Several months ago, while he was sharing progress on his new work, Andre Razo held out his right arm and stuck my finger in the soft spot just below where the inner bicep connects to the elbow joint.
“Can you feel that? Feel the muscle spasming?” he said, concerned but laughing. He was wondering if it was permanent.
Andre had been working for hours that day, for himself and also to prepare for his show with David Aron in Leo Fitzpatrick’s Viewing Room at Marlborough Chelsea, making what he calls, “drawings of paintings.” His work is process and labor intensive, both highly structured and completely unplanned; he marks out a grid and then sees what happens. His work is incredibly dense, 2D but with layers that pop out against each other, with all the pleasure of a Magic Eye and only a little of the pain. At the opening of the show, it was common to see people step up to the pieces, and then step a lot closer.
Andre and David met in the mid-90s on the street. They would hang out every afternoon, skateboarding and figuring out what everyone was doing that night, drinking 40s of Budweiser outside the bars because they couldn’t afford to drink inside. Leo solicited David and Andre for the Viewing Room show both because of their relationship and the relationship between their work over time. David’s work is a mixture of assemblage, sculpture, and painting, with stand-out colors and use of white as other than placeholder. Both Andre and David’s work share a way of dealing with space and dimension, with layers overlapping, going over and under, flatness with a sense of varying depths. Both share an element of design and relationship.
Andre developed his current style six years ago after he moved and also let go of his studio, moving away from painting and making his works of marker on paper. Not wanting to turn his new home into a paint studio, he allowed his work to find freedom in the constraint. Still attracted to and exploring how limitless the interpretation of abstraction is, the work developed a new language with a clear dialogue of what is happening in process. The work stays organic in structural confines, overcoming it to finding peace and balance in the grid. An element of play winds through every piece, most evident in his new sculptural work, “County Line,” of painted rocks on colored sand in a painted square, pet rocks from various firing surf spots, lazy travels, and picked up on walks with friends during all hours of day and night. An intimate epitome of the drawing process, “County Line,” is a unit of a grid containing organic and human elements and their relationship to each other.
After a few years of development the first showing of the work was a two man show at Fuse Gallery in 2013, “Composite Transfigurations,” with Brian DeRan, then a piece in a group show at Slow Culture in LA the following year, “High Math.”
Andre still insists that he isn’t an artist by his definition and says, “I just make things.” We put Andre to a slightly updated version of the Proust Questionnaire, French philosopher Marcel Proust’s psychological party game.
- What is your current state of mind?
Open to everything but scattered as per usual
- What kind of projects are you currently working on?
Making drawings and music. Cleaning up my backyard.
- What music do you listen to while working?
Eclectic Playlists with lots of folk, soul and shoe gaze
- What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being with friends and family
- What is your greatest fear?
Not being ready
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
- What is the trait you most deplore in others?
- Which living person do you most admire?
- Whose style, if any, do you most admire?
- Describe a new development you would love to see in the future.
Acceptance and celebration of differences
- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
- What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m half Filipino
- Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I say “it’s like” too much
- What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Family and friends
- When and where were you happiest?
- Which talent would you most like to have?
Spanish Guitar chops
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d quit smoking
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Falling in love
- Preferred Social Media?
- If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A better version of myself
- Where would you most like to live?
New York and Paris
- What is your most valued possession?
- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
- What is your favorite occupation?
National Geographic photographer
- What is your most marked characteristic?
- What do you most value in your friends?
- Who are your favorite writers and poets?
Cocteau twins, Leonard Cohen
- What is your favorite instagram?
- Who is your hero, fiction or real life?
Pop Pop my grandfather
- What is it that you most dislike?
- What is your greatest regret?
Not indulging my instincts earlier in life
- How would you like to die?
In my sleep
- What do you live for?
- What is your motto?
Embrace and learn from failure
Photography by Tino Razo, Mariah Ernst, David Aron
By Mariah Ernst