“I’m trying to achieve something where it’s very efficient and very concise, but also very stylized at the same time and, still very dense in content.”
San Jose native artist, Kyle Pellet tried the L.A scene after graduating form SJSU to break into the film industry, but didn’t like the “vibe.” He found it “explosive.” Like living in a continuous state of knowing that any minute the people and everything would “explode” was not Kyle’s style. Kyle is much too reserved for that kind of a “dog-eat-dog” scene. Now, returned to his hometown of San Jose, Kyle has created a world that is focused on exploring his paintings and the supportive community of the locals of San Jose.
Sitting in the soft breeze of his downtown apartment we discussed his life, work and the meaning of the universe.
Content: Moving back from LA you decided to begin painting. Did you begin in the small scale as you do now?
Kyle: At first it was just because of the space I had to work in and the money I had. I just felt like I could practice and learn on a much smaller scale than if I had bought more resources and more materials. I just thought, “I don’t know how to paint, I’m going to learn how to paint doing this.” In doing that, though, I really liked what I could do on a small piece. It’s more of a challenge of what I can articulate… and how much content I can put into a very small surface area. And I’m into that now. I’m like fully into that.
Content: How did you start painting with gouache? (Pronounced, gw-ash, rhymes with “wash”)
Kyle:Kind of by accident, I just was experimenting with materials at first. I was using acrylic for the most part, and watercolor. But gouache has this look that’s kind of like acrylic, very opaque like acrylic, but when you use it, it feels like watercolor. Like when you apply it, it reacts to your surfaces like watercolor does.
I’ve always liked that very flat, very graphic look. I don’t like brush strokes. Or, I like brush strokes, but in as far as what I’m doing, I’m not interested in showing brush strokes. I like this very solid image that has no indications of where it started or where it ended, it’s just like there.
Content: More graphic?
Kyle: Definitely, yeah. It’s not brush or stroke based, but more shape based, or blob based. I might go back to acrylics at some point if I feel I wanted something bigger. At this point, I like what I’m doing as far as gouache and small. In doing that, I’m learning things that I wanted to learn, and some of those things might be better explored in film or in acrylic or in some other media. The more I do, the more I’m finding things I’m curious about, so that might expand. But at this point, I’m very interested in keeping with the gouache.
Kyle:Each piece, I’m trying to communicate some sort of mood or something… I might have a memory, and then however that memory feels, I’m trying to convey that. I’m not trying to… Say if I remember my grandmother’s house and I’m like three or four years old, and it’s just a flashback in my head, just for a second, it’s like, whoa, I forgot how that felt. I forgot what it feels like to be four years old and not know all this other stuff I know.
I’m not going to try to show myself on my grandmother’s green carpet, like it was. I’m going to try to articulate that mood, what it felt like at four years old, where all the stuff is weird, wonderful, and how it feels to feel certain things or wonder about certain things at certain points in my life. And I guess that’s at least the start of what I’m trying to do what I’m working on.
Content: Your character and figures remind me of the old Felix the cat cartoons, or even early Mickey Mouse cartoons, have those been an influence in your work?
Kyle: Yeah, when I started, I think that one of my main reference points is probably like old pop culture, like old comics and 1920s silent cartoons, that kind of stuff. At this point, I feel like a lot of the characters are I don’t really design them, I kind of just build them. As far as what happens on the paper, it’s kind of automatic, and it’s just more of a variable for what the paint is and the mood it’s trying to convey. And I guess maybe that’s just the best I know how to, or the most efficient way I know how to, render something that’s supposed to be a character connoting some sort of emotion or indicating something that has some sort of mind. It’s an actor in a play, I guess.
My paintings I’ve done over the past five months have been more focused on trying to articulate consciousness in another way. Like I might have a circle here showing like an environment, and then something else, like a face or half of a face, and then another half face somewhere else, like in motion, like trying to show a single moment in different ways.
Kyle:I like Cormac McCarthy a lot. I’ve just been trying to read more of his work. Just his efficiency in language, I feel like I’m trying to achieve something where it’s very efficient and very concise, but also very stylized at the same time and, still very dense in content. I’m not even comparing myself to him, but I’d love to be able to do that. He seems to model that and I’d love search and explored that style.
Also, my grandfather, my parents, but yes, my grandfather specifically has all these horrible stories about World War II, and I don’t even know how the dude’s still alive. And then it’s like, man, I feel guilty, I have to do something with my life. I can’t be a total failure, because this guy survived all this horrible stuff, and if I’m a loser, like that’s all in vain. He struggled and everything, and now I just feel that has influenced me to be productive, in some way. Somehow just not to fail. I can’t just eat Doritos all day and do drugs and kill myself, I have to try to be a productive citizen.
Content: What’s next for you?
Kyle:Over the past couple of days, I’ve just been, I don’t know, it’s not depressed, but just frustrated about existence, just about infinity, just time and space. Thinking about what’s greater than us, what’s bigger than us has been sort of frustrating to me. It is also, at the same time, an awesome thing to think about. My day always ends with my head hurting.
I guess I’m just trying to explore visually what I communicate and what questions that brings for me, and if I can answer those questions, what questions those will bring me to.