Fresh off a show at 208 Bowery Gallery and with an exhibition at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s Gramercy Bistro, artist Dylan Rose Rheingold explains the process of painting people.
How would you describe your work? My style is mainly kind of a mixture of painting and drawing. Most of my paintings are on a larger scale, but they’re pretty much all mixed media. So what I tend to do is layer acrylic with other sorts of media like conte crayon or pastel and kind of got into the process of layering painting and drawing.
Why did you choose Planned Parenthood to support with your 208 Bowery Gallery show? Growing up, there was a Planned Parenthood near my house, and I remember being very scarred by the men who would stand outside of it with signs protesting it. And I think that kind of just ingrained this anger and curiosity since I was a little kid. So I just try and donate to them whenever I sell work.
Why did you want to do portraits specifically? I’m really interested in people, and I would definitely say I’m most interested in studying diversity. Most of my pieces tend to revolve around diversity or have elements of gender equality or social realism in them. So I started painting and drawing all these people I had taken photos of, and then from there it kind of spiraled into people I’d like to take photos of from certain settings or environments that were interesting to me.
Where did you get the photos? I really just started off going through my laptop and phone. And then there was this old bookstore in Syracuse that sold antique books, magazines and records. I would try to go there every week because they had a basket of old photos that people would sell off or old magazines for spare change. So as creepy as this sounds, I would go in and buy these antique photographs and magazines and just go through and cut things out and collage things and go off of these found photographs.
So you would know some of the people you were painting and not others? Yes. But no one in this series is a friend or a family. There’s no personal connection between one person, and it’s not publicly stated who anyone is. They’re just anonymous individuals.