The New Starving Artist: Aaron Bobrow

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Motor oil. A plastic tarp. Self tanning lotion. These are just a few of the materials artist Aaron Bobrow uses to invest his clean, graphic paintings with deeper meanings. “My work has a lot to do with transportation,” he says to explain the motor oil. “Industrialized society runs on oil. Gasoline, too, but oil is the real lubricant.”

The tarp served as the deteriorating canvas for “BALCO,” a nod to the crooked company that supplied professional baseball player Barry Bonds with steroids. And the self tanner? Well, Bobrow applied it to a monochromatic painting to look like cell phone service bars, his attempt to link vanity with radiation.

The 23-year-old Parsons graduate, who was born in San Francisco, lives in Manhattan and works in Brooklyn, churning out paintings at a frenetic pace. “I’m interested in making the work as fast as possible. Not in terms of the speed with which I make the paintings, but in terms of the feeling of them.” But life in Manhattan sometimes gets in the way. “New York is a hard place to get shit done,” he says. “Try going to get a piece of plywood with no car, and then lifting it up a fi ve-story walk-up. It’s important to work outside of your bedroom, so I go to Brooklyn and empty out all the unnecessary stuff that confuses my brain.”

Although the term “starving artist” has become more literal due to the economic downturn, Bobrow isn’t all that worried. “I’m not selling as well as I’d like to be,” he says, “But older friends of mine are doing better than ever. A gallerist told me that nobody is buying the work of relatively unknown young artists. In my opinion, that person was just a bad gallerist.”

Photo by Billy Kidd, Hair by Charlie Taylor, Grooming by Lauren Whitworth using YSL Beaute. .