Louis Fratino’s Long Island City studio is part of the Artha Project artist residency program. Among the others in the shared studio space, I am quickly drawn to a long wall jeweled with multiple small paintings that hold snapshots of moments shared between Louis and those close to him. A gentle stretch from an inversion, a simple sip from a cup, two figures nuzzling in bed, the paintings bolster warmth, solidarity, and peacefulness. His works are clearly intimate in both scale and subject. Each supple figure is cradled safely in its tight frame, yielding both tenderness and eroticism. His painting in progress hangs in the center of a paint speckled circle, warmly haloed by the brush strokes of preceding works. There is an intuitive desire to squeeze the juicy feet and bellies of his adoring figures. The dry and waxy rendering of paint invite a closer look into his inventive mark making techniques that create a diverse textural surface.
Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?
Louis Fratino: My first experience with art was probably my amazement with various illustrations in children’s books as a kid. I used to hoard books and try to figure out how they could make the character look the same on each page. I made my own versions of books as a kid. We also lived not so far from Washington D.C., so I was able to go to the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art which was incredible. I always really loved drawing and don’t remember having a defining moment of figuring that out. It was just always something that I did. I would go through multiple reams of printer paper in a weekend. Eventually my parents noticed and heard from my teachers that I was very interested in art. I took art classes in high school where we had a very robust program. The art room was in the old gymnasium where six or seven people could be working on easels at one time. I have always made work about relationships and intimacy and love. In high school I was making paintings about my siblings, and when I was in a relationship I started painting the person I was with.
Louis: I decided I wanted to study painting my freshman year of college. I was trying to entertain the idea of a dual degree in illustration right up until graduation. I made a manuscript for a children’s book and had done some editorial pieces. I decided it wouldn’t be possible to go all the way and do both at the same time. There are tons of artists who make publications and do things outside of painting when they’re older that I want to do, but I think right now it just demands too much to try to build both of those careers. Illustration in a way feels harder to me sometimes because you don’t get to just generate your own material. And maybe that’s why I’m ultimately a painter.
Tony “Rubin” Sjöman grew up in Bergsjön, Sweden, and began doing graffiti when he was 9 years old.Painting under the name Rubin415, he splits his time between large scale murals, and studio paintings, specializing in a unique geometric style, and a clean aesthetic, reminiscent of Scandinavian design. He uses fine line, and abstract shapes, meticulously painted with a very specific palette and many shades of grey.
Rubin’s style is an elaborate evolution of his longtime work with graffiti. The precise curves, lines, and shapes originate from his adopted graffiti name “Rubin” and along with shapes inspired by the surrounding urban landscape, appear in an abstracted form throughout both his studio and street art work. The 415 in his name is a homage to his hometown Bergsjön in Sweden. The thin copper lines accenting some of the pieces are a tribute to Rubin’s father who was a welder.
We met in his studio in East Williamsburg to talk about his current projects, the influence of his Scandinavian roots, and the effects street art has on neighborhoods.
Born into a family of architects and photographers, Bolivian artist Diego Romay had wanted to go to art school with no other purpose than doing what he liked. Four years after graduating and saving money he made from a couple of art shows, Diego had the chance to study abroad and come to North America with his family’s support. He found mentors in a shop in Washington, DC who taught him the techniques of professional tattooing. After two years of learning, his experience and love for the craft led him to permanently relocate to Brooklyn. Continue reading →
My appreciation for abstract art comes more from the streets of Brooklyn than the galleries of Manhattan.
Devoe Street 11222
So, forget that it’s chipped, sprayed or splattered paint and enjoy its properties the way you’re supposed to in a museum. There’s some awfully cool little compositions that can be found on the streets of Greenpoint and beyond.
My appreciation for abstract art comes more from the littered sidewalks of Brooklyn than the galleries of Manhattan.
Meserole Street 11222
Forget that it’s trash and enjoy the materials, colors and textures the way you’re supposed to in a museum. There’s some awfully cool little compositions of junk that can be extracted from the streets of Greenpoint and beyond.