Like a shot of espresso at four in the afternoon, this week’s cover, titled “Slug Trails and Guard Rails off the 405,” provides a necessary mid-winter jolt. Artist Eddie Rehm’s unrestrained expression is energetic and rebellious—it borders frenzy and chaos—and yet remains balanced in an underlying structural composition. Recently returning from Los Angeles and the LA Art Show, the artist talks about the mystery behind his work.
When did you do this one?
This particular piece was the first one I did in LA, about a year back. It came about when I was just out there on vacation, doing my thing and taking it all in—the art scene, the atmosphere—just being very observant. Around the 405, there was this seedy area. Seedy, but enticing.
Sometimes seedy provides more material.
Exactly. The oil starts gearing up.
So your studio and home are back East?
Yes—I’m based out of Long Island, originally from Patchogue, Medford really. Our art studio and house was taken out completely by [Superstorm] Sandy. From there, a lot of business occurred, so it became very positive. To see something you consider to be your own sanctuary go is kind of monumental—I’m in that revamping and rebuilding process now. I just recently got a new studio back, which should be ready by mid-February. I already have collectors who want to come by, so it’s still positive.
How did you first get into art?
It’s funny, my first ambition was to be a hockey player. Things happen, and it didn’t work out. Art came in second and I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. I took some classes, did a lot of reading up on my own, studying art history and different compositions. Then I just used the training that I had. In the past six years it’s been all I do. It’s all consuming.
What are some of these images in “Slug Trails and Guard Rails off the 405?”
A lot of it stems from us as a society, and that deep iconography that connects us all. Each person is interpreted in a certain sense—I’m definitely trying to tell a story underneath. In this one, I’d been getting into the idea of relationships and love, whether it’s at any point into it. For myself at that time I wasn’t too sure where I was—that kind of lead to the idea of grass is greener on the other side. I guess other iconography in this piece has to do with facets of communication through interpretation, as well as inside jokes between friends over the years. Casual, sexual, a guy’s interpretation of being in a place you’ve never been before. Take the New York landscape and a California one—we’ve got traffic over here, they’ve got it over there, too, in a different way.
It was actually done on bed sheets covered with industrial plastic—giving that façade that we put on, putting our best foot forward, presenting ourselves in certain situations. It’s also about the introverted vs. extroverted look into oneself, or even myself.
And you use paint on top of the plastic?
I use all different types of media—whatever gets the point across the strongest. Yellow pastel is not the same as yellow acrylic, so I experiment with different stuff and use whatever comes closest to what I’m trying to express.
How would you define your style?
I would definitely say expressionism—and a combination of Ab-, Neo-, and Raw and Gritty. There’s a fine art street appeal.
Who are some of the artists you most admire?
Too many to list. But what I really like most about the artists that I do like is their story. You can really get a better feel of their work…understand who they are.
That’s often the part that’s invisible.
But so necessary!
To see more of Eddie Rehm’s artwork, email the artist at email@example.com.