Noel Paris is an amazing skateboarder and been in several bands rocking multiple instruments over the years. But his abstract art--typified by the cerebral way that he forms collages--has gotten the most recognition. (One of his pieces has been on the cover of The Lemonheads single, "I Just Can't Take it Anymore" off of the album, Varshons).
Paris is such a consummate human being that his friends have given him the nickname "The Ultimate Male"--and he's living up to it. This Saturday night at the Curbside Gallery in Santa Ana, Noel is showcasing his collection, "pasting my life away." This is your chance to experience the awesomeness that is, Noel Paris. And his collection too of course.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): First and foremost, why all lower case letters for the title of your show?
Noel Paris: Honestly I did the title like that because I think capitals kind of glorify words too much. I think people sort of do that with the capitals.
Whooooah. How dare you tell a writer that?
Ha! Not at all. It humanizes the letters and really, it's aesthetically pleasing. I like the way it looks. I think all capitals are overdone.
OK, so you have a war on capitals. It's fine.
[Laughs.] I just think some people get so carried away with it. The title of my show isn't really that important. It's not like the greatest thing that ever happened ever!
Well I think it's pretty great but I'm not here to judge. So besides the obvious, how did you come up with the name your collection?
Well, the name of the show is, "pasting my life away" because I work mostly with collage. It is a collection of collages that I did from 2007 to 2011. In 2007 my work and the way I approach it totally changed. I wanted to show the pieces from that period of time.
What made you sit down and start cutting up books and turning them into art?
It was totally out of circumstance. My band (Scrimmage Heroes) started touring and I started living in smaller and smaller spaces. I had no room or space to paint so I started doing these small collages. The magazines and books were cheap if not free, so that was how I made art. I also love the qualities that paper has. It completely changed the way I approached painting.
Are there other materials that you are using?
I still love to draw, so you will find pencil and ink in my work as well. They mostly serve as the architecture of the piece. Almost everything else is paper.
So will your experience with paper lead into some other material for your next go round?
The new pieces are becoming a bit more three-dimensional. The most recent piece in my show is starting to take on some of those qualities. I have been bending the wood and rethinking the picture plane.
When you very first start, do you know what your pieces are going to be or do they just sort of evolve?
Every decision that is made is based on a formula that will give me a random result. For instance, one day I may only work with every fifth page in a book. I have no idea what kind of images or colors that particular page is going to offer. I just have to break them down and reconfigure them. My process touches on some of the principals of Dadaism. It's an attempt to prod the subconscious, and in a way, illustrate it. It is mostly based on random selection.
We gotta know, do you ever use the Weekly in your decoupage?
It's very possible! I've used thousands of magazines. I would say for sure I have. Most of the time I just grab what is in front of me that is a line and color. And it's collage, not decoupage. [Laughs.] I haven't heard that word since I was a kid.
Whatever, I keep it old school. So what kinds of pictures do you use to create your pieces?
Whatever is on the page that happens to be chosen. Being an abstract painter, I try to take the images and break them down until they are just lines and colors. However, because they are actual images and text, they begin to take on a new life or identity. Words, when broken down are really just lines. When I collage them on a surface, I approach it similar to the way I would draw with a pencil or brush. I love gesture and that is tough to get with collage. Most artists that work with collage are very intricate and the work has sharp edges. I want to paint with paper.
Do you feel like you deserve recycling credit for your collection?
I wouldn't say I deserve any credit for it. I do use a lot of paper, so in a way I am recycling it rather than throwing it away, but it's not what drives the process. I do care very much about the planet so maybe it's an extension of that.
Then your collection is kind of like turning one man's trash into another man's treasure...
Not at all. Books are the treasures. One may say that I'm turning one man's treasure into another mans trash. In a way, I'm trying to rewrite the story of each book that I use.
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Always humble I see. Let's get to the nitty gritty. When will you be putting down the glue and start rocking live again?
[Laughs.] Pappy's getting too old to rock these days. I still play drums in a cool little Mod band called the Sockets and I do a lot of recording. Music is still a huge part of my life and I find it weaving its way into my visual world at times. However, I always feel like a painter at heart. Everything is visual for me - even sound.
Check out "pasting my life away" (in all lower case letters) at Curbside Gallery this Saturday night from 7pm to 11pm. You can see more of Noel's work on his website www.princeonion.com and check one of his many rocking videos on www. youtube.com. Curbside Gallery is located at 928 East Santa Ana Boulevard in Santa Ana. For more info call (714) 550-7050.