Aerosyn Lex: “Art Is Not an Easy Business at All.”
Why does it make such perfect sense that the man Kanye West would pick to be his one-time creative director makes his own brushes out of wolves hair?
Artist and designer Aerosyn Lex may be the Kanye of the design world, able to move easily between pop and fine art, creating ideas so right for their time you wonder why you didn't think of them first.
"He sent me an email in all capital letters, I think it was right after New Year’s," says Lex. "'YO, HAPPY NEW YEAR, THIS IS KANYE WEST.' He was forming the Donda thing, and he wanted to bring me in as creative director. For a year and a half I worked on a bunch of different projects, everything from identity and branding to artwork and stage visuals. I did stuff for the Watch The Throne tour, and art direction for 'Lost In The World.'"
But Lex comes without Kanye's bombast, or any of the visible psychic damages of fame (even though his exhibition opening, last Friday night, was studded with celebrities, from 2 Chainz to Joe Jonas). From what I could tell during our half-hour interview, he is a stubbornly normal dude. Born in Buenos Aires and raised in Florida, he is now based between New York and Japan (in the last two he has both obtained degrees and set up his agency, House of Alms).
"Fun fact: in the world there’s a little over 1300 billionaires, and there’s only one art billionaire," he told us. "I think it's Jeff Koons. So in the entire history of the human race, of the species, and in the importance of art, the fact that only one of 1300 is an artist? I think that really puts it in context, the fact that, yeah, art is not an easy business at all."
When we spoke he was in the middle of setting up one of his biggest works to date, or probably anybody's: a 150-foot painting that was unveiled in Miami on Friday night, hanging from the ceiling and across the room, rejigging the boundaries between painting and sculpture, alongside some of Lex's "living paintings" and other canvases.
The painting was created in an intensely focused zen state inspired by Eastern philosophies. "In Eastern calligraphy, it’s very much about the control of breath and presence of mind," he says. "So the title of the piece is NOESIS, which is the word for the act of perceiving, or the presence of mind, or the cognition that you know that you are thinking."
"Miami this time of year is a visual onslaught. It’s good, but every year it seems to kind of wear on the people. I’m trying to offer at least a moment, even if it’s only when in gaze with the work, that it hopefully will convey some sincerity."