Scott Listfield will be having his first solo show at Stolenspace Gallery London titled “An American Astronaut in London”. I got lucky and was able to do a quick interview with him about his upcoming show.
Words by Crist Espiritu.
Artworks by Scott Listfield.
Tell us a bit about the title of your latest solo exhibition, “An American Astronaut in London”. What is it about?
Well I’ve been painting the titular astronaut now for quite some time. In the works in this show, my first solo show in London, the astronaut explores scenes from an empty London, strangely stuck in time in the mid 1990’s. It’s unclear if the city has been abandoned for two decades, or if this is some alternate world where 90’s British culture has become weirdly eternal. For me, as an American, it allowed me to think back to a time when I was a young artist and still figuring out who I was, and what I wanted to make paintings of. Music, movies, and pop culture from the UK were hugely influential for me at the time, and helped me start to think of a larger world beyond the confines of the culture I grew up in. I spent some time in the late 90’s wandering around Europe, and that feeling of exploration, wonder, and cultural disconnect strongly influenced these astronaut paintings I started to make a few years later. IT felt kind of natural to dive back into those influences for this show.
What would you say is this show’s most significant difference from your last shows?
This show has a very distinct sense of place. In most of my shows, the astronaut explores a number of different environments, some specific, some less so. I really wanted this show to be centered in and around London. All of my work has an astronaut in it, and I don’t think it’s a huge leap for people to look at them and piece together how they work together to tell a story. But I think these paintings are linked together in a way that makes them kind of unique from other shows I’ve done.
What is your favorite piece that you’re excited about?
Oh, I’m not allowed to have a favorite. They’re all equal in my book.
What is the significance of the astronaut? What does he symbolize?
I spent my childhood mostly watching cartoons about the far off year 2001, daydreaming about what kind of flying car my robot best friend and I would travel around in when I grew up. When I actually reached adulthood, I found myself in the world’s fourth smallest studio apartment, cooking single serve pizzas on a hot plate, and watching telenovelas at the local laundromat as my jeans spin dried. I had spent some time in school traveling, and now that I was back home, and working a mundane job, the world still felt strange and foreign to me. I wanted to make a series of paintings about these feelings of alienation and exploration, and I wanted to have a protagonist who would appear in each one. Around this time I watched the Stanley Kubrick film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey” for the first time and I realized that the astronaut from the fictional 2001, the one I thought we’d be living in, would be the ideal character to have explore the strange, mundane, and occasionally beautiful 21st century we’ve actually built for ourselves.
So you’re a fan of 90’s Brit pop. That’s cool. Who do you like better, Suede or Pulp?
Sorry, Suede, you’re great but I have to go with Pulp. I remember listening to them in the 90’s and thinking “Holy crap! You can make songs about this?”
“An American Astronaut in London” will have an opening reception on Thursday, May 5, 2016. And the show will run from May 6 to May 29.
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