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Monday, November 10, 2008

Terence Koh Revealed

When he's not plating shit in gold, splattering his semen on canvas or just carousing around, art-world bad boy Terence Koh likes to read French poetry and, well, carouse around. He opened up to Hint on the eve of Flowers for Baudelaire, a show of new (and his first) paintings at the former New York studio of Richard Avedon, presented by Vito Schnabel and France's First Brother Olivier Sarkozy. By Aric Chen

So what is Flowers for Baudelaire all about? Are there "flowers of evil" to be found here?
They're just a series of readymade canvases covered in corn syrup and then dusted with powdered sugar—the easiest paintings I can think of to make. I felt we needed something sweet for our moment right now in history. And yes, each painting is a flower. Each painting is evil. Each painting is a star in a universe. Making them was like making a Zen rock garden. Just raking sugar. Simple evil.

The show is at the former studio of Richard Avedon, famous for its cyclorama. Why there?
It's all about how Richard Avedon would see himself in a mirror. What would he do? Each painting is the eye of Richard Avedon. Not the black iris, just the white parts of the eyeball.

What's the Vito Schnabel connection?
We met through Stella Schnabel, his sister, who I met through Dash [Snow]. Everybody just meets everyone in New York if you have the will to make something in this city. We are kinda seeing each other, even though he's 100% straight and I have a boyfriend. We are like brothers, but without the guilt of genetics bearing down on us. We've known each other for more than two years and dating off and on for about a year now. We watch a lot of romantic movies together and he brings me to basketball games. I only go shopping with Stella, though. Vito doesn't really like to shop much, though I bought him a Juicy Couture sweater last week.

How is asianpunkboy [Koh's former alias], by the way?
He is my best friend. We have drinks at least once a week—Johnnie Walker Black Label on the rocks.

So what's next for you?
I hope to take the whole of next year off and do nothing, like go to Jamaica and rent a nice bungalow with all the modern amenities, except no TV and Internet. And just sit and read and go swimming and fishing in the sea, pick pretty seashells by the beach and read nothing but Marcel Proust.

—Aric Chen

Flowers for Baudelaire, November 13 - January 2009, 407 East 75th Street

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