Black coffee in a plastic cup that Andrew Birk served me in his studio at Johnson Avenue reached the perfect temperature to start being sipped and I just reached a peace agreement with my perfectionist self that this week’s Tuesday Person, Andrew Birk, will be photographed with an iPhone, instead of my regular bulky Canon 5D.
Andrew, a Bushwick painter, just lit up his cigarette and took a sip of his coffee as well. Noticeably hype on caffeine, he is jumping around, trying to show me everything at once: from a number of paintings to the music he likes and to his hand-made maisonette. Luckily, my coffee is starting to kick in nicely and I am able to follow Andrew’s speed.
Andrew, still holding his plastic cup, is just running up the stairs while explaining that virtually all of his paycheck from an art supply store goes to pay the rent for this studio. He doesn’t buy much food and runs on coffee instead. Andrew likes this deal.
We were both sitting on the chairs on the wooden maisonette, and Andrew is playing with the volume button of his stereo. “My friends and I make this music. This is my voice, I am talking about wanting to have sex with girls.” Andrew comments on the music that is playing in his studio. “Are you offended?” he asks and I have to laugh because I am actually impressed.
Andrew is excited that I am taking photos with an iPhone. He says that he hates those ‘beautiful’ overly fabricated photos in the magazines. He loves noise and red eyes and is the biggest fan of amateur Facebook photos where everyone looks a bit dorky. “Yeah, it’s perfect. It actually works way better with what I am trying to make here. Like those paintings.” He points to a number of paintings lying on the floor. “I am trying to make as many as possible. Without thinking about what I’m doing. ” He says he’s trying to awaken the primitive inside of him, that monkey who, despite all the techniques he learned at art school, paints instinctively. Andrew is aware of the temporariness of these paintings and wants to make so many that they would cover the entire floor and people coming to his studio will have no other choice but to walk on them and destroy them.
I’m assigning my brain homework: Take ugly pictures! Forget crispiness, vibrant colors or aperture. This is iPhone 2 in action. Bring on the noise!
Andrew is telling me about this kid from California he likes, Lil B, and is asking me if I know him. I don’t and so he goes on: This kid makes a lot of music and uploads it to the Internet almost every day. Some of his stuff is pretty bad, but some things are great and Andrew generally likes this creative approach. Becoming a monkey, that’s a life-long mission.