MAT GLEASON, LOS ANGELES, CA — Michael Arata embraces the abject with the pleasant sentimentality of a proud uncle. The subjects that most people would cringe from and few artists would ever consider are his preferred topics. Be it photographing his own daily bowel movements or diligently painting portraits of convicted child molesters, Arata is an earnest, hard-working artist whose monastic studio practice makes the unpleasant ordinary. Unlike shock artists who mine such territory for its PR value, Michael creates with no hype in mind; he seems guided by a determination to make the reviled into something ordinary. Most Los Angeles artists give lip service to the late Mike Kelley. While emulating the slacker aesthetic of Kelley’s work, few artists seek the anti-sublime affect that it had on viewers. Arata is heir to that legacy of using simple, mundane materials to make the ickier things in life a central subject in art. The reactions viewers have had to his work vary — some collectors purchase it, others experience a reflexive vomit response. While he may not be the first artist to ever explore the theme of beastiality, he certainly found an original theme in adding the sainthood of deflowered sheep. In an art world glut of conflating high fashion with fine art, Arata examined the negative space in between the arms and legs of the supermodel and made spooky sculptures to be mounted for a couture pose. The possibilities are infinite — if it makes you recoil in shame, horror or disgust, Michael Arata is working on it in his studio to compelling results. For more info on Eric Minh Swenson or project inquiries visit his website :www.thuvanarts.com ART FILM SERIES: www.thuvanarts.com/take1
The Awkward Hour travels to LA to visit artist Michael Arata in his studio.