Artist Profile: Grace Lang
Images of demons and fantastic beasts fill the paintings of Brooklyn artist Grace Lang. Using an aggressive palette of neon colors and a bold graphic style, the monsters portray her deepest fears and anxieties. The demons have their match in a series of heroine figures she calls “Babes” – warriors that tame the unruly beasts into submission. Her fascination with the grotesque taps into a primal emotional response that is released through art. Lang combines these horrifying images with pop culture references to create a contemporary vision of hell and redemption, a 21st century version of old-school exorcism.
A Brief Interview with the Artist
You have a very specific type of imagery in your artwork – you describe it as “babes, metal, demons, and goo.” How did you get started using these subjects?
I started drawing goo in high school, when I became a little bit preoccupied with bodies and cut off limbs that had substances oozing out of them. I kept dreaming about this black goo that I needed to throw up in order to feel normal and so I found myself doodling goo all over the place. At this point, it’s come to represent more than one specific thing, but I mostly draw it because I just can’t stop. In college, the distorted bodies quickly got pretty demonic as I got more and more into doing band posters. Same goes for the metal influence. The music I was listening to, the books I was reading and the images I was looking at for inspiration throughout college pushed my work into a sorta dark, but fun place. The babes only really came into it about year ago when I began working at the Cotton Candy Machine and spending a lot of time around Tara McPherson’s work, a lot of which focuses on beautiful and strong babes. It made me want to bring some of that powerful energy into my own stuff, but without losing the things I was already compelled to draw. I think now it’s all merging together to form a pretty cool little personal universe.
I like the heroic figures that have appeared in your compositions with the demons. Do you have recurring characters that show up in your work?
Not specifically, but I definitely have recurring character types. With the babe, she usually looks pretty much the same, but I like the change up the hair or body type when I’m using her for different purposes. A few people have said the babe is a version of me and I’m cool with that. The babes are sort of idealized versions of me, doing the badass things I wish I could do, like slaying demons and riding cool beasts. There are also a few different demon types and I think they mean different things to me, but I haven’t figured them out yet. I play with the amount of eyes they have or the type of horns, but I honestly still feel like I need to push them further. I’d like to refine them to a place where some of them become specific characters that recur throughout my work. I just don’t think I’m quite there yet.
Slaying demons and riding beasts does sound pretty cool! I know music is a big influence for you, do you like to listen to anything in particular when you work?
When I want to get into the art zone, I listen to a lot of the same music over and over again. Mostly Nirvana, Slayer, Pentagram and Metallica. I’ve also got some very long playlists with tons of different metal and grunge type stuff. But in the past six months or so I’ve actually been listening to audiobooks much more often than music. I like kinda cheesy thriller/mysteries. They are entertaining and easy to listen to…the kind of books my dad would refer to as “popcorn.”
That’s a sneaky way to introduce a narrative element into your painting! Thanks for giving me some insight into your artwork.
Find more art by Grace Lang at http://www.grooseling.com/