The original canvas Paul Stanley painted was his own face, when he first transformed himself into Kiss' Starchild at a club gig in 1973. Forty-five years later, he's using acrylic paints to create self-portraits of the face behind the makeup.
Stanley recently spoke with New Times about his paintings, which he'll exhibit this weekend at Wentworth Gallery locations in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton alongside limited-edition print artworks and original Plexiglas sculptures. Stanley will also make appearances at both galleries.
The Kiss guitarist was prompted by a friend to take up painting 18 years ago, but it became a serious endeavor about a decade ago. "I never painted with the idea of any kind of exhibitions or anyone seeing it," he says. "I was doing it purely as a kind of cathartic purging. It was never meant for anyone except myself, and I've found in my life that whenever I do things that please me, ultimately, they please other people."
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He learned this after forming Kiss, which he says was born out of "trying to become the band that I never saw." Over the next four decades, the the bandmates merged the musical and the visual, pioneering the high-budget stage-production excess that is now the standard for mainstream touring acts of all genres.
Just as Kiss transformed rock 'n' roll shows, Stanley tries to bring change to galleries. "I love that not only are collectors buying these pieces, but people who've never been to a gallery come in. I think it’s important that somebody break down the barriers of intimidation that critics in particular tend to set up in a very self-serving way. If you believe that you need a critic to tell you what's good, you need to understand the critic has a job and a salary. So when people come in, before they tell me what they like, they have to preface it with, 'I don’t know anything about art.' I go, 'Wait a minute. What do you need to know?' If you like something, it’s good. What someone else thinks is irrelevant... It’s all a matter of personal taste, and you don’t have to justify or explain it. Good art is what you want on your wall, and bad art is what you don’t."
Paul Stanley. 6 p.m. Friday, February 9, at Wentworth Gallery Las Olas, 819 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-468-0685; wentworthgallery.com.
6 p.m. Saturday, February 10, at Wentworth Gallery Boca Town Center, 6000 Glades Rd., Boca Raton; 561-338-0804; wentworthgallery.com.