Clint Carney: The King of Dark Art
by Violette Skye
From the first time I listened to his music and saw his art online, I was hooked.
November 14, 2007, was the first time I had any interaction with Clint Carney. I went with two friends to see his band, System Syn and VNV Nation, perform in Covington, Kentucky. After his set, we got the chance to talk to him, and my first impression was, “Wow, this guy is really down to Earth.” He told us that he was a painter and that we should check out his work.
Clint Carney grew up in a creative family. His dad was a painter, and his uncle a horror writer. Creating art since he was very young, with his dad showing him the ropes along the way, he created drawings, paintings and clay sculptures. As he grew older, he found that he could never read enough about painting techniques to satisfy his curiosity.
His work is not for the faint of heart, with subject matter that is extremely thought-provoking, with the reoccurring theme of self destruction. His first solo show was held at the Hyaena Gallery in LA. One of his works from the show, “Anoxia,” specifically caught my eye. I asked him to tell me how he came to paint the image.
“It happens that it is a self portrait, as well. I set up a camera on a timer and posed for the image with a bag over my head. It only took a few shots before I got the image I was looking for. When my wife came home to find me working on the drawing for the painting, and saw the reference photo, I don't think she was pleased with me. Ha! But, aside from wanting to capture the emotion of this piece, I was really excited to try to capture the translucent bag and the way it distorts the skin when pulled tight. It was something I hadn't painted before, and was really a great learning experience for me.”
His work is represented by Bill Shafer at Hyaena Gallery and as a direct result, Clint Carney has a career as a visual artist. “Hyaena Gallery is an amazing place on so many different levels. Not only do they have a lot of incredible artists showing there, but it's also a place where artists actually hang out. So, going to Hyaena, you end up meeting lots of very talented people who are willing to share their knowledge of art. I've learned so much just talking to the other artists I've met through the gallery, and I'd like to think I've also helped a few people who I've met there, as well. Hyena was the first real gallery to take a chance on me and start showing my art, and from there, things really started to build for me. For those reading this who haven't been to the gallery, go now, and go often. New art rotates through the gallery all the time, so there is always something new to see.”
Showing with Hyaena has opened the door to him showing work in lots of other galleries such as: Solid Gallery One in Hollywood, Lunatic Fringe in San Diego, Rivet Gallery in Columbus, OH, Synthetica Gallery in Cincinnatti, Arts Connections in Hesperia, Get Inked in Pittsburgh and his newest show at the Congregation Gallery in Hollywood. He said he has never had any issues with showing his work in galleries, although he wonders sometimes how curators pick his pieces as they are the only dark art pieces in the show.
“If you've seen my work, you know that it can get pretty bloody and disturbing. But, for some reason, I've been asked to participate in a few shows in which I was the only artist with dark subject matter. So, the galleries would have lots of modern art, cartoony stuff, flowers and other hotel-art-type bullshit, and then there would be a few of my fucked up paintings hanging next to them. Needless to say, my art did not sell at those events, but it's always amusing to stand back and watch people react to the pieces in that type of environment.”
Recently Clint has begun a new collection of works that he callsA Warring Tribe. He describes this series as, “Two themes that present themselves through each piece, they are the invertebrates, which represent those faceless others who are unlike us, and the self-destruction of humanity, honed to precision by the various cultural and religious indoctrinations of the "civilized" world. People tend to dehumanize others who are not like them. Thus, it becomes easier to hate them, or kill them, or simply not to care about them.”
The piece Invertebrate drips of depth, and begs the viewer to look deep inside to question his or her own biases about other humans.
“The image in the painting depicts twin sisters, one destroying the other simply because she is tied to one of the 'others'. More specifically, she is tearing out her spine, turning her own blood into an invertebrate. It is an attempt to point out the absurdity of hatred born of divisions such as religion, race, etc. I chose a yellow jacket, which is a type of wasp, because it is an invertebrate that is very commonly feared. And the setting was chosen to illustrate that these characters exist in a world that is not their own, as we all do.”
Clint used the same female model for both sisters in “Invertebrate” as a reference for lighting and an added touch of realism. He sketched out the model and got a basic platform for the piece, and as he painted, his was able to firm up his vision for the piece. He spent more than 70 hours from beginning to end on this work.
His works are also available at Hyaena Gallery, and can be purchased in-person or through www.hyaenagallery.com
You can see more of his work at: www.clintcarney.com
You can hear his music at www.systemsyn.com