Before becoming a painter, Honor Titus was the lead singer of a punk band; before becoming the lead singer of a punk band, he was a writer and poet.
This path may be reversed and said again: because Ona Titus is a writer and poet, a friend asked him: Hey, you write poetry anyway, why not just write lyrics for us? As a result, he became a member of the punk band Cerebral Ballzy. Then, as the band became an instant hit, well-known artist Raymond Pettibon became a fan and designed the cover of one of their albums. Raymond asked Ona: Hey, I like your song, why don’t you come to my studio and help? So Ona became Raymond’s assistant. After familiarizing himself with all the operations of the art studio, he picked up the paintbrush himself and once again became an instant hit.
Asia is exciting
No matter which order you listen to this story, there is no doubt that Ona is an enviable lucky person. Almost as soon as he painted his first decent work, he was spotted by Taylor Gallery and brought to New York to exhibit. His paintings were hung side by side with the works of the famous Alex Katz. together. The response from the market is also exciting. Although he is just starting out and does not have any transaction records to back him up, more than 20 important collectors have expressed their intention to buy this painting. He also saw similarities in his paintings and Katz’s paintings: bright colors, simple outlines, flat brushstrokes. “Seeing them hang me and Katz together, I realized that people are Understand my creation.”
It is indeed an eye-catching work: a man and a woman are resting in a leisurely manner on the grass covered with petals. The woman has her back to the picture and cannot see her face clearly. The man is like a southern elegant man. The gangster is wearing a suit and a Panama hat, lying on his back. The whole picture is filled with a kind of nostalgic leisure, which is reminiscent of Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” and Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass”.
I tried to write about this person and listen to his songs at the same time. After three minutes, I was frightened by the deafening noise and turned off my headphones. I realized that the Ona who painted the painting and the Ona who was the lead singer of the band may be different aspects of the same person. The calmness, alienation, and even classicalness revealed in his paintings are nowhere to be seen in his punk music.
Ona’s recent solo exhibition “Viewing Distance” at Longlati Jingwei Art Center in Shanghai is his first solo exhibition in China. Prior to this, he had just finished an exhibition at Gagosian, and Asia made him particularly excited. “I had a painting at auction two years ago, and it was finally sold for five times the estimate. The collector is from Asia. It makes me feel the acceptance of my works in the East, and I am also curious about how Chinese audiences will evaluate my paintings.” His pictures can’t help but be associated with the atmosphere of Impressionism, which may be due to the two-dimensional attribute – —In this matter, it was Japanese ukiyo-e that profoundly influenced Impressionism, and Chinese ink painting that profoundly influenced ukiyo-e—a hidden line of culture that makes it possible to feel déjà vu in viewing, and also reminds this kind of viewing distance on.
two noble men
It was Raymond Pattybone who introduced him to the door of painting. For Ona, the years working in Raymond’s studio were a time of “information explosion” in his life. Raymond was a comprehensive A typical artist, he was born in the United States in 1957. He is compatible with many iconic American cultural elements and is especially good at integrating images and text. Literature, art history, philosophy, religion, politics, business, fashion, sports, and deviant youth subculture are all sources of inspiration for Raymond. This complexity greatly influenced Ona. Raymond never taught him how to draw, but often discussed literature with him. “Raymond had a library, almost a small library. He often pulled out classic novels and talked to me about the stories in them.” William. · Blake, Proust, John Ruskin and Walt Whitman… Literary nature constitutes Raymond’s visual rhetoric and also profoundly influenced Ona.
It was also in Raymond’s studio that Ona was exposed to a large number of painting classics. He found that he was interested in the Nabi School of painting, including Pierre Bonnard. The style that emphasized outline and color and eliminated perspective naturally lowered the technical threshold and gave amateur painters a simple and straightforward stepping stone.
Another of Ona’s great figures in painting was the famous artist Henry Tylor, who also lived in Los Angeles. Taylor is an expert at depicting characters, lively and productive. “Some media previously described Henry Taylor as my mentor, but he was actually just a close friend of mine.” Henry Taylor held an exhibition for Ona in his studio, which was Ona’s first as an artist. appearance. At that time, the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in the United States. Hundreds of guests crowded into Henry’s studio. The gallerist among the guests immediately decided to take Ona’s works to New York. “It was really a sensation.”
novel style painting
Thanks to a writer’s eye, Ona is most interested in people. Every minute he spent on the streets of China, he was observing the crowds around him and learning to speak Chinese at every opportunity. He enjoys painting people, including people in motion, people feasting in fine clothes, and people living leisurely and alone. He fixes a certain moment of people in a specific situation, and that moment itself is narrative. When he wanders around art galleries, his eyes are always drawn to paintings about people, such as Hopper or Andy Warhol.
Unlike those artists who usually accumulate visual materials and are good at photography or sketching, Ona’s pictures are novel-like. He likes to paint fictitious images in his mind rather than copying real moments in life. His inspiration often comes from music. Or literature. “I did a painting of Miles Davis riding a horse, which was purely my imagination.”
The legendary musician Miles Davis was an outstanding conductor and performer in the history of American jazz music, but he later fell into drug abuse and bankruptcy, and struggled with difficulties. “Miles grew up in the green countryside of St. Louis. He could ride horses as a child. Later he came to New York and entered the Juilliard School and experienced difficult times.” Miles painted by Ona, Galloping horses in New York’s Central Park was the image in his mind, and painting was to create images that might not exist but that the artist firmly believed existed.
For Ona, painting was an unexpected success that brought him wealth and a completely different life experience, but it delayed his ideal of becoming a writer. Music, painting, reading, writing… He jumps between different fields like a grid-jumper, with a playful agility.
”What else do you want to draw next?”
”I want to write my novel within five years.”
”What kind of novel?”
”It’s definitely not an autobiography. I hope it’s the kind that Fitzgerald and Salinger would write. A novel. When the time comes, I will write it.”