NYC Artist Stef Duffy on Surrealism, Erotica, and the Absurd World

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Duffy's provocative take on the world, culture, and sexuality is as spectacular as it is irreverent, & unapologetically honest.

NYC Artist Stef Duffy on Surrealism, Erotica, and the Aburd World
NYC Artist Stef Duffy on Surrealism, Erotica, and the Aburd World | All rights reserved by artist, shared with permission

Heading to Reis Studios to meet and interview Stef Duffy was an artistic journey in itself. Not knowing where I was going, just following the GPS on my phone as it had us weaving in and out of industrial sections of the area. I'm always drawn in by the straight lines of commercial buildings and the sleekness of the concrete walls and I enjoyed our journey. Finally, we began noticing those painted with outward pourings of emotion and knew we were getting close.


The area in Long Island City, where the studio stands, is now New York City’s most exciting and growing arts district. The studio itself houses over 200 hundred artists from 35 nations aiming to develop an environment where artists, collectors, curators, writers, designers, and architects can come together to develop progressive ideas and advanced techniques in their respective fields.


A painting entitled 'Lee' by the artist Steff Duffy
'Lee'



A painting entitled 'Oh Claire' by the artist Steff Duffy
'Oh Claire'

I had the rare treat of being introduced to Stef by a mutual friend and can assure you the artist behind the brush is as complex as the painting he puts upon the canvas, no matter if he’s working on something surreal or psychological in theme.


Meeting an artist at their studio is a bit deeper than simply nodding hellos and exchanging pleasantries. You have been allowed in their zone. A place where they bleed their emotions, and that is usually done in private. Being invited in is a privilege.


From the moment he came down the elevator to retrieve us I was at ease. This guy was putting on no heirs; he was as real as they come. Hair a bit disheveled, tanned skin glistening - proof that he had been upstairs working. He was warm and welcoming and his eyes shone with sincerity.

Cermaic art by Steff Duffy
Surreal Ceramic Art by Steff Duffy


Artist Steff Duffy Paints in Studio
Duffy Painting in Studio

I learned more about him from listening than I did from speaking with him. Watching the reunion between him and our mutual friend surpassed heartwarming. They hadn’t seen each other in 30 years, and as soon as they laid eyes on each other it was as if not a minute had passed. Listening to them talk about college and old friends and how they have grown as people since then was wonderful. They continued to apologize assuming I was bored, but I was loving every minute of it. I was getting everything I wanted, and I hadn’t said a word.


When we began touring the studio and looking at some finished pieces I was even more in awe of the talent this artist has. Seeing the work up close, every brushstroke, and how it plays into the next was fantastic. It’s not just a matter of artistic talent but, imagination as well. Landscapes are beautiful but Stef Duffy’s paintings are the type of work you can get lost in. Your mind wanders to a place it’s never been, and you realize it’s a destination you want to revisit. From figuratism to realism and psychological pieces to works of erotica, Stef’s work is like an amusement park for the mind.

A painting entitled 'Duel' by NYC artist Steff Duffy
'Duel'




While we continued to chat, he told stories of his days after college. His highs, his lows, and some in-betweens. Some of it was exciting, some of it was dark. None of it is for me to tell. If Banksy can be such a mystery then Stef Duffy can keep his private life private.


Some things I took away from our time together that I feel are important to share. Stef had various jobs after college and didn’t make art a priority. It wasn’t until he was 40 that he decided to follow his heart and his passion and dive in 100%. Personally, that gave me a lot of motivation. That and his words to me, “It’s never too late.” I left him with a renewed energy that day. A better outlook for the future and more confidence in myself. He’s right, it’s never too late to follow a dream.


This practitioner of the arts is New York through and through. He was born and raised in New York City and went to Skidmore College to study art. He has a huge dog that is part of the family and he highly respects his mother. Also, if she tells him to eat an empanada, he will eventually have to eat it, whether hungry or not. That’s about all I am willing to share. Let his artwork tell you the rest; there is a story to be told in all of them.



To view and purchase his art, visit Instagram or his website.


All rights to artwork displayed are reserved & retianed by the artist, shared with permission

Artwork entitled, 'Berkinhead' by Steff Duffy
'Berkinhead' by Steff Duffy

A painting by Steff Duffy of fancy woman holding a handbag made of human skin, surrealism
The handbag series, by Steff Duffy

Artworkby Steff Duffy of fashionable woman holding a handbag made of human skin, surrealism

Surreal artwork by Steff Duffy of fashionable woman holding a handbag made of human skin

Artwork by Steff Duffy of a hip punk rocker wearing a backpack made of human skin, surrealism

Artwork by Steff Duffy of fashionable woman holding a handbag made of human skin, part of the handbag series

A painting by Steff Duffy of fashionable woman holding up a handbag made of human skin, surrealism
Another edition of the handbag series

A photorealistic painting of a bleeding man, by NYC artist Steff Duffy
Photorealism, Art by Steff Duffy

Erotica artwork on paper by Steff Duffy
Artwork on Paper, Erotica

Artwork, Erotica by Steff Duffy
Erotica

Paitning by Steff Duffy
'The Doorchester'

A painting by Steff Duffy enttitled 'You Are the Meaning of Love'
'You Are the Meaning of Love'

A surreal painting of a pregnant doll sitting before blue-colored smoke columns
Steff Duffy's 'Madonna and Child'

Picture of NYC artist Steff Duffy in his studio
NYC artist Steff Duffy

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