It’s doubtful that we will encounter a more idiosyncratic title for a Dan’s Papers cover than the current one: “The Belligerent Plasticity of Duality in He, Himself.”
The artist, Eddie Rehm, doesn’t mean to be confusing or contrite. Words like “duality” and “plasticity” may very well describe his work’s theme, a dense and spontaneous collection of images that all seem to connect to one another. Some of his other pieces, like “She and I Said Goodbye” and “She and I Missed the Carriage,” are also unusual, suggesting a story might be taking place. Yet looking at these images doesn’t evoke a narrative of any kind. Instead, the viewer tries to discover identifiable objects, including figures, which would give the work some anchor or focus. No matter. Rehm’s paintings are to be experienced above all else.
You were really displaced as a result of the storm, Sandy. How did it affect you?
I couldn’t paint often like I’m used to because I had no electricity. I had to move into my girlfriend’s house, and then she lost electricity. We had to stay with my parents. I am now just cleaning out my studio and getting back to painting everyday.
What’s your philosophy of art?
I’m always looking for my own personal truth. I’m not looking to do trendy stuff. I have no time for people who want a painting to match their walls. I do “art for art’s sake.”
How does this translate into a particular theme?
I envision a quintessential man of now, broken by society and the recession. My themes are real life. I put everything in a therapeutic sense.
So what do you want to convey to your viewers? What kind of therapy are you giving them?
We are handed so many things—it’s instant gratification. We are basically pampered. We sit on a couch, everything is at our disposal. We have to get the newest iPhone and the next one after that.
About your practical, not theoretical, skills: How did you learn painting?
I am self-taught although I have been mentored by people like Ken Husband, for example. When I was young, I went to museums to actually see all the art in person. I wanted to learn what layers the artists started with, what colors they mixed.
How do you learn about art today?
I study art, read about it. I try to change the perspective of how people see the world.
How do you learn about your own art, what you create?
There’s a difference between painting and being an artist. I am an artist. This is what I do, have done. I want to see it through. I want to put myself out there.
Do you travel to “put yourself out there?”
No. I travel inside myself, looking for clarity. I keep painting, find clarity, lose it, keep finding it again.
What do you do to keep going, to keep looking for clarity?
I have lots of discipline and focus. I work so hard; art is everything I do.