“Want to hear something interesting about neon?” artist Aaron Axelrod asks. “The only color that actually is neon gas is red.” He points around the gallery space at West Hollywood’s Roseark, where his newest series, String Theory, is hung. The works feature splattered, dripping paint atop reflective, patterned canvases.
“I’m inspired by other things,” Axelrod says. “Nature, music, science, movies.” He points around at the work. “This is inspired by string theory, an astrophysics kind of thing.” He elaborates on the subject, that humans are all here randomly, without a grand plan or godly vision. He doesn’t know if this is fact, is entranced by the possibility. Hence, a body of work where neon tubing represents the smallest elements of the universe like atoms broadcasting their light over the “puddles of randomness” that they’re creating.
His performances, like his paintings, allude to a process and a thinking. To him, the finished piece isn’t what the focus since it is the act of making that he values most. “Everything is about the process rather than the final work,” he says. This, in a way, brings out his bunny ear wearing way as he hopes to invite you down a rabbit hole, taking a cue from Alice In Wonderland. It also sets a tone, for himself and others, to let loose and get weird. He has two pairs of ears too: the original, made by an ex-girlfriend and inspired by Gummo, to be worn while performing and a fancy, Swarovski studded pair to be worn at openings and events, to evoke performance with a different sort of flash.
The latter, while great, do have crystalline problems. “They’re so heavy,” he explains. “They’re probably eight pounds! I can’t hear when I’m wearing them either.” He laughs. “But they look really cool!” Axelrod intends to continue deeper into his practice by basking in light: He’s developing works that involve painting in three dimensions, using technology like Google’s Tilt Brush to create light sculptures in space. “That’s the next formation, evolution, of the practice,” he says, recognizing it as just another tool he would use.
The only difference, to him, is that these sculptures light up when you plug them in. These works aren’t necessarily neon but light, in general, which he has another scientific draw for him. “When you’re outside, in the forest, and a light bulb turns on, every bug, in their own way, is attracted to it,” he says. “Humans are attracted to light too. They’ll go towards the light.”
“This is maybe my way of forcing people to come to [the art],” he adds, “to look at it and to experience it.”