Artist Spotlight: Gregory Siff

The Ultimate Summer Treat Comes From “The Ice Cream Man”

Artist Gregory Siff currently lives and works in Los Angeles but he grew up on the beaches of Long Island. He’s collaborated with hip hot recording artist Swizz Beatz, Vans, Helmut Lang and more and has been exhibited at the MoMA and Whitney. While as an adult he has been wildly successful doing what he loves – painting, his most recent exhibition draws from his childhood. Gregory took some time to tell Hamptons Monthly how simpler, youthful days inspired this latest exhibit and why it’s something to see before the summer is over.

Gregory SiffYour solo exhibition, “Portrait of an American Ice Cream Man” is now on view in East Hampton. Can you give us a little background of the show and what we’ll see?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Rockaway Beach where the Ice Cream Man would thrive during the summer. He was the guy that everyone on the block would lose their mind about. We would hear his music coming down the block after boogie boarding all day and the chase to him was just as much fun as finishing the cone. The more I paint these days the more I feel like the Ice Cream Man. In Los Angeles, I have been painting every day creating works since I moved there in 2010. The constant output is how I survive. The lives of the people I meet through my art and how become some of my best friends.

You’ve said “A chocolate milkshake could heal anything, just like a good painting.” What three adjectives would you use to describe a milkshake that also applies to your art?

Thick. Creamy. Forever.

Why is this exhibit a good fit for the Hamptons demographic? What about it do you think will most speak to the viewer?

I never target my art. I just make the things I would like to see on my wall and the things that make me feel good. I think that the Hamptons is a great spot to share my art because I am at home with the peace and clarity of the ocean and beach that I grew up on. Also, Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock’s house is a 7-minute ride from Gallery Valentine where my show is being exhibited. I feel at home being close to where some of the greatest Abstract Expressionist canvases (female and male) were created.

For someone unfamiliar with your style, how do you summarize your approach?

Expressionism that is rooted in the ups and downs of a life. I approach each painting as I am that
day or night, at that moment. What’s real IS real. I also create from the ground on my knees as a kid would play with action figures and wield his imagination.
Gregory Siff_2

Where or from what have you most recently found inspiration?

I have found a lot fire in the Radiohead music, transitional periods in life and love and I always find inspiration in things that make you feel good and happy…ICE CREAM!

The summer is winding down, if someone was asking why going to see this exhibition should be on their itinerary before it’s over what’s the pitch you’d make?

These canvases were transported from Downtown Los Angeles. It’s a rarity for me to see a body of work that was created on the West Coast shared here. It’s like I painted these in the City that I became a man in and now they are being exhibited where I was a child. Be a child with me and remember what it was like to feel the nostalgia of a time when nothing was more important than the ocean, your friends, ice-cream and how beautiful this world really is when you execute the negative and indulge on the positive. I am so proud to share these selections with you.

On view at the Gallery Valentine (33 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 631.329.3100)