appears that the steam from figure's breath, the water dripping down the figure's skin and the figure's body all contact the surface of the painting. Is there any ground behind this observation, and what would it be?

Yes. The work lately has been focused on the surface uninterrupted from edge to edge.

- Looking at your work in a time line, your earlier works, such as, "Touch", "Undercurrents 3", "Breath" and "Surface" specifically, seem more abstracted from all other works especially the recent ones. Have you intentionally walked away from that style over time?

Those pieces were part of an underwater series I had done a few years ago as part of this evolution of a water series. I was experimenting with the distorted reflection that the under-surface of the water creates. I may revisit this vantage point, but it was the initial break into a more abstract way of looking at the form. From there I worked on a more subtle way of disintegrating the form using islands of steam and water droplets to fracture the illusion.

- You are mainly using female figures, painting their absolute private moments. Is there any conceptual or artistic reason for that?

I am a woman and I understand what it feels like to inhabit a woman's skin. I paint what I know. Occasionally I paint men too, but I don't feel quite as connected as I do when painting a woman.

- You have a unique style that dominates majority of your paintings. What becomes the challenge, creates the drive from one painting to another?

I'm been adding more elements and filters between the viewer and the subject and straying further and further from a clean realistic illusion. I like to create moments where the illusion and abstraction are in a bit of tension within the same picture.

- Are you interested in independent cinema? What kind of movies and which directors do you like most, in terms of visual comprehension?

I've loved David Lynch films, as well as Todd Solondz films, of course, Pedro Almodóvar, some of the most beautiful films I've ever seen are the Godfathers I and II, Mullholand Drive, Amelie, American Beauty, Cinema Paradiso, Requiem For a Dream.

- Does music inspire you?

I try and save it for the last part of the day, especially at the end of a painting, like a celebration as I get closer to finishing. I'm open to new music though, just don't have time to research it much. Mostly I listen to NPR and archives of stories or podcasts.

- Theme of our current issue is 'City'. In what ways does New York City motivate you? If it did not exist on the world map, where would you rather live?
New York City has so much character and grit I don't know anywhere else quite like it. Not sure where else I'd really belong, although I could live a year almost anywhere I think. I would probably pick somewhere abroad though, maybe just outside a major city like amsterdam or rome or even somewhere I've never been. But New York is so versatile, and so unpredictable. It can wear you down if you let it, so you have to keep it fresh and not get sucked into the stress. But NY has so many sides to it, its like 10 cities in one.

New York City has so much character and grit I don't know anywhere else quite like it. Not sure where else I'd really belong, although I could live a year almost anywhere I think.

- Alyssa Monks / Bak 16
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