Depth, Colors and Exuberance: In the Studio with Assume Vivid Astro Focus
The minute I first saw Assume Vivid Astro Focus’s (AVAF) art in show in Long Island City organized by Deitch Projects in 2008, I fell for it. And after, when I met Eli Sudbrack, the Brazilian half of AVAF, I loved the whole thing even more. Eli, like a true Rio de Janeiro native, is generous, fun, warm and loving - and I’m lucky to call him a friend.
Full disclosure: I own many AVAF pieces in my collection and could continue adding unstoppably. I'm always enthralled by AVAF’s vibrant and original art. Everything they put out there is truly mesmerizing without losing its deeper layer of meaning. I had visited Eli’s previous studio, which I featured in my book and now, I was elated to visit his brand new studio in Ridgewood. The space is full of objects and my eyes happily cannot rest. Eli is an observant and his art gets inspiration from the world outside and his immediate surroundings: Gaetano Pesce vases, carnivalesque objects, party favors and interesting masks (no wonder I love AVAF’s art so much as it seems like we have so much in common).
Eli and his collaborator, Christophe Hamaide Pierson, have explored a variety of topics including citizenship and nationality, politics, gender roles and sexuality. Transvestites in particular, have been near and dear to AVAF’s heart. The so- called the "Cyclopes Trannies", where post-op they show exaggerated features, big lips, glossy eyes, giant lashes are consistently shown in several of their pieces.
I love the versatility of AVAF but find so important that no matter what they put out there in the world, somehow their work is identifiable. For example, they have done pretty interesting collaborations throughout their career together with brands such as Comme des Garçons, Melissa Shoes (for which they not only designed some special edition flip flops and plastic shoes but also an entire installation complete with large neon sculptures), Le Sportsac and of course Lady Gaga, which turned out to be such a great success after the pop-up workshop opened at Barneys in December 2011. In each of them, I can see the AVAF style, taking over.
In the past couple of years, AVAF has created artworks that tend to gravitate toward a combination of black, white and red, including large-scale paintings on wood panels, functional tables, mixed media pieces, photography, wallpaper and installations. For the next round and in preparation for their solo show in May with The Suzanne Geiss Company, the three colors have mutated into a rainbow that incorporates all the imaginable hues in their most saturated versions. And I can’t wait to see in full splendor, what I had the great opportunity to spy on my visit last month.