Artist and painter Joe Carrozzo creates figurative reflections of human character flaws through absurd and equally cheeky oil paintings. "I’m interested in people, the ways they interact, especially the darker, more humorous or what might be characterized as socially unacceptable behavior". Drawn to the “low-brow”, uncultivated, unintellectual sides of life, Carrozzo's work examines the seemingly mundane and stupid choices we all make that carry unassuming consequences. "I want to know what’s happening behind the "curtain", the backstory and what's not intended to be seen."
How would you describe your paintings?
My work is a moving target between absurdity and insanity with glimpses
of humor popping up here and there. The work tends to poke fun at
human foibles and shortcomings not only for its own sake but, because I
am also positing the idea that many of us are too focused on our needs
and wants and many times end up tripping over ourselves, making stupid
mistakes and dumb choices. My work has always been about people and
their interactions but now it’s more about their flaws, weakness, and at
times, failings of character.
What’s your preferred medium to express yourself and your work? How did you come into working that way?
Painting and drawing. I use oil paint and pigment sticks primarily and
draw mostly in my sketchbook. I’m not sure how or why I came to working
with oil or even painting for that matter but, it began in college and at
the time it felt like what I needed to use. There is a tactile quality to oil
paint that’s important to me. When I’m making a painting, the process is
about building things up, moving parts around and taking them away, oil is
great for this.
Where did you grow up and do you think that’s affected, at all, your vision as an artist?
I grew up in Up State NY. I’m not sure how it affected my work but I did
spend a lot of time alone especially during summer vacation. This was a
time when there was no Internet, no cell phones, and only three
disappointing channels on TV so, I had a lot of time to think and imagine
and just get bored. As I look back now I'm sure this early period in my life
had a lot to do with me becoming an artist later. It was a time when I
really began developing my imagination.
What triggers your imagination?
There are many things that can trigger my imagination. Ideas seem to
come from a lot of different directions; dreams, a scene in a movie,
seeing something in the news or in daily life; these events can stimulate
ideas for new work. I also use a sketchbook, drawing in it randomly which
becomes a sort of bric-a-brac of ideas creating threads and directions for
What are some instagram accounts or artists that you particularly enjoy / are inspired
I tend to favor artists who have a naïve or raw approach to their work.
Whatever the type of work, I really want to see the “hand” in their work;
their movement through the work and their thinking process while making
it. I’m attracted to artists who do things that feel different and fresh to
me. I also get a lot of inspiration from looking at kid’s drawings.
What was your dream growing up as a child?
When I was a kid I really loved being in nature as much as possible. So,
when I was six or eight years old, I actually thought I wanted to be a
farmer or someone who work in nature. Looking back now I think this was
the beginning of my realizing that I never wanted to work for anyone but
instead to create the sort of life that I wanted to follow. When I was
growing up I felt there was a kind of freedom and openness from being in
nature that later I came to feel being an artist.
What has become most important to you or your work at this moment in your life?
I want my work to be as direct and honest as I can make it, I don’t want
the work to seem forced or belabored. It's a tricky balance to find the
limits between sloppy, heavy-handedness and being direct and fresh in the
work. I like this kind of challenge it's a bit like chess where each move
suggests the next and I have to be open to it and not merely trying to
make an image look like something. This is what keeps me working and
Is there any specific moment(s) or memory in your life that pushed you definitively towards the arts or to pursue your creative ambitions?
Not really any one specific thing but rather it’s been a long steady
development. I have moved more away from approaching a painting
attempting to solely make it about something or to illustrate an idea. I
have come to allow the work to suggest where it should go. I approach my
work now with an idea but also allow each move to suggest where or what
I should do next and not to force things.
What does your work mean to you? If anything at all?
This is this is a big question for me. My mind spins a bit because the work I
make and the life I have created being an artist ebbs, flows and evolves
together. I take my life of being an artist, for all its challenges and
success, equally as meaningful as I do with the work I make. They are of
the same, the work and the life it is one for me.
What is your definition of ‘art’, even if it’s total bullshit?
It gives shape and form to ideas, emotions, and impressions. But if I were
to distill it down I would say that art is, of course, a nonverbal form of
communication. The verbal analog might be poetry. But whatever one says
about what art means or is there surely is a counter augment challenging
it. I think this might be the best thing about art, always morphing and
evolving into something else, something other. Possibly art is the one
“thing” that humans will not be able to honestly and clearly categorize
What can we expect to see from you in the coming months?
I will be having multiple shows in Europe and the US very soon. Stay
tuned for upcoming info about them!