May 5 - June 7, 2021
May 5 - June 7, 2021
Born 1983, San Francisco, California
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
2011 Kungl Konsthögskolan Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, Sweden
2006 BA New School University, New York, NY
As a kid, artist Austin English was surrounded by comic books and modern art.
“Some people have divisions in their mind between art and comics but I always had them in my mind as equal — they were pictures and books.”
Meskin and Umezo takes its title from a three-part graphic narrative which Austin English began in June 2016. English’s masterful drawings hinge upon the variety of ways in which the human figure can be twisted up, contorted, or reconfigured.
At the center of the works is a story in which the four central characters contradict each other relentlessly, even before any one of them can express a finished thought. This act of contradiction is neither endorsed nor repulsed. English melds dialogue and image to invest each drawing with a psychological agency that can sometimes be unnerving.
"Speaking of decisions that are both for yourself and for the reader -- I wonder if the title, Meskin and Umezo, falls in that category. I'm sure you had reasons for choosing those names specifically, but they're also names that are familiar to most of your readers and a section of the book focuses on making and consuming art.
Yeah. And Ramona is named after Ramona Fradon and Wayne after Wayne Boring. but...more than anything, that's just me giving myself something for momentary enjoyment...at first it kind of colored Meskin because Mort Meskin is known to have struggled with expressing himself, so that was a simple association. But really it was just for my own pleasure and to affirm some kind of affinity for comics while working on it. I misspelled Umezu as Umezo early on and then just let it remain like that, so the overly clever part of the book was destroyed.
Meskin is the only one who I know a bit about their personality... The others are just figures that I appreciate who are comforting to surround myself with as actors... I think of his art as powerful and commanding, so that's why I gave him the more self assured role. His art feels unassailable and exerts a real intimidating effect, for most readers. I dunno anything about his real life or the shirt, but I’m glad that my perception of him syncs up. I actually had no idea he wore a shirt like that, so it’s funny that Meskin wears that shirt...that’s a really beautiful coincidence actually!"
From the interview with Andrew White for The Comics Journal
"I've always felt that people in comics should be doing whatever they can to be involved - actively involved - with the ideas, works of art, maligned artists that they care about or feel are important in whatever way." - Austin English