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Greg Beebe's Art is Sending the Message of Positivity

  • Greg Beebe
January 3, 2019
A philosophy graduate interested in critical theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

Miami-based artist, Greg Beebe is known for spontaneous and thought-provoking abstract works of art which promote the power of positivity and the pursuit of creation in any form. Also a successful financial entrepreneur, Beebe uses his strategic mind to leave the viewer contemplating about what they are truly seeing.

Touched by a range of influences, Greg Beebe’s art is a unique mixture of Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Graffiti art, resulting from a multitude of mediums, ranging from sculptured objects, cement, iconic photographs, to acrylics, spray paints, glitter and glass. Over time, Beebe’s works have evolved into heavy-layered pieces characterized by intense color combinations, heavy textures and unusual mediums. His pieces often contain subliminal messages which are left for the viewer to decipher.

We had a chat with Greg Beebe to find out more about his practice. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, the artist talks about his unique visual language, the influence of pop culture, themes he explores, the messages of positivity, the evolution of his style, and much more.

Greg Beebe - Dreamer II, 2018
Greg Beebe – Dreamer II, 2018

Greg Beebe’s Unique Visual Language

Widewalls: Your works are comprised of multiple layers of mixed media and spray paints, resulting in a fusion of styles. How would you best describe your visual language?

Greg Beebe: My visual language is one of many dialects, I start with one region and morph it into another region then morph the combination into another region. I suspect as I continue to create artworks the language will continue to merge additional styles while maintaining some level of clarity as to all the source styles I’ve integrated. My regions include; abstraction, collage, pop, street, and photography. 

I want to create a sense of involvement in my work and I try to achieve this with layers and colors that push out of the work into the minds of the viewer. I want my visual language to be as tangible as possible.

Widewalls: Your art is a unique tribute to popular culture. How do you think popular culture shapes and impacts our everyday life experience?

GB: It’s everything to most. I try to think above it as much as I can to maintain some level of individualism, but I still wear skinny sweats and care about brands, lol. I think leveraging popular culture is a good way to relate to the mass, including myself, to get a message out.

Greg Beebe - NYC Lunchin', 2017
Greg Beebe – NYC Lunchin’, 2017

Sending the Message of Positivity

Widewalls: What are the themes which draw you the most?

GB: I primarily create artwork for myself, if someone wants to purchase it, that’s great. With that said, my themes are primarily directed around things I want to surround myself with. Those themes consistently include motivational messages around success, dreaming and accomplishing those dreams and thinking bigger.

To put it simply, to a large extent, I want to create work that I could look at right before starting my day and take some positivity away from it. I’ve certainly done pieces without the above message but high level the above is what I enjoy creating the most.

Widewalls: It would seem that your central message is positivity. Could you elaborate on this?

GB: As I’ve already said, my work is created for myself, it’s something I would hang up around my home, office or studio. I need to be constantly motivated to run the companies I own and manage, to continue to dream bigger, to manage time needed to create artwork and to force time to generally live life outside of a “work” scenario. The messaging helps me focus and keeps me continuously concentrated on accomplishing goals and living the best life I can.

Widewalls: Could you tell us something about your working process? How do the ideas of these juxtapositions come to you?

GB: I plan each piece I create. Part of my obsession with organization. I come up with a theme, then identify objects, materials, photo opportunities, messages, etc., that support the theme. I draft up my dream on paper to help visualize it as my work is done in layers. Once I have all my materials which could include; photos, magazines pages, hand-made stencils, street posters, other collage materials, etc.

I begin putting it all together, painting images, spray painting designs, pasting collages items. I almost always forget that I had a draft of the work already created but by the time I start creating the work the vision is already ingrained into my head. The pieces evolve in a way I feel support the theme, it’s all about the theme. My work almost always has depth and color.

In general, I feel depth and color usage help blow the theme off the work and I often use resin which amplifies the colors even more.

Greg Beebe - You A Star, 2016
Greg Beebe – You A Star, 2016

The Evolution of Style

Widewalls: How has your expression evolved over time?

GB: It takes time becoming comfortable expressing yourself through a medium that a large audience of friends, family and strangers see, at least it did for me. I started promoting my work to the general public with a focus on abstraction. For me abstract art is safe, everyone can interpret it differently.

I will say that I significantly enjoy creating abstract works as they can often create themselves, they don’t need significant planning or emotion, all that happens during the creation. It’s a freedom of sorts. The more work I did, the more shows I attended, the more influence from other established artists I received, the more I wanted to create personal work. That evolution included specific materials, messages and styles and an open way of creating artwork from start to finish.

Widewalls: Who are the artist who inspired you along the way, and whose work do you appreciate now?

GB: Inspiration early in my career was obtained from artists like; Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter, however; as my style and skill set grew, I lost a level of appreciation for the skills required to splatter and smear paint on canvas and grew somewhat frustrated knowing the success of such artists was really generated by a questionable market of art traders and investors.

The artists I appreciate now are the up and coming ones (or at least were when I started following them), the ones taking risks and not simply creating the same cartoon character or calligraphy words repeatedly, artists like Skyler Grey, Dain, Stikki Peaches, Vhils. I still follow Mr. Brainwash as well.

Widewalls: Could you reveal some of your future plans and projects?

GB: I’m currently working on several commission pieces for a handful of hip-hop artists, athletes and comedians and unfortunately the pieces can’t be promoted until they are delivered. The pieces are essentially portraits but using my crazy style. Outside of the above, I’m creating some pieces excluding the pop culture focus, excluding the pop art themes and going back to my abstract roots with a bit of a kick.

I want my messages to rain clear, but I want to create some pieces with less direction and organization. The pieces will be heavy in collage and texture but lighter on color, it will be a big focus on materials and detail as well as a message. I feel like I’ve drifted into a more mainstream direction with use of certain characters and images in my work and I want to escape that and reignite more original methods of creating art.

Featured image: Greg Beebe. All images courtesy the artist and Addicted Art Gallery.