Lives and works in New York, New York
Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
I don’t think much about the “How”, there wasn’t really a specific moment or instance that sets itself apart as a starting moment. I generally will think in a very problem-solving way. I tend to be pretty confident in my way of doing something and to understand something I would generally need to do it myself. The most meaningful jobs I’ve ever had were in some sort of creative outlet. It was always very obvious to me that I was going to work as a creative, simply because I didn’t know what else I could do.
Untitled ("two boys”), oil on panel, 36'" x 24" inches, 2020
What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?
I’ve been in a city most of my life and currently live in NYC, I grew up in a pretty tightly knit family where everyone was almost always on top of each other, privacy wasn’t necessarily expected and it was also pretty much a privilege if you got it. That lack of time with yourself really shapes how you will think and what is considered okay to do. There was always a set of eyes on you and ultimately, some form of critical judgment. When I moved in with my then boyfriend (now husband) I learned what a proper space actually was, even though it was a tiny bedroom in an also tiny washington heights apartment. We grew into ourselves, found our communities and took it from there.
Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Weißenhofsiedlung 14 + 15, 1927. Interior
What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?
When I first started studying art, general design principles and that sort of academic approach to art making stand out, ideas of weight and space are what impacted me the most, when I was a young artist. I later learned that those principles describe more of the grammar of design in terms of what would be Humanistic Design or better said, design that speaks to what it is to be human on a more visceral level.
Studio View 20210624 Works in progress color taxonomy
Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?
Grace Jones is a huge role-model of mine. I really look up to someone who’s so resolute in their work and was a central part of New Yorks culture at a time when queer identies were in full bloom. She was selling this world she created to an audience who were totally ready for her and without the help of the internet. Hopper and Hockney are two artists whose work I’ve admired, through most of my career they’re technically so interesting and both achieve that subtle narrative aspect in painting that I work towards. Almodovar, as someone whose work is hugely democratic. You can watch his films as a creative, a film buff, or just as someone who's following the storyline, and you leave feeling very satisfied. And of course, my dog - He knows exactly how to get what he wants.
View Through Closed Window II, oil on canvas, 18" x 24" Inches, 2020
Where do you find inspiration?
Generally from my surroundings. Living in NYC helps a lot in my exploration of space and just exploring the city really helps find these pockets of narration. Additionally, anything that is created to help tell a story. Film soundtracks, non verbal music, lighting, architecture renderings (Imaginary space). I’m very interested in being able to hint at a story in my own work but I also don’t want to outright tell the viewer what’s going on. So finding ways to indirectly speak around this narrative I’m creating and looking at how others creatively did the same. I also try to find my own inspiration by working in other mediums such as photography and writing to help me think about my work in a well-rounded way that I think is pretty valuable in any creative practice.
Greenery through fluted glass, 2020 35mm film, Paul-Sebastian Japaz
Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?
My painting Untitled “two boys", 2020
In room, on bed ,oil on panel 36" x 24" Inches, 2020
How did it begin? and how did it evolve?
It was likely the first work where I applied these conceptual theories of “space” to it. I wanted to create an environment that captured my idea of “theoretical space”, one that you believed to be a true space, but also felt inaccessible to the viewer and couldn’t really exist. In this work I wanted to have multiple different anchoring points as to create a tense, collaged spacial dynamic and also hint at some sort of queer narrative in the work. From there works like I'm supposed to be here ,2020 and In room, on bed ,2020 really progressed those ideas and ferried my work to somewhere where it is today. Furthermore, Works like Untitled ("View through closed window") ,2020 and it’s painting equivalent View Through Closed Window II, 2021, both really capture my idea of “Theoretical Space” as they’re referencing architectural drawings but from a dollhouse-like perspective and in doing that it keeps the figures out of the painting but leaves mentions they were once there, though the chair which is slightly pulled out, the flowers, and even time of day.
Untitled ("Marcy Ave”), oil on linen wrapped panel 18” x 18” Inches,2021
What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?
Learn to prioritize what’s important. I live for the details, I love to study them, understand them, and ultimately use them in my favor. Whether it be a specific kind of paper with a specific type of texture, or the way I mixed a kind of pigment so that certain color shifts happen. I tend to get lost in the sauce and live in the nuance. Every artist should love what they’re doing and find ways to continue to impress themselves.
Spring flower oil on canvas 24”x36” Inches, 2021
What are you working on now?
More paintings, more paintings, and more paintings. I would love to create a series of editions and work alongside other creatives that work in non-visual mediums.
Alley Kitchen, oil on canvas, 36" x 24" Inches, 2021
If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?
“You shouldn’t be staying home.”
The thing is, I’ve been given this piece of advice so so so many times and each time I’ve heard it, I used to think it didn’t apply to me, the charming extroverted painter who lives in the biggest city of the world and when I was really young was called “the little Mayor” by my daycare center. It was sometimes so easy to stay home or stay in the studio. But I really do want to give my support to so many of my peers. I now make it a huge point to keep up with their careers and want to know what they’re doing. It’s how you build a community and ultimately elevate everyone else around you.
Outside looking In, oil on panel, 36'" x 24" inches, 2021
About the Artist
Based in New York, New York
Paul-Sebastian Japaz is a painter who currently resides in NY, NY. In 2017, he graduated with a BFA in Fine Art from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Paul uses space to explore the idea that it can influence behaviors in people. Positive Space is a resource, and in many cases a privilege afforded to those in power. The work considers Queer identity and places it in the context of everyday life through the power of space and environment to define a place of our own.
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