07.30.08 PAUL TURNS TO A NEW ART FORM
By Jan Feighner, Special to The Mercury
Paul Stanley, Kiss’s infamous frontman, has spent over 30 years perfecting his craft. He has written many of the rock band’s songs and recorded and performed solo. He has starred in two successful runs of The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, stretching his musical abilities to new heights.
Despite decades of honing his voice and instrumentals, Stanley, born Stanley Harvey Eisen, in Queens, New York, never ignored the art training he received at New York City’s High School of Music and Art. He designed the group’s signature make-up, album covers, several costumes, and numerous stage sets.
Following some personal and physical setbacks late in his career, Stanley craved a new creative outlet. A friend suggested he try painting, which he never really pursued during his school days. He pondered the notion, then bought supplies, established his home studio, and discovered a new love, beginning with a self-portrait. In 2005 he presented his work to the world.
The Wentworth Gallery, 406 Mall Boulevard, brings Stanley’s Abstract Impressionist paintings to its King of Prussia Mall location on Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26, with appearances by Stanley on Friday, 7 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m. A reservation-required VIP reception occurs on Saturday from 4 to 5 p.m.
Stanley will sign purchased giclee prints and originals, but stated that fans should leave albums and other memorabilia at home. Only those who buy his pieces will receive an autograph on the artwork. He will welcome all comers with a wave and friendly “hello,” but maintained that the gallery venue is not a rock concert or signing event, particularly due to the large crowds his presence commands.
“The great thing about these shows that I do at Wentworth Galleries is that it gives people a chance to meet the person who created the art,” Stanely said. “You know, I’m a big believer that if you’re going to acquire a piece of art you ultimately have to come to your own reality and sense of what it means, but there’s nothing like getting some insight from the person who created it. It gives everybody a chance to have that kind of personal contact.”
Stanley stated that although he began to paint as a solitary, personal endeavor, his exhibitions allow those who might be intimidated by art academicians or have never visited a gallery to come and explore something different. He added that he didn’t start exhibiting to “show off,” but that he enjoys sharing his work, hoping it will connect with people whether they are collectors, buyers, fans, or art aficionados.
The accomplished artisan begins with an acrylic-gessoed canvas, preferring spontaneity as opposed to a preconceived idea or sketch. He uses a bright palette packed with bold reds, greens, blues, yellows, and oranges. He rarely leaves white space, instead filling the canvas with whatever mood strikes him that moment and sometimes works in series, such as a collection of spheres, the symbol of life and eternity.
His “Green Planet” features a multi-colored orb in the canvas’s center surrounded by a spectrum of reds, oranges, and lavender. The circle contains a mix of those same hues with greens and blues blending almost to brown and possesses an iridescence reminiscent of polished labradorite(?). Cracks appear in no particular pattern similar to earth’s mountain ranges viewed from space.
Stanley frequently builds texture with modeling paste and layers of acrylic paint of varying viscosities. His tools consist of brushes, palette knives, and his fingers. He enjoys the intimacy of touching the media and lack of restrictions presented by painting.
He draws from inside himself for subject matter, pouring his emotions on the board before him, but occasionally seeks to recreate life around him like portraits of his bandmates in make-up, the Statue of Liberty, and his version of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. He views his process as instinctive and cathartic, loving its challenges and rewards.
“It’s almost a snapshot of whatever’s going on at any given time, so rather than try to finesse that or shape it into something other than what it is, I like it to just be organic,” explained Stanley. “It’s so much reflection of who I am but it’s much more pleasurable. Seeing my own art is much more pleasurable than looking in a mirror and yet it does the same thing.”
The musician gains inspiration from all artistic movements from the Old Masters to Photorealism, but gravitates to Abstract Impressionism with its inventive depictions of reality, brilliant colors, and limitless boundaries. His free-flowing style resembles modern artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, and Peter Max.
Stanley’s work garners profits in the millions. He believes that his fame got him noticed on the gallery circuit, but that his talent keeps him there. He disdains people who bandy the words, “lucky break,” adding that, “People who fail (would) rather believe that you succeeded because of luck. Luck is seeing the opportunities that someone else doesn’t see.” He insists that his paintings speak for themselves since collectors typically buy them more than fans do.
Stanley recognizes his advantage of being famous, however. When asked if he thought he’d be as far as he is now without them, he pondered for a moment.
“It’s a great question, and after 35 years of being successful at what I do, I couldn’t possibly answer it with any accuracy. I mean, would I be this successful? I don’t know. It would’ve meant that I would’ve had that much more time to concentrate on art.
“I think a strong work ethic is paramount. I think that you’ll find out how much something is worth to you by how hard you’ll work to get it. Just because something is within your reach doesn’t mean it will come easy; it just means that it’s there to be had.”
The creative artist wishes to attempt sculpting next. He feels it’s a natural step and wants to try glass and bronze, learning how to mold and cast. Stanley knows he will succeed, certainly by his own standards, not caring about anyone’s opinion.
“The world is full of people who have failed, and the ones who tell you what’s impossible are the ones who failed. I guess I have issues with authority and I’ve always believed that what I want to do is what I should do. It’s something innate; I’ve always believed it and it’s proven itself to be right time and time again.
“I think that if you break out of any restrictions that others have put on you or that you’ve put on yourself, you’ll amaze yourself with what you’re capable of. There’s so much talent in this world (that’s) stifled firstly by others and then stifled by us. Once you give yourself the freedom to create then the possibilities are endless.”
For more about Paul Stanley and his amazing art, visit his website at www.paulstanley.com.