A Handle on Art

Aaron Rose Packs A Punch With His Psychedelic Painted Luggage

Aaron Rose is perhaps best known as a curator. In the 1990s his New York gallery Alleged and touring show Beautiful Losers (followed by a documentary of the same name in 2007) brought underground artists such as Harmony Korine, Barry McGee and Shepard Fairey to public attention, championing a DIY aesthetic informed by their various backgrounds as skaters, punk rock fans and graffiti writers. But Rose is also an artist in his own right: his first show at Alleged was of his own trippy paintings, which incorporate vibrant colors, texts, magic spells and mandala-like geometric shapes. When he first became a dealer of others’ work he felt a conflict of interest and put his brush to rest. But after Alleged closed in 2002 he reignited his creative passion. “Now I’m not dealing, it felt safe to go back into the water,” he says. In his upcoming show at Circleculture in Berlin, opening July 24, he has a particular obsession: painting on suitcases. “Suitcases from the 50s to 70s were manufactured in such interesting color palettes—these incredible mustard yellows and army greens,” he says. “Nobody wants that kind of thing anymore—it felt the perfect thing to paint on.” Rose calls the works (some of which are stuffed with surprise goodies for buyers to walk away with) "object paintings," displaying them on pedestals in the spirit of Duchamp. Art historical references aside, the show’s conceptual slant is psychological, personal even. “It’s my baggage,” says Rose. “The exhibition is going to be very much a confession, what all my problems are.”

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