The clicking of tweets, texts and instagrams echo in the outside air. Textured conversations of expressionism and art deco ring from inside. Maybe I had too much free red wine, maybe not enough, but watching Julian Rapp’s party unfold from a golden beanbag chair in the serene, ivy soaked backyard left me in a daze.
Julian calls himself a “colorist,” but putting this man’s art into a genre would be like making watermelons square – there’s just no reason for it. If I had to, I’d call it ambition mixed with imagination and a dash of red. And lots of robots.
In the Openhouse Soho art space, the minimalist white walls pop with Julian’s primary colors. While his “Skull on Gold Background” stares me down from wherever I stand, I can’t escape the faint smell of the lit Tiki Torches from the outdoor patio. From the cubist and aggressive “Two Heads,” to his Picasso inspired, well, “Yo! Picasso,” Julian’s work jumps across generations of style and icononography.
Julian himself is a surprisingly unassuming character. You’d think that the brain behind the socially charged “Headache” would be an animated and larger than life personality. Instead, Julian, a skinny and scruffy young guy swimming in his off-grey button down is soft spoken and friendly-as-hell.
I had the chance to speak with the artist himself last night, so here it is in the man’s own words.
Broke Ass Stuart: How has your response been since the gallery opening?
Julian: People seem to love it. The color is refreshing to people. There are a lot of black and white galleries out there and it’s just not doing it for people anymore. My stuff is more accessible. It’s not pretentious; you don’t have to know about art to know what the images are.
Broke Ass Stuart: As an artist, what’s the best thing about not being rich – at least not yet?
Julian: It keeps you on your game. If you’re comfortable, you don’t have the need or the drive. You don’t have to make it happen. I have to hang my work, I have to convince people to buy it. Hey man, I have to pay my rent. But if you have that money it takes away your drive a little bit.
Broke Ass Stuart: What words of wisdom do you have for the starving artist trying to make it out there?
Julian: Be proactive. Don’t be shy or bashful. You have to go out and show off your work as much as possible. Hustle what you can, one at a time. Go to the coffee shops, go to the shows and keep your head up. Most important, paint as much as possible. The more you paint, the better the paintings. Simple as that. You have to be persistent and don’t get down on yourself.
The plastic cups of California’s cheapest reminded me why I came to this damn city in the first place. Art, culture and real human interaction cost us nothing, fellow broke-asses. Embrace it.
Photo Credit: Simon Mullin