The Art Assassin

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang

Chapter 14: EXCLUSIVE ASSASSINATION: Jeff Faerber, Artist Represented by Iao PROJECTS and CollegeArtOnline

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Jeff Faerber with girlfriend Stacy. Courtesy of MySpace.
Jeff Faerber: Attack of the Ads, 2008, mixed media on board, 10 by 14 inches. Courtesy of Iao PROJECTS.

Jeff Faerber, one of the most probing Brooklyn artists who still works closely with figurative art, explores all ranges of topics ranging from the Bush administration to the problems of capitalism within his expressionist works. With his cutting and often witty style, his paintings get to the heart of the matter with an unexpected visual juxtaposition and sharp use of puns. Not too many people can mistake an oil derrick until it’s the devil’s horn in his rendition of Dick Cheney.

Apart from exploring evil amongst humanity, Faerber does like to whip out cityscapes and lovely, sometimes surreal version of Coney Island scenes with his unique brand of visualization. Using hues of pink, blue, and grey, these lively portraits of a city capture the immersed souls that inhabit it. George Grosz has met his match in this lifetime.

If you have any questions about Faerber’s artwork, feel free to contact his gallery Iao PROJECTS at (801) 336-0924 or at Also you can contact CollegeArtOnline (CAO) at (602) 318-8224 or at

So on to the show and here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s latest details of this “assassination”:

qi peng: What are some of your favorite artists, books, television shows, sports, art magazines, toys, movies, and other cultural artifacts that you wish to share with your fans of your work here? Do you have any recent galleries or exhibitions that you have seen and would to recommend to us? What things in those shows inspired your visual eye?

Jeff Faerber: My tastes are varied and all over the place. For movies, I like bad and good sci-fi, “arthouse” films, foreign films, cartoons, low brow and high brow. Pretty much anything other than romantic comedies and anything with too many car chases. I loved “the Lives of Others,” and “Children of Men.” For the most part, I try to not watch too much TV but basically nothing beats HBO‘s “The Wire.” I I can list a ton of books but that might not be to interesting. For art shows, I wish I saw Cai Guo Qiang at the Guggenheim, but I only discovered him on Google after it went down. Maybe I need to get out more.

qi peng: What is your opinion of art world journalism? Do you read periodicals such as ArtForum or ARTnews to get an up to date understanding of what goes on within the art world? Do you have any favorite artistic blogs or websites that you enjoy looking at on a regular basis? Do you feel that smaller, regional art markets like Salt Lake City or San Jose will have a chance to expand their horizons into becoming essential and vibrant art hot spots just like Los Angeles or New York City? What do you think is the current state of contemporary art within Brooklyn where you are located?

Jeff Faerber: I keep art journalism at an arm’s length.  For the most part I do not read any art periodicals, out of a mixture of laziness and disinterest. I do have several blogs bookmarked but I don’t check them very often. Unfortunately, checking out the “market” feels too much like homework. I do hope that some smaller markets can get noticed and shake things up, but then, they will probably get co-opted and assimilated into the larger markets (call me a cynic.) The Brooklyn scene is a mixed bag of nuts. Some of it is incredibly inspiring, while most of it is ho-hum.

qi peng: How do you feel that the current economic recession impacted the contemporary art market and way that it functions in the larger national economy? Do you feel that artists will be pursuing more personal and intimate projects than the overly commercial work, typically geared for the art fairs, during the upcoming years? How do you think that galleries and non-profits will be coping with the dramatic shifts within the political and corporate culture, particularly in America? Do you have any thoughts about the current state of the stock market and its concomitant corruption?

Jeff Faerber: The larger national economic troubles have definitely affected the art market. (My latest show in Brooklyn had half the sales, than a comparable show in 07.) But I think most artists’ lifestyles (myself included) are not unlike living during a recession/depression even in good times, so I think that really, my economic fortunes didn’t go south, the rest of the economy came to me! Hopefully artists/non-profits will pursue things that are meaningful to themselves regardless of the larger trends. (but probably not.) The corrupt stockmarket: I’ve always felt the stock market is a cesspool of corruption and legalized gambling. I really can’t saw enough bad things about it. I’m only surprised it has taken this long to finally fester and pop. But I do feel bad for those who have been hurt by it.

qi peng: How has your cooperation with your gallery Iao PROJECTS helped out with the direction of your work? Has gallery representation boosted your artistic career and your ability to pursue more larger scale pieces? What are your political views and how do they differ from those of the usual contemporary artists?

Jeff Faerber: Well, when Iao Projects says “hey, were are gonna have a themed show on such and such subject” that helps define a direction to go in for a short while! I’ve had a group show, a solo show and lots of upcoming art fairs. They also helped hook me up with a gallery in LA which was lovely. I haven’t yet done larger pieces, but soon, very soon!

qi peng: As a graduate of the programs at San Jose State University and the School of Visual Arts, what were those educational years like? How was life in the studio back then as compared to now? Did you have any influential professors or students during that time and what was their impact on you and your work? How did you develop your current and versatile style of figurative paintings that mirror a strong interest in anything from cityscapes to erotic shunga art to political satire?

Jeff Faerber: The college years at San Jose State were some of the most amazing years creatively for me. Post-school, the studio life is much more isolated and there is much more cat hair now. I had some amazing instructors that were inspiring both as artists and just as people. And I learned as much from my peers as some of the teachers. I think the main thing I learned was to take inspiration from as wide a net as possible and that has led to me paint a variety of subjects and given me some wiggle room in styles. If you borrow from enough sources, that no one can claim you are ripping them off (hopefully).

qi peng: You have much experience as an illustrator who has been involved in the design of magazine covers and even some commissioned work. How does your knowledge of illustration inform the way that you approach your painterly style? What is the nature of the intersection between illustration and painting?

Jeff Faerber: The difference between illustration and fine art is very murky and hard to define. I try to make the difference between the two as vague as possible but the two worlds have definitely influence each other. Illustration has given me more of a sense of narrative and structure to images but that was always present in fine art as well.

qi peng: What is your opinion on juried competitions such as New American Paintings and curated artists registries such as The Drawing Center‘s Viewing Program or White Columns in the development of a young artist’s career? Do you feel that being judged by “officials” or “art referees” help to create a strong reputation for the artist’s work? What elements do you think are necessary to make a particular artwork strong and communicative? With the rise of online curated galleries such as Collegeartonline (CAO) or Ugallery, do you think that those type of galleries are a good stepping stone into the larger art network?

Jeff Faerber: Perhaps you caught me in a cynical mood, but I lot of these juried shows and publications seem like a crap-shoot. What gets in seems so subjective and arbitrary that I am losing my patience with them. (And it is not that I am not having success with the art market that makes me says this either.) It seems odd to allow someone else to become the arbiters of what has value. I’m happy with the quality of my work and not sure I want random “referees” to have that kind of power over the art world.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around New York City, specifically Chelsea or Park Slope, that you wish to recommend us? What are the things that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Jeff Faerber: For my book buying needs, I lean towards Strand and Forbidden Planet (which are conveniently located about 100 feet from each other. These are not really hidden nooks that non-natives know about. Mostly I like the large selection at these places and despite their size, they feel about as non “Box-storey” as possible.

For food, I like this small Indian restaurant in my hood called Kinara. The price and quality are excellent. The food is so good, I’m afraid they are using something bad like MSG or crack to make it shine.

qi peng: What are some of your thoughts of the current trends within the contemporary art world such as conceptual art or the new media art where technology and art intersect? Do you feel that there is a certain strength in “traditionalism” within the scene where curators are hunting for the latest cutting-edge work?

Jeff Faerber: I often think that using technology in art is a bit gimmicky. There are times when it can work well but more often than not it feels like a 3-d movie where every scene has to have something fly at you just to take advantage of the gimmick. I do like the sense of traditionalism of painting, like I am a direct descendant of Rembrandt or Caravaggio and hopefully there is some strength in that.

qi peng: Would you consider your artwork a form of statement about sociology and the way that humans relate to each other? How does this fit into the political utopia of “hopefulness” that has arrived with the administration of President Obama? Should art strive to maintain political roots or not? With your anti-Bush paintings, what was the statement that you were trying to point out within the policies of cultural imperialism that were the fiber of the previous administration? Why are politicians a type of artist, specifically con artists? Does fine art and politics have the same techniques of illusion and deception that infuse the final piece?

Jeff Faerber: Sure. The Obama administration may be a radical departure from the Bush years, but I know I will have plenty of things to complain about. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but I tend to enjoy complaining about the world’s ills rather than celebrating the positive. I think each artist can decide whether or not their work will address political issues but for me, my work definitely has to address politics (not every piece but many of them.) I’m not sure where to start about the Bush administration. Basically I was opposed to 99% of their policies. (I did like the anti-telemarketing law that he signed, but other than that,….) I may expand your question of are all politicians con artists, to everyone being one. We all try to present ourselves in subtly controlling ways to make ourselves look good (for example, I’m typing and retyping my answers cuz I want to appear smart and stuff.) Its just that politicians are under much more scrutiny than the average Joe. I’m sure much of the fine art market is about marketing the same illusion as politics, just not to the same degree. But not me. My work is 100% sincere, I swear.

qi peng: How do you choose the titles for your artworks? Generally, I feel that they are rather matter-of-fact or straightforward in its description such as “Eli’s a Cat” or “Attack of the Ads.” Do you consider these phrases to be descriptions or a foil to the subject matter of the artwork that the title is tied to? What does tell the viewer about what illustrative painting tries to achieve? How do you tie in your sly humor into the artwork when necessary?

Jeff Faerber: I have a love/hate relationship with titling my artwork. The matter-of-fact titles are often slightly tongue-in-cheek or as you put it a foil to the piece. But really, it is more the fact that I wish I could be more poetic with them. In an act of frustration I give them admittedly banal, unoriginal titles. On the odd occasion when I find a poetic title, I later find them a little pompous. Oh, woe is me.

The humor aspect is something worth talking about. My work does tend towards the moody or melodramatic so I think I do use subtle humor or take me down a peg and make fun of myself. I may be a pompous ártiste on occasion but at least I know am one.

qi peng: You have used your girlfriend Stacey as a model for a few of your works. What is the experience like? What is the nature of the relationship between the artist and his model? Is the viewer a type of voyeur? With your erotic works, what is your psychological take on depicting explicitly acts of sex and the joys of various positions? How does the techniques and subject matter of pornography influence the way that you handle the paint?

Jeff Faerber: Using Stacey as a model is difficult because the pressure is on to not screw it up (or I’m in deep doo-doo)! Someone else said that all portraits are really self portraits and I agree. I may have dozens of photos of Stacey to chose from, but I will choose the ones that speak to me and portray her (or who/what ever) in ways that I chose.

qi peng: Is there anything else that you wish to share with readers here or fans of your work?

Jeff Faerber: Eat your veggies.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 1:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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