FEATURE///AN INTERVIEW WITH ROSTARR

October 16, 2008  |  Dr Romanelli, Feature, Interview, Miami

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Following the opening of ROSTARR's retrospective "Wreckless Abandon" exhibition at Miami's newly-inaugurated O.H.W.O.W.GALLERY on October 11, Supertouch's own DARREN "DR" ROMANELLI (aka: DRx) caught up with the nomadic artist to get the real story on the last ten years of artwork that constitutes the show and a look at what's on his horizon in 2009. HAVE A LOOK:

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DR: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I’m sure things are hectic now getting ready for the exhibition.
ROSTARR: It’s my pleasure DRx. Anything for you and the Supertouch fam.

Cool, so we’ll start out by getting some personal information from you. It might get a little personal, maybe even sexual. I just wanted to make sure you’re ok with that?
Ha ha, no way man. Are you for real?

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Yeah man, so what was your first sexual experience like?
Oh, no. No way, for real?

Ha ha, no man, let’s get this interview going. So tell me a little bit about yourself. Let’s start with the easy stuff. Name and background?
Well, my name is Romon Kimin Yang aka Rostarr and I live in Brooklyn, New York.

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So what’s your background?
I was born in Korea and came to America when I was one year old. Originally, my family moved to Washington DC but I moved to New York in 1989 to go to art school. I started out studying graphic design and printmaking at SVA. I was always into drawing and painting as a child, but I never took it seriously until I got to NY. After I graduated from school, I started pushing towards making my art. I was working in New York right away and began that struggle between painting and making money to live, the good ol’ days. I’ve been dedicated exclusively to painting for the last 12 years, though.

Tell me a little bit about your painting style?
I’m Clement Greenberg’s worst nightmare! Take pieces and bits of the abstract expressionist movement, add some free-formed iconography and lots of love and deep feelings, and voila you have the basic ingredients to my milkshake. I see my paintings as something that’s been injected with a lot of energy yet flat and 2-D. I love painting with a sense of freedom and letting the work evolve organically. It’s not preconceived, it’s really off the top of my head and building on what I’m feeling at the moment. Living in the “Now.”

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What have you been up to this last year?
This year’s been really amazing. It started with “The New Grand Tour,” which consisted of Suitman, Jose Parla, Deanne Cheuk, Davi Russo and myself. It was an amazing spiritual experience for me as an artist and individual. I started doing a lot of work based on the themes and visual imagery I saw there. Not necessarily in style but in terms of color, mood and geometry in the auspicious symbols of Tibetan art. I had a two-man show in London with Doze Green in the summer. After that I went to Seoul, Korea and painted a massive 30 x 60 foot mural that was the biggest painting I’ve ever done, in six day’s time, this was at the Nam June Paik Art Center. I was really honored to be invited to be part of the inaugural show for this important museum in Korea. It was also a big feat for me to able to paint something so big in such a short amount of time.

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Congrats on that piece. That picture I saw of it was incredible.
Thank you. I’ve also been working on a video that’s going to be exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Fall 2009. It’s called “Kill The Ego.” As soon as I get back from Miami I’m going to jump straight into making the second part of this video. It’s going to be 45 minutes long, shot in HD, 5pt. sound. It’s going to be amazing when completed. I’m really excited about this project.

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So let’s dive into “Wreckless Abandon,” is this the largest solo exhibition you’ve had to date.
Yeah, the space is over 4,000 square feet. I can’t say it’s the biggest show I’ve been involved in but at the same time it’s definitely the largest showcase of my work. I believe there’s going to be about 100 works on display. You’re going to see more than 10 years of my work and the progression of the different styles and elements that I’ve brought into my work over the years.

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How did the exhibition at O.H.W.O.W. come about?
I met Al Moran through José Parlá. They did a show together for Art Basel two years ago. Al had been a fan and collector of my work as well. He’s a pretty big collector of artwork and he collects a lot of the artists I know. He wanted to show more love for what he was doing and decided to open an exhibition space and take things to the next level. I’m the first person to show with him, it’s definitely an honor to work with him and break the bottle on the ship and send it off on its way.

What’s the inspiration behind the show’s title?
There is this one quote from the Dalai Lama that stuck with me since the day I discovered it in 1996: “always approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.” I kind of related it to the way I developed my art over years: mastering one style and jumping to another one but approaching every challenge without hesitation. I’ve always tried to push my abilities. I never wanted to get stuck in any one thing or in any one style.

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Can you walk me through the exhibition a little bit. What can people expect?
The space is comprised of two spaces that are about 2,000 square feet each. One room I’m referring to as the history room where I’m showing selected groupings of work from my past. There’s also a video room that will be showing the first half of the Kill The Ego film. In the main room there will be only new and recent works. This room will also house the large scale installation on wood that’s about 22 x 12 feet that I’m painting just for the this exhibit. The viewer will be able to experience the evolution of my work and go down the creative path to the now with me. It’s definitely the widest range of my work that I’ve even seen up at the same time.

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I know a book is being produced to coincide with the exhibition. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
We’re producing a monograph for the show. It’s roughly an 80-page book focusing on the newer works in the show as well as some historical moments in my life of creating, my travels and inspirations over the years.

I’m excited to see that,. What does 2009 have in store for you?
Well I have the Centre Pompidou in the Fall where I’m showing “Kill The Ego.” I’m also doing a show in Genova, Italy at Il Trifoglionero gallery in March, as well as a solo show in London at Stolen Space in June. I have a few other things happening which I can’t think of off the top of my head now, just too many things going on.

Sounds like 2009 is going to be another stellar year for you. One last thing, I heard that you have a large collection of Dr. Romanelli jackets in your closet?
Ha ha, I got one for every day of the week and an extra one for the winter!

Thanks for your time Ro. The exhibition sounds amazing. As you know, I’ve been a big fan of your work for some time now and I’m excited that people are going to get to see your work on this level. Much love…

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