Aaron Young

Jun 15, 2015 · 2 min read

The mixed media artist with a rock-n-roll spirit.

Tumbleweed, 2009 (Mutual Art)

Aaron Young has warned viewers.

Whether spray painting “LOCALS ONLY!” onto bronze rocks or crushing and mangling 24 karat gold plated steel fences, Young uses his art to examine American culture, conflating its images of rebellion with an elevated, artistic discourse.

Thus, his works balance aggressivity with a poetic artistry to arrive at a new experience of familiar, urban images.

For example, Young recorded one video series as he kicked a camera along the ground in various locations until the device disintegrated. The video turns the violence of the kicking action into a continuous visual poetry — a new way of experiencing familiar locations.

Disintegration or a the implementation of loss is another common theme in Young’s pieces, poignantly described by filmmaker Matt Black, who has worked with Young, as:

“a pure exploration of America and masculinity — minimalism on steroids.”

This process of removal to ultimately create was exemplified in Young’s well known “Greeting Card” performance piece, in which drivers rode motorcycles over a large, black plywood surface to reveal the layers of fluorescent paint beneath the black facade.

A photo from Young’s “Greeting Card” performance (Park Avenue Armory)

The sound, smell and smoke of Young’s performance purposefully overwhelms his audience’s senses, until there is nothing left but the large, gestural painting which the motorcycles’ tires create.

“I like the aggressiveness but I also like that it has a kind of flowing, seamless poetry to it at the same time. And that kind of grinding up against each other is what I try to pull out from the work,” — Aaron Young

Aaron Young interview with Nowness

Young lives and works in New York City. He received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a MFA from Yale University. He has had solo exhibits at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, Kukje Gallery in Seoul, The Company in Los Angeles, Galerie Amine Rech in Paris, and the Gagosian Galleries in both Beverly Hills and Moscow. His work has also been exhibited at MOCA in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Gagosian Gallery in London and Marian Goodman in Paris.

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This post was written with the help of Alice Mahoney.

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