Last time we met Gordon Holden he was introducing us to his series People Holding Things. A project that really is as simple as it sounds. “It was just something I noticed after going through all of my photos, I noticed a lot of people holding things,” he told us in 2013. Yet the artist is anything but basic. “Complexity is easy. Anybody can make something complicated. It’s hard to make something simple,” he tells us over email, as we talk about his latest projects. Holding down a broad range of work, from t-shirt design to installation, the artist's latest show, Wishful Thinking, is now on display at LA’s Paul Loya gallery. Creating a series of 10 paintings for the occasion, Holden's tool of choice was lit birthday candles – dripping wax and burning holes into the acrylic-coated canvases. Elsewhere, fruit trees are decorated with furs and pleather. "Wishful Thinking is about looking for yourself outside of yourself,” he explains. It’s a continuation of the Connecticut-born artist's previous work which has seen him toy with everything from the pizza box to a Blackberry in his signature reappropriation of American pop cultural symbols. We speak to him about living in America, pop culture and what's next.
How has your growing up in America inspired your work?
Gordon Holden: I suppose my work is a product of what I was/am exposed to. A collection of thoughts that can be loosely based around the ingrained emphasis on success in America. Popular culture = popularity = success = imitation popular culture = reality tv = everyone is popular = no one is popular = time travel. and because of that, everything has, in one way or another, become a part of some sort of dialogue towards a more common culture.
You love pop culture – would your work be the same if you grew up elsewhere?
Gordon Holden: Maybe. I would probably speak a different language. I would probably know about America, and probably be influenced by some things that weren't American. But I think it's safe to say that there are many variables and influences outside of where you grow up that would make the work different.
What does working in the digital realm give us that working in real life doesn't?
Gordon Holden: It's accessible and compact. Because of those keywords, that means a lot more people create digital content. Making it an era of cultural oversaturation. I enjoy using digital in a way to see things and point them out in a kind of socio-visual connect the dots, but who knows what power or value it has outside of that.
Could you tell us a bit more about the two sides of your website? Why are there two entry points?
Gordon Holden: I've realised since the beginning of creating and sharing something that there are going to be two sides to it all. Often times those two things are not separated, and I wanted to display that fork in the road to make it a little more apparent. The difference between the two entry points is that one is older work and one is newer.
Do you take inspiration from anyone, as an artist?
Gordon Holden: You could say everyone/everything has the potential to inspire. One day it's William S. Burroughs, the next day it's a tree. It more or less comes down to timing.
What's next for you?
Gordon Holden: I'm working on a photo book that is based around a ongoing internet performance, and some other things.
Wishful Thinking runs until 2 May, 2015 at LA’s Paul Loya gallery