In Conversation with Artist Arnold Butler – The Painting Storyteller.
It’s incredibly difficult to not be attracted to the work of Arnold Butler. His distinct visual style incorporates various shapes, colours and tones, as he uses unconventional silhouettes and to create larger-than-life highly emotive abstract and astonishing works. And as is the natural progression of attraction, we were as equally drawn to his artist persona as we were his art. Intrigued, we briefly chatted with the artist and storyteller also known as ab2ether about the spiritual nature of his work, his life philosophies, and his interest in leading a natural and holistic lifestyle through his home cultivated garden.
In a few sentences, can you give a brief description of yourself, a bio or artist statement. Who is ab2ether? Where did that name come from?
Arnold Butler is an auto-didactic painter and photographer hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. For Arnold, creating art is akin to the act of translating unfiltered emotions. The work is not about receiving money or accolades, but instead honesty, love and pure intentions. “Simply stated,” he has said, “I don’t paint pictures, I paint my prayers for the Universe to see and hear them.” These words written by Niama Sandy best describe my essence.
In regards to the name ‘aB2ether’, that comes from my fascination with the beyond (ether). I don’t paint to inspire people (People are cool, but they don’t inspire me). I create in hopes of inspiring a universe that keeps inspiring me.
How did you find yourself becoming an artist? In what ways would you describe your journey as an artist thus far?
Honestly, I don’t consider myself an artist. I consider myself as more of a storyteller and I use different mediums to tell these stories. Different interpretations describing the same beautiful feelings.
In regards to my journey, that’s hard to describe because I approach art in an unconventional manner. I don’t paint pictures – I only paint my prayers. Art is my therapy. I seek art not in the hopes of painting a pretty picture, but rather I seek art like a sinner in need of a divine revelation.
How would you describe your style of painting? Who or what most influences your work?
My style is no style. I paint what I feel and I don’t give a shit about the opinions of others. I mean that in the most respectful way because once I liberated myself from the judgement of others, I became the artist I was destined to be.
On your website, I came across this powerful statement: “I don’t paint pictures, I paint my prayers for the Universe to see and hear them.” Can you elaborate on this? Is art and the process of both creating and absorbing art something spiritual to you?
Like I stated previously, art is more of a spiritual practice for me. Similar to praying, I can only approach art with a honest and humble heart. I paint my personal truth on canvas similar to the truth a believer reveals in a prayer. Radcliffe Bailey once told me that the key to making masterful art is to “make your art so personal that it becomes universal.” I’m pretty locked in on that message.
Beyond the canvas, you seem to be an avid gardener or grower of sorts. Can you tell us more about your natural lifestyle?
I live a natural lifestyle because that’s the way many African people have always lived. I’m just keeping up with family tradition.
How would you describe your philosophy as an artist?
Step 1. Breath
Step 2. Create
Step 3. Fuck what people think.
Original Interview Along With More Images