Archives: 2011 November

Complicated, Bedeviling and Elaborate: Greenwalt’s “Alchemist”

So Mr. Scott Greenwalt has been getting quite a bit of (much deserved) press this week and we wanted to share with all of you wonderful people what the news folks are saying.

“Obsessed with decay, and making use of a bold, dark palette, the works on display bring a contemporary take on the horrors that bedeviled medieval minds.” Pete Kane from MSN

“Scott Greenwalt serves up yet another commendable cull of strikingly grotesque portraits plus other scenes from his own personal reality including a couple of cosmic mandalas. He knows the lay of the land; let me assure you. I’m a fan.” Alan Bamberger of Art Business

“Describing San Francisco Bay area based artist Scott Greenwalt’s work is not easy. What would be easy would be sitting in front of his large-scale portraits and landscapes while shrooming.” Angela Casserly from Lost At E Minor

“…Greenwalt’s immense sci-fi inspired paintings reveal a complicated, yet contemporary look at what happens when your imagination runs rampant. “Something About Albert Hofmann”, stands out to define Scott’s psyche, pulling numerous and quite elaborate elements into one cohesive subject.” Micke Tong from SFist.

Something About Albert Hofmann by Scott Greenwalt

Something About Albert Hofmann by Scott Greenwalt

Heck. Yes.

“Alchemist” runs through December 17th, 2011, so come down and get in the know, son!

Only a week left, time to get pumped for Miami!

Here Comes the Neighborhood features the best of the best in Wynwood this December 2011 for Art Basel, Miami. Check it out and get excited!

Interview: Scott Greenwalt

As I try to wrap my head around the works of Scott Greenwalt I continuously find myself spiraling into a mind trip of gore, patterns and the grotesque beauty of these large scale portraits and lanscapes. In an effort to understand the artist intentions and purpose behind the works, we sat down to interview Scott and pick his brain on inspiration, process, history and the psychology of his new collection of works, Alchemist.

Gallery Hijinks: What inspired and motivated your new body of work?

Scott Greenwalt: The last 37 years of life on planet Earth.


GH: Controlled chaos seems to play a role in your paintings, where compositions flow into strange and unexpected directions. Please explain the artistic process.

SG: For quite some time I have been obsessed with depicting action in new ways. A major component of the germination of my ideas is simply time. I usually spend about six months on any one painting from start to finish. I work on several paintings at a time and spend a lot of time just sitting with them, individually as well as grouped together, looking into them to find what they need next. It’s a slow building of incremental growth and change. If everything is comprised of infinitesimal parts in constant motion, how does everything keep from intermingling? My work concerns an alternate dimension where plants, minerals, animals, electrical charges, ectoplasmic effluvium, atmospheric conditions all come together momentarily and form a new being, then move apart into reformed organisms. This process continues infinitely, without ever stabilizing.

Spectral Unfolding by Scott Greenwalt

GH: Do you have an initial idea for the piece, do you sketch or does it just flow from you in an organic way?

SG: I usually have a really vague idea at the outset what the overall form and color scheme will be. Once I actually start painting, the various components build off of one another and later weave back through each other. The paintings are generally grounded in traditional formats of landscape and portraiture. That sets up a loose structure to experiment within. Then I just make shit up as I go along.

GH: Please explain the philosophy behind the portraits? What are some of the inspirations and why?

SG: One of the initial inspirations for the large portraits were the large black and white paintings by Chuck Close. I had been fascinated with them since first seeing “Keith” as a kid at the St. Louis Art Museum. One day, about a year ago, I stood before some of his large works from the last several decades, but I could not take my eyes off one particular portrait. What captivated me was the handling of the subject’s chapped and weathered lips. The more I looked, the more broken down and abstract it appeared, comprised of jagged little triangle forms. This was before his spinal artery collapse and resulting change of approach, but there were the same things going on in those lips that manifested on a looser, more abstract level in his later work. Since I don’t work directly from reference material most of the time, I am faced with the challenge of abstracting something that didn’t exist yet. Rather than breaking down an existing image into abstract units, I am trying to herd disparate abstract units into an understandable, yet alien image.

"Keith" by Chuck Close

"Keith" by Chuck Close

Francis Bacon’s work has been the richest source of inspiration and frustration. How does one go about deconstructing the nature of the human animal, modern life on earth and the history of painting in the wake of such masterful handling of the subject? This problem can keep me up at night. I also spend countless hours ruminating on the work of Hieronymus Bosch.

"Self Portrait" by Francis Bacon

"Self Portrait" by Francis Bacon

"Portrait of Michel Leris" by Francis Bacon

"Portrait of Michel Leris" by Francis Bacon

Detail of "Christ in Limbo" by Hieronymus Bosch

Detail of "Christ in Limbo" by Hieronymus Bosch

Then there is my obsession with the work of special make-up effects artists Rick Baker and Rob Bottin. Growing up watching sci-fi and horror films, mostly from the 80s, was a tremendous influence on everything that I have done artistically. Bottin’s work on John Carpenter’s The Thing may have been the single biggest influence on the way I look at the world.

MIB special effects by Rick Baker

MIB special effects by Rick Baker

GH: How do the paper pieces with wood glue fit into the equation?

SG: I’m interested in what happens to an iconic image after the icon becomes obscured. What happens to the human face when layers build up and obscure the features beyond recognition? If the human head suffers a massive physical trauma, the swelling that results can distort and obscure the signature forms of a once recognizable face. In time, the swelling reduces, the wounds heal and the body returns to it’s normal state. Though a significant transformation has occurred, often scar tissue will be the only visible artifact of this change. With this work, I am concerned with the manufactured transformation that transpires when semi-translucent layers are built up, slowly swallowing up any distinguishing characteristics into an ectoplasmic goo, leaving the remaining robes to swaddle the amorphous slime.

Vaporous Mold Spore with Pearl Earring (after Vermeer)

Vaporous Mold Spore with Pearl Earring (after Vermeer)

GH: The dark, rich, color palate (i.e. red drapes, black backgrounds, earth tones) versus the bright, even neon colors both play an equal part in this collection. Please explain your reasons for using these very different hues and how you’ve made them work together?

SG: For the last few years I had started all of my paintings on a black background to eliminate context. They were like organisms floating within a void. Over time, this void became more densely populated and space began to form. In outer space, each chemical gas reflects a distinct color. As these organisms become more complex in ever expanding space, more chemical reactions take place, generating stranger wavelengths of light.

Seventeen Minutes Prior to This Exact Moment by Scott Greenwalt

Seventeen Minutes Prior to This Exact Moment by Scott Greenwalt

GH: How is art history incorporated into the body of work?

SG: I think about the history of painting, it’s evolution through the centuries, and it’s contemporary potential as a relevant means of expression on a daily basis. I guess, like any revision of history, my vantage is skewed toward my own idiosyncratic aesthetic preferences. I borrow what is useful or interesting to me and generally ignore the rest.

GH: What are five words that would describe your art?

SG: that shit is fucked up.

“Alchemist” Reviews

Huge thanks to the awesome folks at Art Beat and Hi-Fructose for posting their reviews for Scott Greenwalt‘s opening of Alchemist. “Scott Greenwalt creates visually arresting work, a snapshot into the realm of chemical changes and processes as would be seen in a mad scientist’s microscope.” Thank you Hi-Fructose.

Lastly, thank you to Art Beat’s photos from the opening on Saturday.

"Alchemist" opening at Gallery Hijinks

"Alchemist" opening at Gallery Hijinks

Scott Greenwalt at the opening of "Alchemist"

Scott Greenwalt at the opening of "Alchemist"

Scott Greenwalt at the opening of his show

Scott Greenwalt at the opening of his show.

Sneak peak of new works by Andy Diaz Hope & Laurel Roth.

We just received an email from Andy Diaz Hope, giving us a sneak peak at his and Laurel Roth‘s new show at Schroeder Romero & Shredder Gallery in New York titled 2011 opening November 17th.

“2011 humorously references the ambiguous time in our history between the 2001/2010 movies which hint at possible salvation for humanity and the birth of new worlds and 2012 with its predictions that it will bring about the end of the world. It is in this in between time that our show takes place. We’ve been working for over a year on this work and are really excited to share it.”

Below the images, you can find the press release for the show itself. So if you’re in the New York area around November/December, drop in and be amazed.

Andy Diaz Hope & Laurel Roth

"Reflection Engine" by Andy Diaz Hope & Laurel Roth

Andy Diaz Hope + Laurel Roth. Reflection Engine. 2011. 36 x 61 x 92 inches. Made of hand carved walnut, mirror, brass, gold and silver leaf, and flicker bulbs.

"Reflection Engine" interior by Andy Diaz Hope & Laurel Roth

Andy Diaz Hope + Laurel Roth. Reflection Engine (detail of interior) 2011. 36 x 61 x 92 inches. Made of hand carved walnut, mirror, brass, and flicker bulbs.

"Beauty" by Laurel Roth

"Beauty" by Laurel Roth

Laurel Roth. Beauty. 2011.46 x 36 x 67 inches. Mixed media including fake fingernails, barrettes, false eyelashes, nail polish, costume jewelry, walnut, and swarovski crystal.

"Geode" by Andy Diaz Hope

"Geode" by Andy Diaz Hope

Andy Diaz Hope. Geode. 2011. 22 x 12 x 36 inches. Handmade 2 way mirror, mirror, lead, and video.

"Hominid: Mountain Gorilla" by Laurel Roth

"Hominid: Mountain Gorilla" by Laurel Roth

Laurel Roth. Hominid: Mountain Gorilla. 2011. 13 x 9 x 8 inches. Made of walnut and swarovski crystal.

"Centering Device #4" Andy Diaz Hope

"Centering Device #4" by Andy Diaz Hope

Andy Diaz Hope. Centering Device #4. 2011. 36 x 36 x 10 inches. Made of mirror and lead.

“Our show, titled 2011, uses the tableau of a grotto to explore the odyssey and definition of humankind. This grotto was conceptualized with an eye to the longstanding relationship of humankind to caves and the millennia of slow processes that created them even before modern man started his own development towards the present. Grottos are different than caves, though they allude to them. A grotto is a mix of the sacred and the profane – by definition it is artificial to some degree, a man-made enclosure representing the inner world of humankind and intended to mimic an idealized and mythologized underworld. They are spaces meant for relaxation, contemplation, mythology, and sometimes worship. We interpret what our senses perceive, like fire-cast flickering images on cave walls (Plato’s Allegory of the Cave), and use those perceptions to try to locate our place in the larger world. By it’s artificial nature the grotto hints at the limitations of our own human perceptions to perceive infinity and objective reality, while simultaneously paying homage to the attempt to do.

In the center of the gallery lies Andy Diaz Hope’s Infinite Mortal – a large militaristic asteroid that has crashed to earth (or is hurtling away from it, depending on your place in time) bringing with it the illusion of encapsulating the infinite within its matte-black shell. In an alcove towards the back of the gallery is a large collaborative piece, The Reflection Engine, which takes the form of an elaborately carved walnut wardrobe, the inside of which is mirrored like a crystal geode in which you can sit, door closed, and surround yourself with self-reflections in an ever expanding infinity. The Allegory of the Infinite Mortal, also a collaborative piece, is a woven jacquard tapestry depicting the intellectual structures humankind uses to try to understand the infinite. Laurel Roth’s pair of battling peacocks, titled Beauty and assembled out of fake fingernails, barrettes, and costume jewelry, encourage examination of rules of attraction and competition as part of mating and natural selection.

In a facetted gallery cavern hang multifaceted white and mirror sculptures of both futuristic and primitive aesthetics from Diaz Hope’s Infinite Mortal series, reflecting infinite loops of light and video in sculptures based on geological formations. Juxtaposed among these crystal formations, Roth’s carved wood and cast brass primate skulls highlight the evolutionary changes that brought about the numinous transformation into modern humankind. Carved wooden skulls and bones of animals that evolved alongside of us, first hunted and then eventually domesticated, bred, and controlled by humans for use as food are displayed near these offshoots of our own evolutionary path.

All of the work is intended to question what it means to be human on this evolutionary path through time.”

Sebastian Wahl’s Moog Collage Mural

Sebastian Wahl never ceases to amaze me. Check out this extra large collage mural he made for Moog Fest 2011.

Video: Alchemist by Scott Greenwalt

Check out this studio visit with Scott Greenwalt as he prepares for his solo exhibition, Alchemist, at Gallery Hijinks opening November 12th, from 6-10pm and on display until December 17th, 2011.

Shot and edited by Jesse Chandler. Music by Scott Greenwalt.

Gallery Hijinks · 2309 Bryant Street · San Francisco, CA 94110-2810
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