Theo Rosenblum is a New York-based artist who was educated at Cooper Union School of Art. He has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. His work is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Saskatchewan and has been included in: A Better History, a group show of both emerging and established artists at the American Standard Gallery in New York, NY (2009); Invasions, a group show of young New York artists at 7Eleven Gallery in New York, NY (2008), and The Zine Unbound: Kults, Werewolves and Sarcastic Hippies, which highlighted the growing trend of collaborative artist activity in visual art, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA (2005). The Crypt was lucky enough for Theo to spare some time and answer some questions on his more recent exhibitions and the collaboration shows that he and his wife Chelsea have produced. The work these two produce is insanely brilliant each with a hidden message and unique style, but we will let you decide what you think!
1. You were schooled at the Cooper Union School of Art, how did your experiences here shape the work you do now?
First of all, let me say that I don’t believe in art school. I don’t think you need any education to be an artist, and in art school, if one is susceptible, it becomes making art by committee. I believe that art should come from individuals, not a bunch of teachers and peers telling students how to create something. That being said, I had some excellent teachers at school, but I learned the most in the shop, from the shop techs. I became confident in my ability to make something there.
2. Your 2010 exhibition ‘Raw Deal’ was your second solo endeavour into an enchanted forest of kitsch, craft and the adolescent mind. The amount of detail that goes into your work is baffling; the prophetic ‘King Carrot’ is testament to this, what is your work process? How long did amazing piece take to make? Are there any hidden meanings for this seemingly innocuous carrot?
To be honest this piece was one of the faster pieces to make for the show. I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but I would say less than a month. For that show I envisioned something of a forest, and I was thinking a lot about stumps and I wanted to make a chair carved out of a tree. If I was a different person, I would have just gotten a tree and carved a chair out of it, but time and budget and aesthetic didn’t allow for it. Once I had that idea in mind the chair seemed a bit empty on it’s own, so it needed a sitter. My pet carrot modeled for me and there you have “King Carrot”.
3. Also the sculpture ‘Raw Deal’ screams metaphorical similarities to the work of Robert Hawkins, projecting the cycle of birth, death and possibly regeneration. I would love to know the inspiration behind this piece?
In a nutshell that’s pretty much it. I just wanted to take that idea of the life cycle and the tree of knowledge and just take it as far as I could in that one piece, throwing as much as I could into it. I am a big fan of Robert Hawkins, so any comparison to his work I take as a compliment.
4. Your exhibition at the Hole Gallery in New York, which was a wonderfully strange, collaboration with your wife Chelsea Seltzer. I heard a story somewhere that you began working together after a run in with a Nigerian who had a bit of a distaste for Greece. Is this true? How did this run in fuelling your working relationship?
We had drawn a bunch and even painted together some before we met the Nigerian man who was selling prints on a Greek island, and probably would have come up with similar work in the show regardless of the great images we bought from him. I guess he just got us on the path to our show slightly faster.
5. It was one of the most interesting exhibitions, I was fortunate to be able to see it. I loved the mix of intricately large sculptures, right to the irreverent sketches where the ideas where born. What made you and Chelsea turn these sketches, like the one on the homophone for ‘Sandwitch’ and then turn them into full sized sculptures?
With our collaborative drawings, some things just lend themselves to be developed further into sculptures, some found their way into paintings and some were just happy to be drawings. Drawing with Chelsea is always stimulating and a good place for us to steal each others ideas.
6.Your show I noticed had a preoccupation with food, penises poking out of fast food paper bags, a slobbing mutt stealing pizza, Quacked, (huge piece of Bacon and Eggs) and most impressively sculpture of the huge frosted pink doughnut. Was it a conscious decision to have so much focus on food? If so why?
We both like to eat and cook a lot, so I think food is always in there somewhere. Eating is something most people do, so it’s a good way to have people immediately relate to a piece and then you can feed them something else once they’re interested.
7. You and Chelsea also take a shot at religion, through ‘Mothership’ (2011) which was a large-scale sculpture that was a ceramic portrait of Mother Theresa holding a baby emerging from a flying saucer. It is a crazy piece, what were you and Chelsea aiming to achieve and convey with this?
We both have kind of a double edged sword of repulsion and complete fascination in terms of religion. We wanted that piece to have an overlap of the natural, supernatural and spiritual, all tied together with the creepy mass produced bust of mother Theresa. We’ve been working on new collaborative work that tackles similar themes.
8. The exhibition received some great praise from critics and your colleagues, did you expect it to take off the way it did?
We expected more praise.
9. You and Chelsea have recently just had some of the work you produced with Chelsea in BOMB magazine (A magazine I actually just interning for), featuring in the BOMB Specific section. These pictures are insanely and ridiculous cool, where did these images come from and how come these images where chosen?
We bought the images of ladies from an antique store upstate a while ago. BOMB wanted us to do something for a summer issue, and we thought the ladies had a good summer/calender appeal, so we worked over them with paint and collage.
10. How did this relationship between you guys and BOMB, spark to life?
The folks at BOMB liked our show and got in contact with us.
11. Have you got any more solo or partnered exhibitions coming up?
I have a solo show coming up this fall, and Chelsea and I are working towards the next collaborative show.