That moment when you come across an artist who strikes a completely different cord. Michael Alan and the art he creates will somehow leave you with a lingering feeling that a message has been received. A feeling of a story or even multiple stories, life, acting out right in front of you.
Since an early age Alan has explored a wide spectrum of styles, mastering various techniques and there is something gripping about the way he brings it all together. A visual language of his own making, free of the concept of time. Alan himself describes his process as a way of “translating energy into images”
Our attention is hooked and the timing is perfect, because he just opened his new solo exhibit ‘9 Lives’ at Tanja Grunert Gallery, in NYC.
Michael Alan is a multi-media artist, native New Yorker, who seamlessly moves between drawings/paintings, sculptures, live performances and his music [aka. Michael Alan Alien]. He is also the founder of ‘Living Installation’, transforming human beings into living art. He explores the world around him, no filters or false decorations. A line is a line, but this one cuts deep, embracing the light and the dark. Words that come to mind: Rawness of Life.
“My process is to document life and create new spaces, real spaces that exist in art. Life is an intangible space and I aim to put that into a piece of paper or canvas or on someone’s body, and then you have my version of truth. It all starts with my line, my signature adding paint and globs along the way, screaming I am alive! It is the continual DNA through my work.” Alan explains.
We grasped the opportunity to ask some question and taking a look at his new exhibit ‘9 Lives’. Rumors has it that many of the images were sold on the opening night. One of them to one of the biggest drawing collections in the world, on it’s way to major museums as we speak.
How would you describe what you do, in your own words?
In some ways you can say I am a journalist of energy. Since my life is consumed with documenting energy into the paper, canvas, wood and music I have become a vessel of taking what’s around and within me into the art work. A better reality then the reality of the worlds at war! I use my “art time” as meaningful moments. I can’t stand fake art, or fake talk, let’s live now and let everyone see.
Four years ago you broke your spine after being hit by a car, a long process of recovery. Only days before this exhibition you had an allergic reaction to pain medication and were rushed into hospital. How has this experience affected your life, work and perspective?
Honesty I’m close to healing but that thin line is quite horrid. I would say the worst part is the medications, ALL OF THEM, from the blood thinners, to injecting myself to the lovely bitter sweet morphine. I’m on my way via cab to another appointment to learn how to live with no medications. I have become a better artist, the first 2 years were a mess, and so be it. This is life.
Your solo exhibit ‘9 Lives’ just opened at Tanja Grunert Gallery, NYC. Tell us about what is going on there? and the story behind the title?
It’s quite a large gallery in Chelsea, maybe the same size of Pace, or Marlboro. Tanja is a world known art dealer, lover and in my eyes living work of wild art! There is no space in Chelsea the same! Fact! A whole story could just be on her!
My show ‘9 Lives’ is about living in pain, bad health and taking what I can and must to create groupings and bodies of work non stop. There are constant news on my health and I wanted to just put it on the line and live in this moment, hope to get better and live in this nine life.
You seem to naturally seek and explore new territories, push boundaries. What discoveries have your latest work unfolded?
Now as I type, to the right of me I am making a work about a skull, unlike a normal skull. Not all of us have a simple life or mind. This work is about a soul searching noodle skull, none is the same but yet all similar. The love of drawing allows anything to happen in a world of rules. In drawing we can freely say anything. It can be the understanding of clumsy pain, human ignorant pain.
Looking back at our lives we often find moments that somehow act like a catalyst for change in the way we live or what we create. Do your remember a moment like this?
Maybe everyday I try to accept the good, bad, middle grey, horrid, amazing all as the same or I can not make it to show these works and find the next image. Every second is that moment.
You used to have a NYC club in the 90’s, what was that place like?
O boy I did! That was due to the fact at 17 I was very popular with my drawings, kids my age were not drawing people. This club owner “Jerold Myers” was falling out of business and who grew kind to me, asked me to co-own the space. It was a great chance to make big money and get what I needed to move forward in art! Michael Alan’s play house! It was next to the ferry, 3 floors and we featured major rappers such as Group home, or Rob Bace to punk bands! And more…it really was crazy!
Top 3 things you cherish in your everyday life?
Friends, mom and dad, art.
Your art reflect a broad spectrum of energy. You once explained how you used to sit in McCarren Park, trying to read people’s energy and then draw or water color what you felt. Share some of your thoughts about this energy and what it means to you?
The paper is the energy reader. When you look at it you read energy subconsciously, this is how you react. Weather it’s FAKE to you or REAL living art! I don’t see many ways around this concept and that is why I make drawings about life, As an artists who works 15 hours daily, anything else would make no sense and just come out as gimmick.
What makes a piece you are working on finished?
It just is, you must know and feel! Sometimes it just gets taken and framed out of your studio by curation. This is a joke, but it is good to have people around you to see as well. What makes a lap of jogging done, you just went as far as you could and it DONE. Time / motives / intention / attack /practice / studio / edit.
Never forget about ‘here & now’… but dreams & futureTripping are fun to, anything special you crave?
Not now, I just want to be well. Together with family, friends and not overwhelmed. Maybe find more of a personal life!
A message to the kids / soon to be artists?
Kids be kids but study! No dugs!!!!! Don’t play too little, but also play when you work. Find a way to leave your mark and help others while helping yourself grow! Life is short! Live now!
Words by Anna Åhren
The exhibit ‘9 Lives’ is showing at Tanja Grunert Gallery, NYC, March 31st – April 30th
524 W 19th Street New York
For more info about Michael Alan, Living Installation and their upcoming “live art” event April 16th follow him on Facebook or Instagram @michaelalanalien. Special thanks go to his sponsor @sticker