“I Think We’re Alone Now” | Featured Artist Interview: Seamus Conley

It’s safe to say that I’ve been more than a little vocal about my feelings towards photorealism. I’ve always felt that because camerasexist photorealism is equivalent to handwriting a book that’s already been printed or making a castle out of toothpicks. Sure it’s hard, but is it really necessary or even impressive in an artistic sense? I feel the same way about literature: if you can film it why write it. The point is you have to display something different, some emotion, some scene that couldn’t be captured by a camera or by eye. Seamus goes beyond that, he’s created entire worlds in each painting. Worlds worthy of awe and terror feelings that each of the paintings characters stoically portray. To put it simply: this is how you do photorealism. We threw some questions his way to see what went into all of this and what the man’s actual world is like:

Do you feel that your unique approach to photorealism, the establishing of worlds than can’t be experienced, has made a difference in the reception towards your paintings?

I think so; photorealism can sometimes appeal to a certain audience.  I think because of my interest and conscious effort to interweave fantasy and reality my paintings have a way of transcending genres and being accessible to people who either like all kinds of art or others who are loyal to a specific scene, whether it be “contemporary, art school art ” or “Pop Surrealism.” Another artist told me my paintings are” like listening to Radiohead even hardcore Metal heads like listening to Radiohead.”  I thought that was a cool analogy.

Your paintings seem all most cinematic in an epic kind of way, do you tend to pull from films when coming up with ideas?

I was born and raised in LA where “movies” seem to be embedded in the city’s consciousness. You really are bombarded with billboards and other cinematic imagery.  In my 20s I caught the bug and wanted to be a director. I wound up taking a bunch of filmmaking courses instead of going to art school.  I concluded that making films would be too hard, too social and too political for my personality.  Photography or graphic design didn’t seem challenging enough and too technical.  Painting offers just the right amount of suffering.  I guess I think you should suffer at least a little bit for your art.  Lately I have been taking screen captures of different movies for composition ideas.  You never know; one day I might pull a Julian Schnable and make some sort of film

With the approaching nuclear holocaust are you afraid that your art might become stale because it’ll be just regular photorealism?
If it happens I suppose I’ll just paint still-lifes of fruit.

Is there a thought narrative to each paintings subject? There seems, to me at least, to be a sense of longing, sadness, and awe in each figure, do you just approach the paintings with those feelings in mind or is there a story to each?I pretty much approach it with those feelings. There’s a lot of free association involved, and I have a broad idea of what the paintings are about when I’m building them. When it comes down to it they’re probably mostly inspired by some  traumatic experience left over from my childhood.  I enjoy narratives with an open ending and a few untied strings.If you could have anyone score your paintings who would it be (Hans Zimmer and John Williams aren’t available in this hypothetical scenario)?Maybe the group Salem or one of those guys who make this spacey ambient music I listen to sometimes.

Do you have in showings coming up? 
I have a two person show in January in LA.  I only have one painting finished so far, so I better stop writing.

 In a freak accident all visual art in the world has been destroyed with the exception of two artists that you can choose. What are we looking at from now on? 
It might change in five minutes, but right now I’ll go with Darren Aronofsky and Dain Fagerholm (look at his gifs)

For more from Seamus check out his site.

Cameron Patton

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