Check out Cart Before the Horse Tuesday artist, Yellena James!
For the duration of FRGMNTS (February 4th – February 25th, 2012) we will posting short excerpts of interviews held with Matthew Craven as well as photos and recordings about his new work. Keep checking back for more!
Here’s our first question…
GH: Have you always been a pattern person? Especially with your past work dealing with Native Americans, it sometimes looks and feels like your weaving a blanket (such as “Life Totem”). Is this meditative process? What draws you to this as an artist?
MC: Yeah, I have always been a pattern person. As a kid I would relentlessly draw/doodle/deface pretty much anything in front of me. It was only as I got older that I focused that energy into something more engaging and thoughtful. As a result i have been including many cultural reference into my work in the last few years ( i.e. the native American/masonic influence in previous work). The Life and Death Totem drawings were a result of wanting to take what had been doing for years to the next level. I have always found peace in drawing. The repetitive nature of such work is very meditative and satisfying to my soul.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi-Fructose caught up with our girl Pakayla Biehn to pick her brain on her most recent collection of painting. Check out what Miss Biehn had to say about integrating technology into her artistic process, personal inspiration, childhood embarrassments and what to expect from her next!
“Initially the double exposure effect was a direct image of what I experienced, but as I explored the theme more I began to discover a multitude of transcendental issues within the work. Most importantly the passage of time and thought, the eternal and durable, sustainability versus impermanence; these images very much serve as a metaphor for my relationships. Things that are usually, but don’t necessarily have to be, mutually exclusive.
These paintings are already visually confusing and I think that the only honest and clear way to paint them is photorealism. Coming from a mathematics background, I’m most familiar with having a final product known and plugging my variables in to create an equation that is coherent.” Read the entire post here.
This week we deinstalled the Boreas installation by Sarah Applebaum and are getting ready for our next exhibition, Point of Vision. We were sad to see her paper and soft sculptures come down but happy that Redefine kept the ball rolling with an interesting article on Sarah Applebaum.
“Before thrift stores ever entered the fashion mainstream, San Francisco-based artist Sarah Applebaum had already found a second home in them. From shelves and racks full of accumulated junk, she gathered inspiration. She saw how relics of the past could be repurposed into new and exciting creations.” Read the rest here.
Yesterday Meighan O’Toole from My Love For You. launched her most recent podcast interview with the lovely Lisa Congdon. Hearing artist interviews straight from the artists themselves is such an awesome idea and Meighan is certainly on a roll. In this interview Lisa talks about her story as a late bloomer in the art world, her inspiration for her solo exhibition Boreas and well … I wont spoil it all for you. Click here to listen to the podcast on iTunes.
Also check out the Lisa Congdon Studio Visit featured on My Love For You a few weeks back! Her studio will make you jealous.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with artist, David Bayus on his upcoming solo exhibition, Bad Casserole. David’s work is out of this world! Check out what he has to say about his new collection.
Whitney Lasker: Can you talk to us about your upcoming show “Bad Casserole” and the an concept and/or theme?
David Bayus: This body of work focuses on my own desire to develop a personal non-linear narrative based on the excessive, material nature of our existence while using a visual language that I feel best represents that existence. We view objects and images simultaneously as both literal documentative subjects and as representations of personal or cultural meaning. This osculation between the documentative and the representational is the basis of approach to each piece in the show.
The title for the show “Bad Casserole” comes from the title of an early work I did using the mixed media process that I use now. Bad Casserole seemed like a fitting show title.
WL: How do you decide what textures and content you are going to work with?
DB: A large part of the initial process is intuitive, I’ll see an object that catches my attention or I’ll sculpt something that hits the right notes. When I assemble the individual objects together, a narrative emerges, albeit an intentionally non-linear one. From there, the rest of the competition and the final image are centered around that narrative.
WL: Tell us about the materials you use in your art?
DB: Keeping the material qualities of the imagery is important. This aesthetic lends itself to the history of craft; the creation of objects from other objects.
WL: How do you think technology has changed painting?
DB: I think the current advancements in technology are informing painting to a similar degree that photography did when it was invented. The difference being that photography presented us with the documented reality of objects, while the advancements we have today with computer rendering programs for visual media, advances in printing, and the increasing fluidity of digital images themselves; are creating space for new approaches to be considered, I think artists are starting to look at digital media not just as a conceptual basis for making art, but as simply the best tool for the job if needed.
I think digital media has had a more direct influence on photography than its had on painting. The overall result I think is movement towards a merging of disciplines that I think is really exciting. Painting will always have an important role to play. Its singular, performative, and ultimately representational. Photography is reproductive, mechanical, and ultimately documentative. Digital media moves between these qualities freely, but is ultimately synthetic. Painting has qualities that are specific only unto itsef, which is why I like to use all three mediums, not as a conceptual basis, but for thier distinct qualities as images.
That Museum Visit by David Bayus
WL: You mentioned in a past interview that you where saving up for a camera. Can you tell us about this camera and how it has changed your work?
DB: The purchase of my Canon EOS 5d Mark II is probably the most imporant thing to happen to my art practice since I learned how to paint. Before I had my camera, I was using found imagery for digital collages. I was at the whim of whatever I could find that worked for what I wanted to do. Using my own photography has opened up avenues for creating a new visual language, it allows me to control every aspect of the composition, and gives me the ability to add a layer of representation into the objects being photographed that was impossible before. The change in my work after I finally got my hands on that camera has been dramatic.
WL: What is your process from start to finish for each of your pieces?
DB: It generally starts by walking around my apartment, then out into stores, walking the aisles of Safeway, looking for any object (usually utilitarian in function) that catches my eye. After that I’ll bring the objects home and begin creating a narrative. I’ll sculpt objects out of colored paper, clay, colored sticks, food, etc. based on expanding that narrative. After I have a complete composition, I’ll separate each object to be documented. I’ll use different lighting techniques to create atmosphere and photograph each object with my camera. After I’ve uploaded the photos onto the computer, I put the images back together, and then print the final composition and mount it to panel. Then, I’ll mount the panel to stretcher bars and seal the print to get it ready for painting. The painting process is significant because it brings the singular back into the final image. There’s a contrast that occurs when a painting and a photograph are placed together that I’ve always been drawn to. The documentative and the representational. I try to bring that contrast to the lowest point possible by painting the same object that is photographed in a realistic manner. Trying to get the different mediums as close together as possible. But there will allways be that contrast. I want it to be there. Its like two people showing up to a party wearing the same outfit.
WL: What other artist do you think your work draws a parallel with?
DB: I was turned on to the work of Czech Animator Jan Svankmajer this past fall. His animated short “Dimensions of Dialogue” is one of the greatest things Ive ever seen, and instantly drew parallels to my own work.
WL: Color seems to play a large role in your work, please explain the current palate in your recent work.
DB: Well, I think if your a visual artist and your not working in black and white, then color should be an important part of your work! I look at color as a way of creating compositional lines, emphasizing certain areas or making others low key. I approach the color choices in my work based on the local color; whats present in the photography. If I need something to jump out I’ll use a complementary color scheme (i.e. turquoise and orange) and if I want something to sit back I’ll use an analogous or tertiary color scheme.
WL: If you had to describe your work in 5 words what would they be (not a sentence)?
DB: Sculptural. Visceral. Synthetic. Funk. Funk. I like Funk. Can I use Funk twice?
WL: How does your artwork make you feel? How do you think your viewers will feel when you see your collection?
DB: I think a piece is sucessful when I look at it and think that it looks like the description of experiences that I cant put into words. The work is intentionally non-linear an non-illustrative so that each viewer will have different feelings when they look at a piece. I don’t know what viewers will feel when they look at my work, but I know that it will be different than what I feel, and I love that.
As a busy weekend approaches of art auctions, exhibitions, and events, we’ve spotlighted a San Francisco artist who’s taken the surrounding environment and translated it into beautiful paintings for his solo exhibition titled Sunken Dreams. Check out what Robert Minervini has to say about his influences, views on art and upcoming exhibition.
Please join us for the opening reception on May 7th, 2011 from 6-11pm.
Video By Third Street Works.
The Warholian just posted their review of American Mythic exhibition by Peter Gronquist! Along with some very nice words about the exhibition, Mike Cuffe exposes some interesting facts about Peter work in an exclusive interview.
I’m interested in what would seem to be America’s collective view of itself, sort of an imaginary collection of macho icons that are by themselves supposedly patriotic, but when combined create something completely ridiculous. I like the idea that all of these “American” ideals: guns, gold, excess, taxidermy, hunting, titties, red meat, whatever, can come together to achieve a parody narrative of our history and culture. It’s funny because I’m sort of mocking these things, yet I completely love all of these things. I find that most of my work boils down to me mocking myself. I’m fully aware that the shit I love is retarded. – Peter Gronquist
Read the entire review and interview at The Warholian.
Our amazing intern, Whitney Lasker, recently interviewed artist Peter Gronquist about his upcoming show titled American Mythic opening this Saturday April 2nd, 2011. Check out what these guys had to say about inspiration, process and all that bling!
Peter Gronquist: There’s not usually a full cohesive concept to any of my shows except for the very specific gun shows or taxidermy shows. The American Mythic refers to my use of elements in my work that I feel are Awesomely American. Rams head with gold plated m-16 assault rifles, or bambi with a cruise missile strapped to its back. Things that would give Glenn Beck a boner basically. Also will be new paintings and hello kitty hand grenades, in gold or chrome.
WL: How will this show be different from your other shows?
PG: It will be different in that it will have all new stuff. There will also be a lot of differently priced work, from really affordable to really not affordable.
WL: Can you please describe the taxidermy sculpture process, do you kill then stuff the animals your self? I heard you use real guns to gold plate? Is that true and how does one do that?
PG: I don’t actually do the taxidermy part myself. I usually find the animals on ebay. Once I get them I remove the horns and brace the head if needed. Then I form new antlers with wire armature and then finish them with epoxy clay. I usually sand them for like 50 hours, then they get shipped to LA for gold plating. For the taxidermy pieces I do not use real guns because they are too heavy. For the fashion pieces I use real guns for the most part. That involves aquiring the guns, disassembly, mirror polishing each piece and then sending it in for gold plating. It is more boring than it sounds if that is possible.
WL: Do you think any of your pieces belong in a museum if so which ones?
PG: I actually had a piece in a museum for a while. It was the gazelle piece with the ak47 chrome antlers and was about 15′ across. It was only temporary though, but I think it belonged there. I love that piece.
WL: To me your paintings seem very different from your sculptures what’s going on in your mind when you trying to make a painting vs. when you are making a sculptures?
PG: Yeah they are two seperate worlds. I love painting, its something that i just do to do. I think that when I start painting I dont usually have as refined of a concept, because to me its more about the act of painting, whereas the sculpting is more of a means to an end. I like sculpting a lot, but its not like painting.
WL: Have u ever seen Solja Boy’s diamond Lamborghini necklace if so how much do you love it?
PG: Yes and a lot. This is the kind of thing, the most ridiculous over the top piece that I usually parody with my designer guns. It’s almost better when its not a parody and someone just rocks it sans irony. Did you ever see ghostface killah’s eagle bracelet? Amazing.
WL: How did you become a full time working artist? And did art school really have anything to do with it?
PG: I became a full time artist gradually after school. I started an auto painting business first, then gradually tapered that off as my art career got bigger. I don’t know if art school really had anything to do with it. I don’t think art school really taught me very much,it was more like just buying time to work on art.
WL: By the way I really like your Disney font. Would you mind talking a little about it?
PG: Yeah I love that too… turns out its just a photoshop font called Waltography I think… so I guess I can’t take credit for it.
WL: Last but not least what three fictional characters form any place and or time would you chose to be your bodyguards?
PG: Chewbacca, Mickey Morelli the escaped convict from pee wee’s big adventure, Unicron the planet eating robot planet (also easiest unicorn anagram ever).