Photos by Garry Booth
Cody Lusby is best known for his expressive, colorful, mixed-media artwork--and perhaps by his renegade alter ego, "Mustachio." I have been a fan and follower for several years, but only recently had the chance to meet him at his Long Beach studio, which is in what used to be the horse stable of one of Long Beach's oldest buildings. We got a chance to discuss his work, his inspiration and get an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at some of his newest works in progress.
Cody, describe a general focus for your work, and more specifically the newest series you have in progress.
There art two major things I focus on in every piece I create. One is the conceptual thought and the other is achieving a contemporary aesthetic. I try to have an equal blend of them both. The concepts in my work deal with modern day ideas and struggles and the aesthetics are all about technique, style and medium. The goal is to be a painter of my time. Use the art that has come before me and evolve it.
The focus of my newest series is about letting go of anxiety. I chose anxiety for its complexity and it seems every one (including myself) deal with it in one shape or form. Letting go of that anxiety is a magnificent and truly freeing feeling that I had to paint. To illustrate this release I have created images of people vomiting up butterflies. The figures in each painting are blurred, giving and almost etherial look, while the butterfly swarm is static. The figure is created in oil and the butterflies are collage images of what is causing the anxiety. I feel if I create enough of these pieces maybe I too will be free of the butterflies.
Your studio is in Long Beach--describe how the city, it's residents, and it's surroundings affect the way you work or your work itself. Do you find it supports your efforts?
RadioLab, a radio podcast I like to listen to while I paint, had an episode called "Cities" talking about how every city has its own tempo/beat. After listening to this podcast I realized I was more connected to our city than I thought. From the fog horns to the squirrels, Long Beach's rhythm makes me feel at home. I never want to leave my studio and I have never created the amount of work I have created here.
You use a wide variety of mixed media, including collage, spray paint, and brush styles. How do you think this contributes to your overall process? Do you strategically plan your collage and textures, or is it more stream of consciousness as you create?
Allow me to break down each element that contributes to the paintings I create. I think it will help understand how each element contributes.
I use spray paint to establish a composition, gesture and soften edges. Acrylic paint adds structure, texture and form. Collage adds visual queues that create the story and abstract the main focal image into conceptual thought. The oil paint refines and establishes the main focal image. I strategically plan each step, but always leave room for that stream. For example I never know what collage I am going to use. I just focus on the color or concept I am trying to illustrate and let the rest solve itself.
Since your style pulls from several schools of thought, and combines multiple techniques, I'm sure you have a long list of artistic influences. Are there any artists that you look to most for inspiration?
You're correct. I do have a long list of influences, but there are two at the moment that I tend go back to the most. The collage, mixed media aspect of my work is of course completely influenced by Robert Rauschenberg, the man is a genius. Every time I look at his work, I am inspired. He makes the complicated look effortless and the ordinary extraordinary. For the painterly side of my work, Jenny Saville is the largest influence. She lets the accidents remain and leaves brush stokes apparent. On occasion I will pull out the books I have on these artists and many others while I paint. I feel it drives me to create to a level I some day hope to be at.
Cody Lusby's work will be showing at the following regional galleries and exhibitions over the next month:
- Saturday April 13, "5 Year Anniversary Exhibition" at the Phone Booth Gallery 2533 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA, 7PM
- Saturday April 20, "Never a Dull Moment" at the Cella Gallery 11135 Weddington St. Suite #112, North Hollywood, 7PM
- Saturday May 4, "Love, Sex, Unity, Respect" at the PAS and Hibbleton Galleries 223 W Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, 6PM
- *Solo Show*-Saturday May 11th, "Goodbye Butterfly" at Design Matters, 11527 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 7PM