Loose Lips and Close Quarters: A Follow Up Interview With Andrew Wilson
It’s a Tuesday night and Andrew Wilson has arrived at my place for dinner and an interview. He’s a bit late as he took a wrong turn on his way over and he’s a little frazzled after a long day working for Nicholas Di Genova in the studio but he’s brought a box of wine and he’s eager to crack it open and let the stresses of the workplace melt away. I show him around the place and we take a quick tour of the weird/creepy basement where we take a few photos. We then head upstairs where we sit down to dinner and afterwords we get to talking about the issues.
So what are you working on these days?
Well I’ve got a show in Amsterdam coming next fall. The exact date hasn’t been set yet but I’m pretty excited about it and I’ve been working on paintings and drawings for that. The scale is going to be bigger than my last show-
In terms of the size of the paintings?
Yes, the paintings and drawings. I’m also working on some smaller stuff, drawings. Prep stuff I guess for bigger pieces I’ll do later on.
And what are you doing outside of working on your own art?
Art-wise or in general?
Well I’m working for Nick two days a week and I’m practicing with my band (Dawn of Humans) two days a week. We have a show coming up, I’m not sure if you were aware-
It’s on Valentines Day so it’s going to be quite romantic. It’s going to be our first show in over a year, a reunion show if you will. I’m hoping we don’t screw up.
And you’ve been DJing?
Yeah at least once or twice a month at The Ossington.
Okay so… how are things going with your long time mentor and friend Nicholas Di Genova?
Things are going well, it’s nice to have him back.
Okay, now I wanted to follow up on some questions from our interview last year: at one point you said that you do a lot of work on Nick’s paintings, often as much as half of the piece or more and that he said he might start putting your name on the back of his works. You also said that you had “half a piece up at the Whitney but no one would ever know.” I wanted to ask if Nick ever followed through with that and put your name on the back of his works?
No, he hasn’t yet actually. I haven’t bugged him about that but I probably should. It’s been awhile.
Have you been afraid to?
No but I guess he’s, well he’s slowly phasing out his paintings and he’s focusing more on just his paper work so he’s doing just – actually I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say this, I don’t know if he wants people to know how many more he’s doing. I don’t know if his galleries are supposed to know how many more he’s going to do.
Well can you tell me, off the record? But also sort of on the record?
Um… somewhere around ten I guess.
And is he doing any paintings outside of that? You know just for private individuals for a little cash on the side? Like if I had X amount of dollars for him to do something is he accepting those kind of offers?
If it was worth his while he might. I don’t know. I think that’s something you’ll have to ask him.
Okay. So another follow up question: I asked you last year if you thought you might one day overtake Nick in terms of talent or earning potential. Do you think that’s happened or have you got any closer to that goal in the time that’s passed?
Well I guess I’m slowly gaining ground. I’ve had my first solo show since then so you know, things are happening.
So you think you’ve gotten somewhat closer?
I don’t know, Nick works pretty hard so he might be advancing just as fast as me, if not faster.
And is there anything you think you might be able to do to change that?
Hmm… I guess I could break a finger or two of his… while he sleeps.
So you have access to his sleeping quarters?
Would you care to elaborate on that?
Um, hmm, well I don’t know.
Off the record?
Hmm… well yeah, we share a studio so-
And do you share anything else?
We share the kitchen.
Groceries. The three of us – I have another studio mate, Daniel – and the three of us share groceries.
And I hear that when Daniel sleeps at the studio you and Nick share a _____?
A uh… a bed.
And how is that going?
It’s- it’s okay, as long as he keeps to his side it’s fine. We only have the one bed and a couch so if the three of us stay the night we have to make do and Daniel likes the couch.
He likes his space?
Yeah, when it’s just me and Nick, Nick will take the couch which is nice because I prefer the bed. But it’s a big enough bed.
Does Nick snore?
No but the other day he was asking me if I heard him talking in his sleep and I told him I didn’t.
Do either of you ever wander over to the other persons’ side accidentally?
Um, he thought that the other day he might have sort have put his arm around me in the night thinking that I was his girlfriend but then he realized where he was and he stopped. I must have slept throughout the whole thing because I don’t remember it at all.
Do you smell like his girlfriend or something or does he just get confused?
I don’t think so, I think he just gets confused.
Is it ever awkward in the morning when you wake up?
No, we’re kind of like brothers you know so it’s all good. We are getting bunk beds though.
Yeah we might have to have a daily raffle for the top bunk though.
So, moving on then, your first solo show was a few months ago. How would you say it went?
Overall I would call it a success. I got a good response, people seemed to enjoy the work.
Did any celebrities come out for the opening?
Uh celebrities? … No not this year. At the show I had before that Sebastian Grainger came but no celebrities this time. I saw his girlfriend there this year though.
That’s good. So did all of your work sell?
All but two of the paintings and three of the drawings so I didn’t sell everything but I did pretty well.
Okay but my understanding is that your biggest painting, the masterpiece of the show if you will, didn’t sell.
And what was it priced at?
And were you disappointed?
Honestly I was just glad that I sold as much as I did. I didn’t really know what to expect.
But did you know anyone with an interest in art who would have had that kind of cash lying around? Any famous artists maybe? Someone who’s had multiple book deals maybe and several successful exhibitions in cities all over the world?
Hmm… well there’s Nick I guess.
You mean Nicholas Di Genova your long time friend and mentor?
So you mean if he had wanted to he probably could have purchased the painting?
Yeah but you know he wasn’t at the opening so-.
He wasn’t there? Where was he then?
He was in New York City actually… not a very far commute.
How long of a flight is that?
It’s like 40 minutes. It’s a longer bus ride but it still gets you there in much less than a day and you can get a round trip ticket for as little as $30 if you do your research.
Wow, $30 that’s practically nothing!
And you went to visit him while he was there didn’t you?
But when you had your first solo show, the crowning achievement of your career so far, he couldn’t make the trip.
No he couldn’t.
And then when you needed him the most he wasn’t there for you.
He wasn’t there.
I mean he’s obviously not super rich but he’s got some cash lying around right?
He’s doing alright.
But he chose not to bail you out?
He chose not to bail me out.
So this painting of yours, the greatest product to date of your protégé-mentor relationship had I guess no sentimental value to him?
None. Yeah it’s… you know it’s a little disappointing.
So what is it that he was doing in New York then that kept him from attending your show?
Well Nick had always wanted to live in New York for awhile but at the time of my show he didn’t really have any conflicting engagements or anything. He was probably just sitting in his room working on some drawings.
And how long was he in New York for?
From the beginning of September to almost the end of December so a little over three months.
Okay and would you say that while he was gone you felt like one of the lost boys when Peter Pan leaves Neverland?
Yes, something like that.
And would you say that, when you had your opening and Nick wasn’t there to buy your masterpiece, that you felt like Rufio when he gets stabbed and killed by Captain Hook because Peter Pan doesn’t get there in time to save him?
Yeah, Rufio syndrome was in full effect.
Do you ever wish that someone would confront Nick for you?
Well that would be nice. I don’t know if it’s my place to-
So you’re a little frightened of confronting him?
Yeah, I just don’t know how he’d react. He’s got a bit of a temper.
Okay, so then if you could choose to call him one of the following, which would it be?
1) A boil-dripping, beef, fart-sniffing bubble butt!
2) A fart factory, Slug-slimed, sack-of-rat-guts-in-cat-vomit, cheesy, scab-picked, pimple-squeezing finger bandage. A week old maggot burger with everything on it and flies on the side!
3) A lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food dude.
You know, I mean if you had to pick one…
Well it’s definitely a toss up between two and three. I might go with three.
You mean the lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food?
Yes, I think that best describes him.
But in real life you wouldn’t have the gumption to say that to him?
No, we work in very close quarters.
So now that he’s back, how are things going in the studio?
He tends to pull his weight around the studio, he does his dishes, keeps his section of the studio clean, actually I guess most of the time he just waits until I’m around and then he makes me clean it.
Ooh, so what’s the worst thing he makes you do in terms of cleaning?
There’s nothing too bad. It’s just sort of general tidying.
And who cleans the bathroom?
Hmm… well when that happens it’s usually sort of a group effort.
Okay, moving on now, last year I asked you what the secret was and you said that you had to be serious about your work and surround yourself with other hard working artists while avoiding tyrants who are trying to use you. I’m wondering if you can shed any new light on that question now that some time has passed.
Would you care to elaborate on that?
Yeah, if you put a podcast on it lasts for quite a while and then you can just let it go. When Nick was away I listened to a lot of audio podcasts and it was nice.
So you had a bit more freedom in terms of what you listened to while Nick was away?
And did that affect your work?
Yes, it allowed me a bit more freedom.
You got to spread your wings a little?
Alright so last question: last time we talked I asked if you could recommend a place to get shoes and you took me to a place where I ended up getting shoes and then today I bought a pair of skates which were the first piece of footwear I had purchased since I got those shoes? What do you make of that coincidence?
Hmm… that’s something to think about… I don’t know if I can explain it.
Well is there a place you would have recommended if I had asked you for a place to get used skates?
I probably would have recommended Play it Again Sports at Yonge and Finch.
And that’s the very place I went!
Indeed. So any advice to all the kids out there?
Fantasy novels… and podcasts.
That’s some good advice. Thanks a lot.