Brooklyn-based painter Marcus Leslie Singleton on the pros and cons of good lighting, and why good art works telepathically


One of the most promising young artists working today is Marcus Leslie Singleton, a Brooklyn-based painter whose work portrays the intimacy of black communities in everyday life.

Its characters, often cheerful and familiar, bask on the living room sofas or play cards in the shade of a gigantic parasol. They shoot baskets on a sunny neighborhood basketball court and chat with friends at the local deli, thinking about buying a lotto ticket. In his work, Singleton distills, until the moment, the parallel realities of joy and dark hardships with a sort of immediacy that is at once poignant and full of hope, filled with love and very united.

Artnet recently spoke to Singleton, who describes his work as an ongoing examination of ‘time and the black body’, to hear about his new show at Pit LA, what he needs in his studio to do his job. , and more. .

Marcus Leslie Singleton, Prepare (2018). Courtesy of the Overlay Gallery

What are the most essential items in your studio and why?

When I started painting, my mother gave me oil pastels. I really didn’t know what to do with them. But a few years ago my mother passed away, so now I keep them safe in a suitcase.

You have a show right now at Pit LA. What can people expect to see?

Yeah, I’m excited. It’s a group show with strong programming. I am going to show some paintings that I did while I was in Mexico.

What atmosphere do you prefer when you work?

I was very lucky with my studio. There are pros and cons with everything. But my studio is in the cut. I barely hear the noise, the atmosphere is relaxed and focused, and I love it.

The downside is that there isn’t a lot of natural light. My paintings are always different in a gallery or in a place where there is more natural light. I’m like “What the fuck are the colors?” “

Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence?

I usually listen to music when I am working. I am not much of a podcaster. I especially like to listen to hip hop when I work. But lately I’ve been on a deep house wave.

Marcus Leslie Singleton, "Guard at the Guggenheim" (2019).  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Marcus Leslie Singleton, Guard at the Guggenheim (2019). Photo courtesy of the artist.

What trait do you admire most in a work of art?

I like when I can say that the artist puts his soul into it. Art is a spiritual thing. The fact that we can communicate something without verbiage is telepathic. So I like when an artist can achieve this through sculpture, painting, photography, etc.

What trait do you despise the most?

Laziness is repulsive. Cowardice, stay away.

What snack could your studio not function without?

I must have a bottle of wine and some spicy crisps.

Who are your favorite artists, curators or other thinkers to follow social networks right now?

Sam Youkilis, his video work is unique. And Mosie Romney, their paintings are always vibrant. I love the way Jason Reynolds dictates his writing. Yashiddai Owens’ page is full of creative ways to see the world. Maryah Dinane for all that is delicious and healthy. I am also drawn to the work of curator of Nicola Vassell, Destinee Ross-Sutton, Mike Mosby.

When you feel stuck in the studio, what do you do to get out of it?

Um, I never really feel stuck. Rather, it is procrastination. And when I feel that, I go for a walk and I have a hot tea.

What is the last exhibition that you saw (virtual or not) that made a impression on you?

David Hammons went to the Drawing Center.

If you had to create a moodboard, what would be on it? now?

Photos of desert landscapes, punk rock posters, family photos, 8-bit graphics, sidewalk objects, flowers, grass and sex.

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