The man who put Sacha Baron Cohen in the iconic flouriest Mankini (Borat), glistening sweatpants (Ali G) and bondage fetish gear (Bruno), has some new clients including Ms. Mona Lisa and a Laughing Cavalier. In an oil-based art show opening on Monday (September 27th) at the Guy Hepner Gallery in West Hollywood, Jason Alper has improved the classics in order to encapsulate the "Proletarian Drift and the Enfranchisement of the Bourgeoisie in the 21st Century," as the title of the show has it. In other words, the soon to be foreclosed upon mega-mansions of the Real Housewives can reach new heights of customization where the walk-in closet matches the living room wall decorations.
I caught up with Mr. Alper over email earlier today...
How do you define yourself these days?
I'm a satirist: whether it's, costume design, sculpture, oil paintings or photography, they are all under the same umbrella. I always try to be as original as possible. What Joe Francis has done for spring break, I'm doing for the art world.
What's your inspiration?
Bob Ross, Tony Hart and Rolf Harris have always been my favorite 20th century painters. They each exposed themselves to me at an early age -- something I never forgot.
How do you draw on your past experiences?
As a child I was lucky enough to have a Canaletto at home, my Nan had a Caravaggio and my aunt had a Gainsbrough. These images have stayed with me for 42 years. So much, that I've featured these artists in my latest show.
Who is your audience?
Children seem to like my work, maybe because my work has a glossy look. In all of my work, I try to create things that everyone can relate to. Children are easier to lie to than adults. They think these are the originals. Why should I shatter the illusion?
As an artist, how do you reach out to the public?
Guerilla marketing works incredibly well. My last show, "It's All Back On", had a poster campaign all over L.A. that can still be seen almost 6 months later. There's a new poster for Saturday's show. I've used the Mona Lisa image and sprayed "CHAV" across it. This really works, especially in a town like L.A., where so much time is spent sitting in traffic and looking out of the window. I suppose I should work out twitter some day.
How do you want your art to be used?
It's simple, I'd like it on people's walls. I'm not splitting the atom. I can't see the point of being an artist if you're not commercial. I've always been lucky enough to have a great platform for my work. I'm a capitalist at heart who wants his work to be seen by as many people as possible.
Is the medium the message?
Yes it is, since oil has received so much bad press lately, I felt that I was time to do something positive with it and create slick oils rather than oil slicks.
What drew you to such political art?
When you live in a world where Sarah Palin's views are taken seriously, anything is surely possible.
Who's your biggest fan?
I think it sounds slightly egotistical answering this question but someone told me that Michelle Obama tweeted about me yesterday. Just sayin'...