AM Debrincat 'Hello Sunshine' exhibition • Saturday Afternoon

Visual Arts

AM DeBrincat’s collection ‘Hello Sunshine’

In her new collection the New York-based artist looks at what conventional techniques of figure painting means in the digital age.

by AM Debrincat & J.Scott Stratton
Artist info: Link

The first time I spoke with NY-based artist AM DeBrincat, it was regarding her ‘Hybrid Identities’ collection. Since then, we have been collaborating on various projects via email. It was all cordial and creative business between a couple of like-minded thinkers.

One of the things I love about Americans is that foreign environments put us in holiday mode. We gain this ability to talk to anyone about anything as if you’ve had a lifelong friendship.

This is what happened when I met Debrincat for the first time in person on the streets of Copenhagen. 

There was no awkwardness silences, no small talk. It was straight in there with conversations about art, travelling, politics, and life. We reconnected as if we were life long friends.

Before I get into AM Debrincat’s new collection of work. I must note that she has an infectious good nature, that it would difficult to be sour around. It shows in her work.

However, her work has a darker side in its conceptual background. It explores our global society’s obsession with self-image and the gradual entropy of our attention spans. In juxtaposition, the execution of her work is an explosion of colour.

AM Debrincat’s new collection is entitled ‘Hello Sunshine.’ And the reason I got to speak with her in person, as she was exhibiting it in Malmø. I took the opportunity to ask about the new collection and the evolution of her career in general.

AM Debrincat 'Hello Sunshine' exhibition • Triple Flavor
AM Debrincat • ‘Hello Sunshine’ exhibition • Triple Flavor

So tell me, is your new collection of work ‘Hello Sunshine’ an extension of your concept Hybrid Identities?

The paintings I’m showing in ‘Hello Sunshine’ are all mixed media paintings that explore the possibilities of figurative painting in the digital age. Each painting combines digital photography, a printmaking technique called Xerox transfer printing, and oil and acrylic painting.

I want each painting to be a visual puzzle of digital and analogue media. They portray the coldness of digital photography meets the warmth and sensuality of painting. So they are each a hybrid of digital and analogue media.

We didn’t get into this last time we spoke, but tell me about the process in which you create your work—from digital to analogue?

I like to follow the same necessary process to build each painting. Each painting usually has three mediums: oil paint, acrylic paint, and Xerox transfer printing. But my entire process involves more mediums than that.

Each piece starts on the computer. I have a massive archive of digital images. Many of them are my own photos and many that I’ve collected from online sources. I start by playing in Photoshop, combining up to 40 images into a single digital collage. This makes the basic “sketch” for the painting. This digital collage becomes my road map for the finished work.

I print out the digital collage in sections. Then use an old-school, DIY printmaking technique to transfer pieces of the digital image onto the surface of the canvas.

At this point, the image on my canvas is in black and white. Then I use acrylic paint to add colour to sections of the image. It is a technique similar to how people used to hand-tint old photos a century ago.

The last step is painting the face. I leave the faces blank canvas until the very end, and then I paint the faces with oil paint.

So back to the upcoming exhibition. Tell me about the concept of ‘Hello Sunshine.’

The delicious feeling of sitting in the sun inspired this work. I wanted to explore a joyful, relaxing theme. Offering us a moment of escape from the social, political, and environmental problems that so many of us are thinking about regularly.

‘Hello Sunshine’ is an exploration of escape. It’s an opportunity to feel the sun on our faces and enjoy a moment of tranquillity.

When I was creating these works, I kept thinking back to the simple delights of childhood. Remembering how easy it was to feel completely blissful enjoying an ice cream in the sun or seeing a beautiful flower or leaf.

In a way, ‘Hello Sunshine’ is a bit nostalgic for the simple-life. Everything becomes more complicated as we grow up. Those simple, joyful moments become more elusive.

AM Debrincat 'Hello Sunshine' exhibition • Plum Sleep
AM Debrincat • ‘Hello Sunshine’ exhibition • Plum Sleep

Did you create this collection of work specifically for this exhibition, or had you begun the process prior?

I created all the work in ‘Hello Sunshine’ for this exhibition at Lohme Art Gallery.

This is your first solo exhibition in Europe, tell me what that has been like?

It’s been great! The people are wonderful. It’s such a fantastic gallery, and that they invited me for a solo show is a great honour.

From here, what does the future hold for you in regards to your work?

I want to continue down this path I’m on. Exploring the place where our online and offline lives meet and merge. I want to continue playing with fitting digital and analogue media into a single painting.

That visual and conceptual puzzle of digital vs analogue continues to feel so relevant to our lives today, and I want to continue exploring it.

Each piece of work feels like a puzzle when I’m making it. There are digital (photography) and analogue (painting) elements. I need to fit them all together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into one image. But it’s not a seamless image. You can see the seams and where it doesn’t all quite fit together exactly right.

I think this idea of a multitude of images in one image is a little bit of a metaphor for how we absorb information in the digital age.

We are so inundated with so much data and so many images continuously. We experience everything all at once. News, social media, advertising, cat videos, anything and everything you can think of all at the same time.

In addition, the images don’t always fit neatly together. We piece them together in our minds like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Trying and make sense of the world and this massive amount of data we are regularly viewing. It’s never a seamless composition.

In a way, I’m mimic this process in a microcosm in each painting.