Los Angeles-based artist Andy Dixon is recognized for his charismatic use of color. He first caught our attention in 2017 at PULSE Art Fair in Miami Beach through a presentation with Beers London. Since, we’ve grown fascinated with his contemporary take on classic paintings and his cheeky look at luxury lifestyle. At Milan Design Week in April, the Dixon presented an exhibition with Versace—a house he’s long been influenced by. The presentation welcomed new and existing works, with a few others shown in the house’s nearby boutique.
Whitewall caught up with Dixon to hear more about his presentation, and how he’s using the same materials for art as he is for style.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your collaborative works with Versace, presented during Milan Design Week.
ANDY DIXON: I’m very excited about this amazing project. We will be installing selected works from my recent exhibit—at Joshua Liner, New York, titled “Look at This Stuff Isn’t It Neat”—into Via Gesù for the event, alongside some other more collaborative and site-specific elements, such as sculptural shirt pieces. One of the key pieces of exhibition, an installation of a hand-painted, nine-by-seven-feet Versace shirt, is re-visited and re-imagined for Design Week.
Collaborating with the house’s menswear design studio, we developed two new prints that mix elements of his own art in a Versace context, including a motif of the original shirt I created, making things come full circle in an ironic way. Two of these over-scaled shirts will be displayed in Via Gesù along with the original, and two others will be shown in the Versace store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.
WW: Once of those works—a hand painted nine-foot by seven-foot Versace shirt, will be displayed at Versace’s Palazzo. Tell us a bit about your creative process behind this work, and why its was created (and previously included in “Look at this Stuff Isn’t It Neat” in New York).
AD: Coincidentally I was already in the midst of producing the giant Versace shirt when I was contacted by their team. The piece was created for my New York exhibit. It’s a shirt made of the exact same materials that my paintings are made from, canvas, acrylic paint and oil pastel or stick so it functions as both a painting and a sculpture.
I acquired the original shirt and then, with the help of a pattern maker and sewer, we took it apart, deconstructing it back into its base pieces, and patterned the giant version by scaling up three-and-a-half times. I painted each pattern piece separately, reinterpreting the imagery of the original pieces, before the sewing process because I wanted the paint and illustrated lines to go under the thread and through the seams, much like a real shirt. If I had painted it after it was assembled, it would have had a very different look – the paint would have pooled in the seams, etc. I then sculpted to-scale ceramic buttons and we made a walnut clothes hanger with brass plated metal hook.
Somewhere in the midst of this process I was contacted by the Versace team so it all felt like kismet. One of the first things I told them was, “I can’t wait to show you what I’m working on right now!”
WW: Tell us a bit about the new prints you’ve created.
AD: The prints for the manufactured shirt sculptures are inspired by the original one from my New York exhibit but, instead of these being hand painted, they are designed as a collaboration with the Versace team and myself using plundered elements of both Versace’s and my own catalog of work. We collaged complimentary elements of both parties, recontextualizing them by pairing them in various combinations which actually mirrors the kind of adoption of visual tropes that both Versace and I do in our own practices already. It is a true collaboration in that the ping-ponging of ideas, from art to design to art to design, happened so many times that all borders between who did what have disintegrated.
WW: You’re also presenting custom wallpaper designs displayed at Via Gesu. Tell us a bit about that
AD: Yes, I came up with a wallpaper design for selected walls of Via Gesù which my work will be hanging over. The wallpaper is created primarily from a painting of a Versace shirt I did for my Art Toronto exhibit in 2016 via Winsor Art Projects entitled, Expensive Things II, laid out in a kind of oversized polka dot formation.
WW: You’ve said that you’ve always been drawn to Gianni and Donatella’s work. Why?
AD: I see a great deal of similarities in both concept and execution between Gianni and Donatella’s work and my own. While I can’t speak on behalf of the former, it seems to me that we share a love for maximalism and color as well as a certain playful magical place where beauty and humor, sincerity and irony, highbrow and low brow, touch. I also think we have a shared love for recontextualizing cultural tropes, using images so familiar to all of us, but placing them in new contexts to make something brand new from them. This is the same process that rap producers perform with sampling; when Kanye [West] samples Arthur Russell, for example, it functions as both homage and vehicle for something brand new. He’s tipping his proverbial hat to musicians he loves but he is also making something completely original—not just despite the sample, but because of the sample.