From Here to Eternity:
Luckey Remington in Conversation
with Devendra Banhart

The following is a conversation between Devendra Banhart and Luckey Remington, photographed by Adam Tullie, during a one hour survey of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains while aboard the Aerial Tramline in Palm Springs California.

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DEVENDRA: Wow, we’ve got an hour to enjoy this extra terrestrial sky crawl! thanks for suggesting we do this here, Lux!



LUCKEY: Yes! This is something I’ve always been curious about. I think this place has been here since the ‘60s


DEVENDRA: Is this the height of bias?
 Perhaps!
 
Is this the apex of partisanship? Undoubtedly!

 

You see folks, not only have we worked (as professional musicians and amateur sashayers) together for about a decade, we’ve known each other for even longer, in fact since college, where we met at a party in a small northern California township…. he gave me a “who the fuck is this schmuk” sorta look  and the rest was a lasting partnership (we played music together for about a decade) and friendship that leads to us hovering above a mountain in an antique rust box 10,000 feet above sea level while I ask this:

 



DEVENDRA: Lux, having a composer’s background, is tonality and its relationship to color something you unconsciously draw upon while working?  Or, having the aforementioned  background, do you deliberately pull from it to create such visually harmonious work?

LUCKEY: Well possibly a little bit of both to tell you the truth. Much like in the way that I would create a musical composition I play around with different ideas and notes until something resonates with me and I’m compelled to explore it further, but at the same time it’s not some kind of synesthetic experience that I am trying to externalize either. I suppose much like a musical chord it is usually that third added tone that will give a chord some resolve, it hits your ear and body just right and wraps around you. I think that is a conscious effort that I am attempting with the color-field work that I create. I try to find two colors that shouldn’t work then I try to find a third to add to the first two that will give the composition some resolve.

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DEVENDRA: The individual pieces are tranquil, but the sheer amount of them is full of drive, almost to an unsettling degree, is the process a meditative, calming experience, or is it an obsessive, tense, chaotic one, or is it a combination of the two? Or none of the above?

LUCKEY: It always feels a bit chaotic when I’m caught up in something, trying to work out an idea and be resolute with an objective that just doesn’t seem to coalesce. I think to live with me would be as you say an unsettling experience, I don’t always know when to turn it off and I can have fits of compulsive behavior in regards to precision. I know my work gives people a sense that I am this placid guy but I think I am really quite the opposite, neurotic and impatient. A friend sarcastically said to me at my last show, “You know, people might mistake you for being happy after seeing this work.”

But at the end of the day it does give me some peace to stand back from what I’ve been working on, observe it and it is at that point that I can explore my relationship to what I’ve created and be at peace with myself and all is calm in the world again.


DEVENDRA: Dehydrated papaya, that’s what I snack on through the day, sometimes seaweed and dates, what do you, if anything, snack on through a workday at the studio?

LUCKEY: Usually a bag of tangerines and a bottle of mineral water, some Ito En Golden Oolong tea, probably some inari and gobo. When I grow tired of those items I will likely settle on some dried mangoes maybe a bag of walnuts. I really like this question actually and would love to know what all of my favorite people snack on. I, like a lot of people I’m sure, find artists studio life equally as fascinating as the work they produce. Seeing just a little glimpse into what they keep around them and how they work is alluring. You have always been a fascinating person to live with because there is such intent with all the items you keep around.

DEVENDRA: What is the location of your studio?  I know you are there almost all the time, but what times would work best for you to amuse and entertain any one who drops by after reading this? Also,  there has to be some sort of a password, it doesn’t have to be a verbal one, but it could also be that, whatever it is, what would it be?

LUCKEY: My studio is in Los Angeles in an area that is known as the Arts District. The best time to stop by would be early morning as my windows are east facing towards the LA river, the light is really great at this time and hopefully can distract you from the obscenely loud trucks that pass by at all hours of the day. I love gifts of Pau Santo and various baked goods.
Password: Champagne Supernova

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DEVENDRA: Does an avalanche of coital energy burst from every one of your nuclei every time someone uses the term Minimalism to describe your work or do you go “well, if you wanna call it that… i would say its more…” ? If the latter , elaborate…

LUCKEY: Well minimalism as it was conceived in the 60’s was a reactionary concept and an answer to abstract. I don’t see my work as reactionary or being birthed from some rebellious inspiration. But I embrace minimalism, it isn’t a term that makes me shudder. I think some of my work especially the sculptural pieces follow an aesthetic trend in interior design that could be called minimalism, in this context the work has a simplicity to space and color.

I like the term Inconsequential Infiniteness to describe my work, hopefully without sounding too dramatic. No wait that does sound dramatic.

DEVENDRA: I went to your show a couple days ago, it was afternoon and for a brief moment, roughly 20 minutes, I was alone in the gallery, just me and your work, and all I wanted to say, in fact I did say, was “hello” to each piece, I think that’s the sign of good work ,..Thoughts?

LUCKEY: Well engagement or interaction of any degree with the work is a success. Actually that is really the best reaction that I could hope for from someone, it means that each piece has a presence that you felt deserved an amount of respect. That is a very interesting approach though; I am going to try that myself.


DEVENDRA: Do you map out each construction via drawing, small scale, and working up to large scale/finished piece etc, or is it fully formed in your mind and then assembled accordingly?

LUCKEY: I almost always try and work out most ideas by creating small scale, working with the composition and color first typically working with paper and wood. I will sometimes create a massive body of small pieces, sometimes building an alarming number, possibly as many as 200-300 prototypes.

Lately though I have been trying to construct fully formed work without the added side effect of digressing from an original idea due to obsessing over small-scale work. What I end up with sometimes with all the small-scale work is just a lot of scrambled ideas that still has cohesion but is never fully realized. Although I do like the trail of evidence that is left behind, I find that prototypes will usually make more sense to me and have more of myself in the work. Like any working process though I’m always trying to fine tune it and be as efficient as possible.

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DEVENDRA: I have neither home nor studio at the moment, its a weary freedom but freedom nonetheless, needless to say I’m concerned with “The Basics”, lets delve into yours:
where and when were you born?  Did either of your parents’ vocations or extra-curricular activities contribute to your pursuing a career in the arts?

LUCKEY: I was born October 23, 1978 in Springfield Oregon. My parents were not necessarily creative types. I was raised in a blue-collar environment where creativity wasn’t treated as a necessity but more of a luxury that we as a family had no time and place for. My first introduction into the arts was joining the school symphonic band when I was 11-12 years old, it was there that I was set on a trajectory of music, and what later turned into a career in the arts. I definitely was not pushed into anything but always completely supported by my parents. I was just a latchkey kid growing up, who had plenty of free and unsupervised time to explore and mature. I’m sure that it was somewhere in that time that I developed the solitary nature and fear that I carry to this day, which I feel is and was essential to my development as an artist. So it was really an indirect contribution that my parents had on my development in the creative arts, they just let me be and didn’t really push in any direction and were too busy to smother. But no, I didn’t grow up with guitars and easels around the house.



DEVENDRA: Is your art funny? if so, whats so funny about it? if neither, can someone else make it funny? Has anyone laughed out loud while looking at your work? If so, were you flattered or offended?

LUCKEY: Haha, such a great question. I want to talk more about this with you off record, something tells me you have a good story here. I wish my work was funny, I think humor is the highest form of communication, to be able to make a clear and concise statement with a comedic point of view, brilliant. It takes a keen intellect to be humorous and to have the observation and mechanics for it. I think it is fairly easy to bring out feelings of happy, sad, envy or hate out of someone but to make them laugh is truly the pinnacle of art in my opinion. I’m not sure that my work can be made into something funny due to the lack of subject matter but I’m sure someone could. I think the work could be easily parodied and I could easily accept that and would be flattered by the attention.

You are one of the funniest people I know some of the funniest moments in my life involve you, but that is a discussion for another time.

DEVENDRA: What was the last book you truly enjoyed reading?

LUCKEY: The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr

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DEVENDRA: I stopped by your studio and noticed the works are growing in size and complexity, do you envision gigantic public sculptures, something to dwarf the mountains we are currently ascending? If so, what do you have against mountains?

LUCKEY: Oh yes I would truly love the opportunity to build public sculptures, let this just be an open offer to any municipality that would be so inclined to commission me. Its funny you ask that because I have found myself recently responding more and more to public sculptures, for some reason it is a form that had never caught my eye in the past but I have been envious of lately. There really are some great pieces of public art in Los Angeles, I was just the other day admiring the Peter Shelton sculptures outside of the LAPD station downtown, they work both as public art and also serve as a security barrier for the side of the building. I recently watched a documentary about mountain climbers in the Himalayas and how there is one summit that has a high mortality rate where 1 in every 4 climbers is killed. Yet people line up every year to do it. I think those people have something against mountains, just let the mountains win. I prefer our current mode of mountain climbing here in our tram, it’s a comfortable way to cheat death.

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DEVENDRA: Also, when I first saw your work, and still to this day, a little thought is ever present, and that thought is this: its a musical score! This is one song and each piece is an element of the totality of the score, each new shape a chord, each color combination a dynamic counterpoint to the previous riff, etc… of course, making objects that are meant to sit atop a piano is an overt allusion to this ….. care to elaborate?

LUCKEY: Yeah, well it is interesting that the work gets that response. I do see the connection myself now, and have played on the concept more and more and it has become a running theme in a lot of my work including my current exhibition of work Cause of Itself. But it is incredible, you know how just a simple touch of a single piano key can really be such a transformative thing, how it resonates and sustains can really change the energy of a room. There is a simplicity to it and I suppose the same could be said for my work, hopefully. The fields of solid monochromatic color can hopefully in their presence fill a room and change how you interact with the space and ideally how you may engage with others, purely with just their color, shape and composition.

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DEVENDRA: I tend to overcomplicate things, but thats not entirely true, you see, overcomplicate implies that what I’m overcomplicating was complicated to begin with … and it rarely, if ever,  is… agreed?

LUCKEY: I think this is a great place to stop. Agreed

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devendrabanhart.com

luckeyremington.com

adamtullie.com

photography by: Adam Tullie










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