Artist of the Week: Andrew Brischler
Andrew Brischler (b. 1987, Long Island, NY) lives and works in New York, NY.
Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts MFA program in 2012, Brischler’s work has appeared in exhibitions throughout New York City and abroad. In 2012, Brischler opened his first solo exhibition, Goodbye to All That, at Gavlak Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. That same year, Brischler’s work was featured in New American Paintings #98: Northeast Edition. In 2013, he was included in the exhibition 39greatjones curated by Ugo Rondinone at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, Switzerland; he contributed work to the Whitney Museum of American Art Benefit Art Party Auction, and he was featured in a two-person booth alongside photographer David Haxton with Gavlak Gallery at NADA New York. In October 2013, Brischler was awarded a 2013 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Arts Grant.
Currently, Brischler just opened his second solo exhbition with Gavlak Gallery in November 2013 as well as be featured in Gavlak Gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach this December. In addition, Brischler’s work will be included in a group show This is the Story of America focusing on young New York painters at Brand New Gallery in Milan, Italy, and in January 2014, Brischler will contribute a new large scale painting to a major group survey, Painting: A Love Story, at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Texas.
Andrew Brischler is represented by Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Andrew Brischler. I grew up on Long Island, received my BFA from SUNY New Paltz in 2009, and received my MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2012. I used to say that I was an abstract painter, but recently I’ve dropped the “abstract” part––something just didn’t sound right about it. So I’ll just say that I’m a painter.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? First of all, I’d just like to come clean and fess up to being a proud subscriber of cable television, a fact which I’ve become increasingly shameful about being a twenty-something living in Brooklyn. Right now, I’m totally immersed in American Horror Story: Coven (Angela Bassett hasn’t channeled vengeance this expertly since her seminal role in Waiting to Exhale), and if I’m not at my studio on Sunday afternoons, I usually find myself entrenched in an hours-long Roseanne marathon on WEtv; Roseanne is, without a doubt, my favorite sitcom and continues to stay, almost 15 years after it’s series finale, totally relevant.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I think any young artist with some semblance of “buzz” around his or her work deals with a level of doubt and dread. Honestly, I constantly struggle with issues of self-worth, the work never feeling really good enough (whatever that means), and how it fits––if at all––into the dialogue of the New York art world. It’s a balancing act; you want to make work that will get you noticed but is also still inexplicably, deeply you. And then I look at these guys with an incredible amount of white heat around them––Lucien Smith, Sam Falls, Jacob Kassay, Oscar Murillo—who two years ago made work in relative obscurity and are now being thrown around by mega galleries, seeing work they made 12 months ago up at auction, and they’re still expected to make good work? It all makes my head spin.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? My work takes notions of weakness as an abstract painter and connects them to my own personal feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness as a gay man. To that end, I recycle standard tropes of abstraction. Hard edged geometry, super-saturated color gradients, bold stripes, and thick bands of impastoed paint are isolated onto studio-beaten canvas, and embedded with pieces of contemporary culture like fragments of typography, nonsensical doodles, and titles culled from hip-hop lyrics. The finished paintings are at once pieces of cultural detritus as well as documents of my own uneasiness: images that conflate definitions of success and failure, chance and contrivance, aloofness and emotional unraveling.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I’m really devoted to traditional materials––oil paint, acrylic paint, colored pencils, markers, and graphite. My process is usually driven by an initial image in my head inspired by anything from the typeface of a movie poster to color combinations in Paul Klee’s early work. Then it’s just about execution, and depending on the type of piece I’m working on, the execution can take anywhere from a week (my recent Air paintings are all about 5-6 glazes of oil paint on smoothly gessoed canvas) to 2-3 months for the colored pencil drawings on panel; the colored pencil pieces are exhausting, frustrating, tedious, and seriously painful for my hand; that notion of labor, discipline, self-sacrifice, and slow punishment is so important to the conceptual success of them.
What artists are you interested in right now? This is a short mix of all time favorites and current obsessions: Mary Heilmann, Alex Katz, Wade Guyton, Bjarne Melgaard, John McCracken, David Wojnarowicz, Cindy Sherman, Dana Schutz, Ed Ruscha, Mark Grotjahn, Matt Connors, Wendy White, Rob Pruitt, Joe Bradley, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, Ugo Rondinone, Christopher Wool, and last but certainly not least, my boss, Marilyn Minter.
How has your work developed within the past year? I think my practice has made a complete 180-degree change since finishing grad school in May 2012. I went straight from undergraduate school right into my graduate program, which meant that until recently I had never made work outside of an academic context––that is to say, without constant engagement with peers, professors, visiting critics, and those latent trends in painting that develop subconsciously within art schools. Since then, I’ve begun making work in a bigger, brighter, completely private studio, and the change has been dramatic. The work has gotten bigger, cleaner, become significantly more labor intensive, and has shifted away from the trend of “provisional painting” that I and many of my peers embraced. I’ve really become invested in the craft of painting and drawing––how the slow build up of material with my hands creates a deep, embedded sense pathos to the object.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? The Martin Creed shows up now at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Hauser & Wirth are pretty amazing. I haven’t seen the Mike Kelley show at MoMA PS1 yet, but I’m going to preemptively say that one will definitely be a game changer for me.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Without a doubt, my guilty pleasure in the studio is a two-pack of brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts from the bodega around the corner.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? One word: SoulCycle.
What are you listening to right now? On current heavy rotation: Lady Gaga, ARTPOP (it isn’t good, but “Gypsy” is revelatory); Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin on WNYC; the Mary J. Blige Christmas Album, A Mary Christmas; CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe; Janet Jackson, Number Ones; Madonna, Bedtime Stories; and most recently, the score to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, composed by Ennio Morricone.
Artist of the Week: Cody Tumblin
Cody Tumblin is a Chicago based artist from Nashville, Tennessee. He is a recent recipient of a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From his background in graphic design, Cody approaches his practice with a nod to type, semiotics, and the like. Generic decorative icons and subtle cryptic messages become inflated into uncertain mosaics of pattern, image, shape, contour and line. His time outside the studio is spent seeking out the best food in Chicago, expanding his library, collecting artwork and printed ephemera, and constantly watching any and all horror movies with his wife, Kayl Parker. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at The Salon for The Salon Series, SHIT IS REAL at Devening Projects + Editions (2013), a two person show, Pile Hunk Stage, with Kayl Parker at Gallery X (2013), Crossing the Palisades at SAIC (2013), and The Prospective Series pop-up gallery at Untitled (2013).
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in a small town just south of Nashville, TN and lived there until I came to school at SAIC in Chicago, where I live now with my wife, Kayl Parker, also an artist. Although I’m considered the artist in my family, my older brother was on the news for his artwork when he was in 4th grade. Ironically now, he’s pursuing his PhD in history, and I’m the one pursuing a career in the art world. I went from pursuing an English major, to the fashion department, to the visual communications/design world, and finally to just art. Ultimately though, my foundation is design-based. Learning that kind of approach and skillset really informed how I make art and how I read aesthetics.
I enjoy “floating” between the art and design worlds, and seeing where things meet up/ keeping up with trends and work on both ends is a large part of my routine.
I constantly absorb anything and everything at all times. I definitely admit I’m a bit of a social media nerd, and alongside running two of my own blogs, twitter acct, etc. I check at least 20+ blogs daily, alongside a few journals/magazines I can get my hands on. You know, there’s always a lot of conversation on how an artist should either be aware of what’s going on or completely ignore all the hype, all the trends and just make. But I’ve always loved pouring over images and text. It really fuels my practice. Aside from that, I work at Whole Foods right now haha.
But I’m primarily a painter. I make dyed paintings with dye on cotton. And do a bit of this and that, drawing here and there. I stick to simple images and color is a huge backbone of my practice. Bits and pieces things come together. I like to think it’s not all so complicated.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? Typically, I try to force my work to portray a kind of attitude, something similar to the way Rebecca Morris’s Abstract Manifesto conveys a “fuck everything and go for it” kind of façade. “BLACK AND BROWN: THAT SHIT IS THE FUTURE.” I really enjoy it when work has this kind of persona. But typically, to gear myself into a kind of mode, I begin with drawing tons of thumbnails and wireframes. Just generating out crap, pushing out lots of similar compositions and images until I get into a good “zone” and things start to feel right. Sometimes words in all caps, sometimes there’s poetry and sentences. I like to use the word “shitty” a lot, and it comes up a lot in my drawings. It conveys the dumbness of the imagery/ drawing style while simultaneously carrying that attitude I mentioned earlier. So the work has to reflect that. I like it when the forms and space don’t sit quite right, so I try and keep myself sort of unbalanced.
Alongside the thumbnails, I keep a huge folder full of iPhone snap shots and things I drag off of blogs––things like snippets of a shitty screenprint of corn cobs on a box, to lots of posters/flyers, border motifs, “KISS” carved into cement outside my apartment. Mostly it’s design based. Type, design, and the forms that come along with editorial spreads and book covers really get me going. So I keep those handy when I’m generating my imagery.
All of this eventually boils down into something that agrees with me, and I put it into final production. This consists of preparing the fabric, lots of washing and ironing, mixing the dyes, getting the colors right. This is usually the easy part because I’m just laying down color/plotting things out and editing things out of/into the fabric until things balance out.
What are you reading right now? Well I just finished Ender’s Game haha. I was rereading it in prep for the movie (which was horrible, don’t see it) because I hadn’t read it since middle school. I’m always reading something of Stephen King’s. Usually his short stories. But I also just finished Joshua Abelow’s A Painter’s Journal, which was excellent. It was a bit like the soap opera of an Artist’s Life. But I loved it. Mostly just because it was exciting to peek into his life for me.
What artists are you interested in right now? That’s always tough. I’m always absorbing other people’s work. Every time I see work I like, I make a folder with the artist’s name and drag images into it. Same goes for new work of artists I already have. So I have a pretty hefty library of a few hundred folders by now.
But primarily, I always come back to Gary Hume. Got to see/learn quite a bit about him while I lived in London for 6 months. Joshua Abelow is also a constant presence in my mind. His work is phenomenal. Really nails it. And I check ART BLOG ART BLOG every day, usually 2-3 times haha. Christopher Knowles drawings are a huge one. Others would be Josh Smith, Henning Bohl, Allison Katz, Daan Van Golden, Arturo Herrera to name a few. Also, David Shrigley is another artist that I really look up to. It’s brilliant, flawless work, and it has a presence and attitude that most art will never be able to portray.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I recently found this book called “The X Directory: Kink Cards 1984/1994” while I was studying at Goldsmiths in London 2 summers ago. I bought it immediately. Amazing scans of kinky business cards that were taken from London telephone booths and street signs, advertising all sorts of devious acts and sexual desires of your wildest dreams. The typefaces, arrangements, and images are just brilliant, and at the same time they’re very naïve and DIY looking, much like punk zines. Most them are just made on Xerox machines. I can’t get enough.
Other things are those enormous mind blowing ornate drop caps found in old Manuscripts. Also, generally horror movies. My wife and I are always watching horror movies.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I like to keep a little mystery shrouded around my current work, but there’s definitely a lot of something “new” going on. I’ve been building a new series of paintings that rely more directly on type and more recognizable imagery. Things that think/feel like icons. I’ve been embracing my writing a bit more. I am also juggling a few newer things outside of my paintings that are weird. There might be some steel stuff in the near future. I’ve also been investing back into drawing more than anything, and making these sort of odd abstracted “flash sheets” with ink, which are getting translated into some interesting projects that I’m stoked about.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? 1) ART BLOG Like I said, I love Joshua Abelow’s work, and I love art blogs. So this is a 2 for one deal. He keeps really up to date with the art world and pulls out some random things occasionally. Always interesting.
2) Gilded Beast, Half Man Half Skeleton (my own blogs). My blogs and the blogs that influence them are a big part of my life. I enjoy building up a repertoire of artists and seeing what others are doing. I enjoy the community surrounding them.
3) Amazon.com. Kayl and I buy a lot of stuff online. And we’re huge book freaks so I have a huge, HUGE wishlist just full of artist monographs, cookbooks, zines, and the like. (If you want to get me anything for Christmas, just look there.)
Who is your ideal studio mate? Well right now it’s my wife, Kayl Parker. And honestly that’s the most ideal. It’ll probably always be this way. We get along really well, obviously. And since she’s a studio photographer, she’s rarely in the studio to take a photo, so our schedules balance out nicely. I like to sit in there by myself and work a bit, listen to some metal or rap, eat some chocolate covered pretzels, draw.
Describe your current studio or workspace I actually love our studio. We just started renting it in October. Little room in a large building full of other artists. Tall white walls with a big double window. Everything is Ikea. Ikea table, Ikea broom, Ikea glasses, Ikea Shelves––full of dyes, chemicals, rubber gloves, bottles, graduated cylinders, scales. It looks a bit like a science lab. We have a nice little fridge for Kayl’s film and my dyes. We always keep some Cheerios, peanut butter, granola bars, crackers and chocolate on deck. I also keep part of my loose leaf tea and tea cup collection there for civil enjoyment. Other than that there’s a big Ikea table with all my drawings, boxes full of fabric and color samples, and all of Kayl’s photo stuff––lights/poles/backdrops just hanging out in the corner. But we like to keep it clean and orderly. I like to sweep and pace around like I’m on to something.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? For the moment, no immediate shows are ahead which is nice. I just finished a solo show with The Salon Series and an awesome group show at Devening Projects + Editions earlier this year. I’m just building up work and taking my time, eating junk food in the studio and singing to Jay-Z. The usual. But I’ve been working on two secret collaborative projects with some artist/designer contacts recently, so you might hear about those soon. Top secret area 51 stuff.
Artist of the Week: Chris Nosenzo
Chris Nosenzo is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He works in a variety of media as well as publishing a biweekly art publication called Packet.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from Pratt Institute in 2011. Since graduation I’ve primarily worked in the art department of weekly magazines, first the New York Times Magazine, then Bloomberg Businessweek where I’ve been since last August.
Last year I began a biweekly art publication called Packet. We’ve produced 21 issues to date, with work from dozens of artists and writers. I also maintain a practice of my own work including photo, drawing, digital painting and publishing projects.
Who is your ideal studio mate? A few Aaliyah LPs. Maybe some Missy too. Also, a few little plants are always nice. I just got a cactus that looks like a lumpy crocodile.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Recently reprinted a book I made comparing the work of Yves Klein to Tobias Fünke of Arrested Development. It’s the “Revised and Expanded Second Edition" with additional content from the new season of Arrested Development and a more comprehensible critical essay thanks to editing from Christine Zhu.
Have been doing a lot of digital painting and drawing as well, both in an ongoing project called Black Goth Paintings, or just one off works in RGB. I got into digital painting in high school and it has been rewarding to revisit the medium with a different set of ideas almost 10 years later. So many cool photoshop filters to mess with now too.
I also just finished a project following the news of Syrian chemical attacks. For about two weeks I photographed my computer screen while visiting websites covering the “Crisis in Syria.” I’m fascinated by method and context in which we discover about “news,” this sort of flattened globalism. Personally I feel very far from truly relating to what happens in Syria on any level, and I wanted to bring that to tension with what is presented to us in western media.
Of course Packet is my biggest project. Just put out our first issue with Nicole Reber doing cover “headlines” which I’m really excited about. Issue #021 will be available within the next few days.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? Herzog’s self-identification as a “soldier” always comes to my mind. Work is my process. “Head down, power through.” I’m also very restless and try not to repeat myself. In this way especially, I’m more reactionary than creationary, but creationary might not be a word––it’s getting the red underline. My photo approach is a good example. I carry around a black Olympus Stylus, taking exposures of moments I’m drawn to, then later develop and arranging ways to narrate, pair and bring together these banal pictures to a larger conversation with it’s own harmonies and hypocrisies.
It’s often about pushing something until it starts to feel wrong in a way that surprises me. I think a lot about choosing what decisions I don’t make. I like to keep it dumb. These ideas have come out a lot in Packet, where both the contributions and their presentation are in many ways unresolved. This approach is beneficial though in fostering an environment similar to an academic one, where ideas are more upfront and autonomous.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? Realization and education are important, hand in hand with confusion and senselessness. Binaries, always with one door closing another opens. With this though, I like to be content, and I hope those who encounter my work see it embraces balance warmly.
What are you reading right now? I just finished McCarthy’s Child of God. Currently reading Baron in The Trees by Calvino and finishing up Meaning Liam Gillick. Just started No Is Not an Answer, Marie-Louise Ekman is really inspiring me right now as well.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? A launch for Packet Vol. III will happen at Printed Matter November 14th. There will be a panel discussion between myself, Bridget Collins, Anthony Cudahy, and Nicole Reber, who have all made covers for Packet. The talk and the event will make up the content for the next issue following the event. It’ll be fun. Bridget, Nicole and Anthony are three artists who are both great friends of mine and equal sources of drive and inspiration in everything they do.
Describe your current studio or workspace. It’s my bedroom. There’s a large Risograph machine and a small desk with a MacBook. Papers are everywhere. There’s a photo I took in Cape Cod of a whale skull hanging over my bed.
Artist of the Week: Austin Ballard
Austin Ballard was born in Charlotte, NC. He received his MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and his BFA from the college of Art and Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Ballard has received numerous grants and awards including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship, the Dan Bown Project Award, Jeanne Stahl-Webber Sculpture Scholarship, the Rhode Island School of Design Graduate Studies Grant, and an Attilio and Emma Della Biancia Scholarship. He has received coverage for his work in the Providence Journal, ArtCat, Flux-Boston and awarded the Grand Prize at the 2012 Boston Young Contemporaries exhibit at Boston University. He has been awarded fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center, the Ox-Bow School of Art, I-Park, the Wassaic Project, the ESW in Edinburgh, Scotland and most recently the McColl Center for Visual Art.
Ballard has exhibited in both solo and group shows throughout the nation and the UK. His next solo exhibition will be at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT this December. Austin Ballard currently teaches in the college of Art and Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I was born in Charlotte, NC where I have lived for most of my life. My father is from Louisiana and my mother from Chicago. I grew up always interested in the arts, although I’m not sure why since my mother was a mortgage lender and father, grandfather and all of my uncles were mechanics. My grandfather was a driver in NASCAR in the 60’s and 70’s and my father and uncles’ all pit crewmen when I was growing up. I went to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for undergrad thinking I was going to be an architect, before eventually making the shift to the art department to focus on sculpture. I went to the Rhode Island School of Design for my MFA. I am currently an instructor in the textiles and fibers department at UNCC, but see myself moving back up north this summer.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Like many of my peers, my practice involves an array of materials, media and processes. My time is split between the woodshop and foundry where I am cutting, planning, joining, and welding new forms and the ceramic studio where much looser more intuitive vessels are created out of fired clay. I find the interlacing of these two categories of building sparks an interesting dialogue between collapse and control, solidity and fragility, and ultimately time and place.
I hope to create objects of a strange quirky elegance, while simultaneously engaging notions of modernism, architecture, and contemporary craft. The hand coiled ceramic vessels are meant to recall arid landscapes and natural rock formations like that of a Chinese philosophers stone or a Hoodoo from the Midwest. While the more linear steel and wood components are derived from fetishized simplifications in modern furniture and architectural design. I implement such off beat material combinations––wood/glass, ceramic/steel, and plastic/concrete––to reinforce these questionably balanced and seemingly contrary coexistences.
While the work is designed to appear stacked, propped, leaned, or wedged together, creating snapshots of imminent shifts or improbable couplings, further investment signals that they are both engineered and crafted to notch, slide, and rest into one another.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I am currently creating some new work for my next solo show at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT this December. The show will consist of new and recent sculptural works as well as introduce some new works on paper that began at my Ox-Bow residency, in Michigan this past fall. The show will be up from December 19th to February 14th.
I will also be in a group exhibition at Projekt 722 in Brooklyn, NY this spring, the 2014 Wassaic Project Summer Exhibition in Wassaic, NY and the Rosewood Gallery in Kettering, OH in July.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I am still reeling from my encounter with Francis Alys’ A Story of Deception exhibit at MoMA in New York and seeing Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Autodestruccion’s at Regan Projects last year. Both Alys’ and Cruzvillegas work offer up an experience of raw heaviness and yet whether it is one of Alys videos or Cruzvillegas sculptures, the physical manifestations of their work are surprisingly weightless. Both artists are masterful in their ability to get my heartbeat racing, making me feel not as if I am a spectator, but as though I am in the space with them.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? First off, I was born and raised in the south, so I live off of sweet tea. When I lived in New England the first thing I would do when making a trip back to NC was stop by a local Cook Out and order a large sweet tea. And anyone who knows me also knows that I love anything and everything to do with chocolate, especially chocolate pastries, muffins, cookies, cake, etc.
During a residency in Wassaic, NY I was coming back to my room super late at night after working in the studio and was dying for some chocolate chip cookies that I had bought the day earlier. Only to find that when I peeled open the package nearly all of the chocolate chips had been scooped out of the cookies, leaving empty cookie shells. It didn’t take long to realize that a mouse or bug had gotten into them and eaten just the chocolate out. I eventually threw them out, but not after debating, just a little to long, about whether or not to eat the few that seemed to be untouched.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? When I’m not doing the art thing, be it working in my own studio, visiting friend’s studios or going to openings, I am probably playing music, ping-pong, gin rummy or poker. While I have my own place now, I’m used to living with a bunch of people. They always became total punk houses. Bands wound up playing our living rooms, there would be full on ping-pong table sessions inside, nurf wars and card games were pretty common. My last roommate Yuki and I decided to paint our entire living room wall into an American flag. We were stoked when we found out that the next tenants liked it enough to not have it painted over.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? The last movie I watched on Netflix was Hick. I was surprised how much I dug it; it was a random choice that totally paid off. It takes quite an unexpected turn and Eddie Redmayne does an amazing job playing the twisted cowboy drifter. Outside of Netflix, I watch Boardwalk Empire and Homeland pretty regularly.
Tell us a joke. What did the optimist say when he jumped off the building?
…So far so good.
What are you listening to right now? The Steep Canyon Rangers, Tycho, Liars, Sandro Perri, Lee Fields, and Mammoth Grinder have been pretty repetitive lately.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Ok, so I guess the most ‘positive’ reaction I have ever received for my work was at my last solo show in Philly, where a collector/gallerist bought one of my works on paper. However, I sort of equate the best and worst reaction I have ever had to my work happening simultaneously. It was at a group show in Providence about two years ago, where I had installed a series of sculptural elements together on one large low-lying plinth. One of these elements happened to be a hand drawn replica of a crumpled Dunkin Donuts bag. It was about 10 minutes in to the opening that I realized that this piece was missing. After asking the gallery manager and others if they knew what I happened, I realized that the building janitor had thrown it out, believing it to be someone’s trash put on an artwork. At first I was bummed, but then I thought the whole situation was great, it was the most sincere and honest reaction I could have asked for.
Artist of the Week: Laura Aldridge
Laura Aldridge (b. 1978) graduated with an MFA from Glasgow School of Art in 2006 ,spending a period of exchange at CALARTS, Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include: THINGS HELD INSIDE//THE NEW SEA, Kendall Koppe, Glasgow, LAxLA, Milagro Alegro Community Gardens, Los Angeles, 2012; Underside, backside, inside, even, CCA, Glasgow, 2012; Cairn, Pittenweem, Fife, 2011; Studio Voltaire, London, 2011 and Cats are not important, Transmission Gallery,Glasgow. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions at Venues including White Columns, New York, Shane Campbell, Chicago and Supplement, London.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am an artist and I currently live and work in Glasgow. I work with all kinds of materials from photography, screen print, ceramics, fabric, cement. I also work as part of a collaborative group called Poster Club. We meet to make and design posters, treating printmaking as a site for experimental collaborative practice.
How has living in Glasgow affected your art practice? Glasgow is a great for making work. It’s cheap to live here and there is an amazing support system for artists in the form of funding, artist run galleries, project spaces, other artists––it means being in the studio and making progress with your practice is a reality. There are also several great public access workshops, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow Print Studio, MAKLab at the lighthouse––they all make fabricating your own work possible. It rains a lot in Glasgow too, so I get a lot done!
Who is your ideal studiomate? Easy, my plants.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? A big cup of bubble tea, probably mango flavored.
How did your interest in art begin? With my sister––as children we would make our own books, magazines, perfume, pottery and toys.
What artists are you interested in right now? Sister Corita, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Hayley Tompkins, Alexandra Birckin, Cosima Von Bonnin, Ree Morton to name but a few…
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? I have a predominantly studio based practice––I work with materials, thoughts and feelings to develop works, trying to draw out relationships between these things as I recognize them in external sources and processes of making. There is always a push and pull for me between clarity, realization and material. I tend to gather, and look and gather and look, then filter, then add things, take away things, move things about––the work often has an air of lightness––this is important––but its hard fought, and works can take many months before they become something.
How long have you lived in Glasgow and what brought you there? I moved here to study at The Glasgow School of Art in 2004. I’ve remained in Glasgow since, with a few breaks here and there––I lived in Amsterdam for 6 months in 2009, and try and spend time in Los Angeles after doing an exchange at CalArts whilst on the MFA in Glasgow.
What are you reading right now? So the wind won’t blow it all away by Richard Brautigan.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I am working towards a collaborative project with Los Angeles based artist Anna Mayer called Openaries, it’s for Glasgow International Festival of Visual art (GI) here in Glasgow next year. I also have a solo show at Tramway, Glasgow in 2014––Tramway is one of the biggest gallery spaces in Europe, I think…it’s enormous. It’s fast approaching and both an extremely exciting and daunting opportunity.
Describe your current studio or workspace. I work out of a studio building called Grey Wolf Studios which I run with my good friend and fellow artist Nick Evans. We have around 15 artists here, all making and doing, so its a good place to be. My own studio, it’s a mess! I’m in the middle of making work for a show at Supplement Gallery, London, so after weeks of frenetic activity, there are bits of fabric strewn all over the place, clay everywhere and concrete dripping from the ceiling––I’m a messy maker.
Artist of the Week: Kubiat Nnamdie
Kubiat Nnamdie is an artist living and working in Miami and New York, working in a variety of media including video, photography, sculpture, and painting. His work addresses issues related to spiritual and psychological events in contemporary society.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m an artist native of Nigeria. I am currently living/working between Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Miami, Florida. At the moment, I am working on a photographic series for a forthcoming solo in Florida.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’ve been shooting a project for 2 years for a solo show, Feel Alright. Additionally, I have been working on two photographic series, one inspired by Metanoia and the other informed by research I’m doing at a local Jamaican dance hall.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? My work addresses spiritual and psychological events in contemporary society, and I work in a variety of media to communicate this.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I have two. Josh Kline’s Quality of Life at 47 Canal and Michael St. John’s Country Life at Andrea Rosen Gallery.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Cooking, working out, reading, and drumming.
What are you really excited about right now? Making new work and artists who value their health as much as the work they make.
What are you listening to right now? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rtn06ZW9Xm0
What is your ideal studio situation/workspace? A big cabin in the woods.
Artist of the Week: Theodore Darst
Theodore Darst is an artist based in Chicago, IL. His video, prints, and interactive digital environments have been exhibited at numerous venues including 319 Scholes (NYC), bubblebyte.org (online), Jean Albano (Chicago), The Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), and The Museum of the Moving Image (NYC). In addition, he has provided live visuals for a variety of musicians including The-Drum, Disclosure, Mister Lies, Slava, and Supreme Cuts. He was a 2013 HATCH Projects Artist in Residence at the Chicago Artists Coalition and is a 2016 MFA candidate at Bard.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m an artist based in Chicago, IL. I make videos, prints, and video game environments. I also make music videos and do live visuals for some bands.
How has living in Chicago affected your art practice? Coming to Chicago and participating in the so called “dirty new media” scene was incredibly influential in terms of expanding my notions of the potential of art made with computers. I think the absence of a strong commercial scene leaves room for consistently interesting work to be shown. The cheap rent prices have had a huge enabling affect on my ability to maintain an art practice.
Who is your ideal studiomate? None. I really like to work alone.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now I’m making some visuals for Mister Lies who is touring again soon and some other new visuals for VIA Festival in Pittsburgh in October. Working on a new piece for a screening coming up at Transfer gallery in Brooklyn and trying finish my screenplay for a documentary I’m making about Fred Durst.
What artists are you interested in right now? Currently looking at anything by Travess Smalley, Sara Ludy, Joe Hamilton, Laturbo Avedon, Sabrina Ratté, Andrew Norman Wilson, Kate Steicw. I saw a great video by Robert Chase Heishman recently that I’ve been thinking about a lot.
What past trends in art do you think should never come back? 92% of experimental film stuff. Leaning objects against walls to signify IDGAF status. I guess this isn’t really a “past trend” but the whole selfies as a new form of art thing is played out.
What are you reading right now? Currently reading Going Public by Boris Groys. I recently finished this book about the rise of Al Qaeda pre-9/11 called The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright which was pretty incredible. I try to keep up with whatever essays get published on Rhizome or Dis.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I’ve got some work in a show called Technoromanticism here in Chicago that’s up through October 16th at Jean Albano in River North. Coming up I’m doing some visuals at VIA festival in Pittsburgh and have work in two shows outside the US: YOU DON’T NEED TO BE A SAILOR TO FIND AN ISLAND at NNM.Gallery in Lima and Tactical Glitch at Sudlab in Naples.
Describe your current studio or workspace. My studio is in my home in Chicago. It’s really ideal. It’s quite a bit of space and it’s got a porch for smoking. My girlfriend works from home too but we have a fair amount of space so we don’t step on each others’ toes too much during the day.
What were you like in high school? Stoner jock. B+ in visual arts.
Artist of the Week: Allison Reimus
Allison Reimus's work explores the psychology of the domestic interior by addressing elements of the decorative through abstraction. She is currently based in Chicago, IL, but earned her BFA from Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI in 2005 and her MFA from American University in Washington, DC in 2009. Reimus is the 2009 recipient of the Crisp-Ellert Prize, awarded by Michelle Grabner. In 2010, Reimus was featured in New American Paintings, No. 88. South Edition as an Editor’s Selection. She has most recently exhibited at Heiner Contemporary and the (e)merge Art Fair, both in Washington, DC, Salon Zürcher in New York City, Nudashank in Baltimore, MD and Kunstraum Tapir in Berlin, Germany.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Hello, I’m Allison Reimus. I’m a painter based in Chicago. I grew up in Michigan and attended Michigan State University. After college I traveled the country with an art museum on a train, aptly named Artrain USA. After that, I spent a few years in Washington, DC where I attended graduate school at American University and now I am here, back in the Midwest with my husband, dog, and 10-month-old son. I have a studio in the West Loop which I share with four really nice people and the best new contemporary video art gallery in town, Aspect/Ratio. I also update a couple of blogs every now and again—Jumping In Art Museums and my newest endeavor, Henry Goes to Art Shows.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? We don’t have fancy cable, so we rely on Netflix to view past seasons of television shows everyone else has already watched. Right now, we’re watching season 3 of Boardwalk Empire and season 2 of Homeland. I love Netflix original programing too—House of Cards and Arrested Development! So, so good.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I often wonder what the negatives might be with artists relying so heavily on social media. The benefits of connectivity are huge, of course, but what are the drawbacks? Is it making us less critical and lazy as viewers? Are we just accepting things without giving them proper thought because they show up on our news feeds? We’re seeing these tiny images on our smartphones and are confronted with making a quick decision about whether we “like” them or not. We see that so-and-so “killed it” at their last show, but rarely hear an opinion as to why. Seldom do we hear about a show that sucked. I think we’re all a little bit guilty of this in our own way. Everyone wants to be nice and supportive of their friends, but wouldn’t a little more honesty do us all a favor? Just a thought! I might be completely wrong.
If you had one wish what would it be? I have two and they more closely resemble goals than wishes. Anyway, the first is to raise my son to be an interesting, conscientious humanist who lives his life with purpose and doesn’t put a monetary value on success. The second wish/goal is to have a long, non-complacent and relevant career that keeps me engaged and makes for better, smarter paintings. Simple, right? Ha.
How did your interest in art begin? I knew I wanted to be an artist since middle school. I was lucky enough to have been accepted to study visual art at a school for gifted and talented students in the arts and sciences. The school was free, which was amazing considering its located in the economically depressed city of Saginaw, Michigan. I studied art and art history for half of each school day from 6th until 12th grade. The school is called Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy and its one of the city’s greatest assets. I wish I knew then just how fortunate I really was.
What artists are you interested in right now? I recently saw some new work by Dustin London and wow. Just wow. I’ve been thinking a lot about pairing my vocabulary down to its essential elements because I have come to realize that I make my best work and find the most freedom when working within tight, self-inflicted boundaries. I think Dustin is doing an amazing job at this. His use of color is inspiring to boot. I also admire the paintings of Gianna Commito for these same reasons. I have a thing for paintings that show, unapologetically, the remnants of past decisions. Gianna’s work has that. And Tomma Abts—I’ve been revisiting her work for that same reason. Intentional surface quality is huge for me. I also look at the work of interior designers—right now I’m obsessed with Kelly Wearstler.
How has your work developed within the past year? This past year has been a struggle, in a really good and productive kind of way. As I mentioned before, I’m a new Mom and with motherhood comes a complete restructuring of your life as you know it. Any big life change comes with a learning curve and I’ve noticed my work adapting to my new way of thinking. Before my son was born, I could spend hours mixing a color and would worry about whether it was perfect or not. I’d also spend studio time doing non-essential tasks that I didn’t realize were non-essential. Now, my studio time is cut in half. I don’t have time for bullshit anymore. I’m not afraid to mess things up either. I show up, half dead or not, and I try to give my paintings what they need. If it doesn’t work, I try again at the next session. This makes for a more rich and varied surface, which is something I’ve always desired but never could do. It’s been a battle, but I think my work is getting better because of, not in spite of, this life change. I’ve also started painting with oil on linen which I haven’t done in years, so that’s fun. Expensive as shit but fun.
What are your thoughts about the art scene in Chicago? As an outsider, I have noticed a few things about Chicago: There seems to be a large gap in population between students (mostly SAIC)/ young artists and mid-career/ established artists. I get the impression that after the students graduate, they stick around for only a few years, if that. Basically, I think Chicago is a layover on the way to New York or LA and that is really sad because this is a great city!
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Just last week I visited Judy Ledgerwood’s show, Love, Power, Color, at Rhona Hoffman and it blew me away. I’ve admired her work for years but had only seen it in images. She is such a badass! The paintings were so decisive, so confident and yet so fresh. I had been anticipating the show for months and it didn’t disappoint. It was like art Christmas.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? Yes! I have two internet-based appearances coming up. I will be the featured artist on Buy Some Damn Art as of September 24th. This will be my first time selling work in an online venue. In the past, I have been skeptical of online art sales, but this site is different. The curator, Kate Singleton, does an incredible job bringing fresh talent to the masses at reasonable price points in a non-intimidating way. Similarly, I’ll have work featured on Artsy as of October 1st through Heiner Contemporary, a gallery based in Washington, DC.
Artist of the Week: Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins
Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins have practiced sculpture, installation and media art in Toronto since 2000. Jennifer Marman is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario. Daniel Borins is a graduate of McGill University. Both Marman and Borins are also graduates of the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2001—where they first met and began collaborating together.
Marman & Borins currently have their first solo show in New York with Tierney Gardarin Gallery. In the fall of 2012, they had their second solo show at Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto. Upcoming public projects include a large-format sculpture for Downsview Subway Station commissioned by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission, and a public sculpture commissioned by Waterfront Toronto to mark the opening of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in 2015.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. We are a collaborative duo based in Toronto, Canada. Our practice is multi-disciplinary and encompasses a variety of media including painting, sculpture, interactive electronic work, site-specific installation, and public art projects. We recently added architecture to the scope of our artistic practice - through a combination of landscape projects and hybrid art and architecture permanent public commissions.
We have been collaborating on projects for over ten years. This year marks one of our most exciting to-date, proving to be a milestone that represents a furthering of our artistic practice on conceptual, formal, and physical levels.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Opening this week, we have our first solo New York exhibition, Pavilion of the Blind, at Tierney Gardarin Gallery. This show features a large-scale, kinetic sculpture and a series of related paintings touching upon abstraction, representation, formalism, industrial design, surveillance, visuality and viewership. It represents a distillation of our ideas and interests from recent years.
Presently, we also have a major touring institutional exhibition, The Collaborationists, currently on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Our most ambitious project to-date, this exhibition will travel to the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Windsor.
In 2014, Pavilion of the Blind will travel to the Dunlop Museum, we will complete a public art project for the Toronto Transit Commission, we will install a public sculpture for Waterfront Toronto (for the Pan Am Para Pan Am Games in 2015), and we will realize a pedestrian bridge in downtown Toronto that we co-designed with our colleague, James Khamsi.
What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and -how do you see it developing? We cannot really speak for other artists, but if we were afforded some observations: we are finding that it currently could be more difficult for younger artists to have a peculiar or different style. Trends in artistic production are forcing a form of visual homogeneity and it seems as if the influence of the Internet and its various channels (which we are participating in here) are both a form of peer recognition and support. But it is also a form of social influence that seems to be leading younger artists to work in similar styles and reinforce current trends. Maybe this is just the nature of digital connectivity, but we would like to know if there could be more curious or subversive styles allowed into the mix. We would hope so.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? It is difficult to describe our work in one sentence because we are project based - so there is not one singular idea, or style that we could reduce to a snippet. To put it plainly, we have a multi-faceted base of concerns that we are currently describing as “project art.” There is however a consistent methodology in our approach, themes, and interests, such as: power and dominance, subversion, formal codification, and references to modernity to name a few. And then we could say that there is a lot of cross-referencing that we do in our own work, rather than small incremental updates to a singular form. Think of it as an encyclopedic approach that is growing in a non-linear manner.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Our materials range from basic items like canvas and paint to complex equipment like custom circuits and electronic controllers. Our process has matured to a point where we are able to create multiple studies - with us not being forced to execute a finished product immediately. We now spend more preparation time thinking, writing, planning new ideas, and developing new approaches and seeing them through. Early in our collaboration we had discussed the idea of a think tank or an idea lab as the basis for our practice - it didn’t completely turn out that way, but it was a good point of departure for us to begin our working method.
How has your work developed within the past year? One of the biggest misconceptions about our work is that is that it is too heterogeneous. However, we just needed a bit more time to lay out some grand plans. We think that in the past year, we have been able to present exhibitions that show a cohesion which may not have been so apparent before. Our touring institutional show, The Collaborationists, currently at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, has allowed us realize many ideas and has allowed us to edit. We have major pieces on show, and their elaborations. Context for smaller works is now reinforced. For example, we feel that Pavilion of the Blind is a distillation of many aspects of our work – it encompasses our multidisciplinary vocabulary while simultaneously dwelling on certain themes yet in a variety of media in a cohesive manner. In a way, we were able to take many ideas further and yet distill those ideas to into strong, poignant, and balanced realizations.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Our studio is in a bit of an industrial area - so we began several years ago to produce something that we jokingly referred to as the “Studio Diet.” It started out as food that could easily be transported and grew into a pretty intense form of health food and vegetarian-like preparations. (Sorry, no pastrami. No brisket.)
DB: Plus, if I did not prepare food, we would probably go hungry. For example, Jennifer might prepare a lunch of four raisins and an almond (and we’d probably split the almond).
The “Studio Diet” also includes a weekly trip to the farmer’s market where we get a large jug of natural ginger beer brewed by a group of Caribbean guys at their stall, “Fish Shack.”
What are you really excited about right now? It’s an exciting moment for us. Our most extensive exhibition to date, The Collaborationists, is currently on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and we have just completed the installation of our show, Pavilion of the Blind, at Tierney Gardarin Gallery in New York City. With these exhibitions showing in tandem, it has been very enjoyable for us to see the dissemination of our ideas. It feels like the culmination of 3-4 years of work, especially with the publication of a catalog. Plus, it has been great working with Cristin Tierney, Denis Gardarin and the gallery staff to realize this exhibition. It is nice to know that we have the support of the gallery after years of hard work and rumination on specific ideas about form and aesthetics. We feel that our base for some of our ideas has been established with Georgia Scherman Projects in Toronto. Our family and support team has grown and we are excited about that.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? A critic once wrote, “Take it from a critic, there’s nothing to see.”
What is your ideal studio situation/workspace? The ideal studio would have southern exposure and is facing east/west. It would be on the ground floor and have a large garage roll-up door and large storage racks up high (most likely equipped with a hydraulic arm). The studio would have a dirty shop space, a medium clean production area, and then a clean office like space that is pristine and white. It would have an immaculately level polished concrete floor with radiant heat (and stylish yet industrial mats for added comfort in the workspace to stand upon). The mostly white space - with grey accents and stainless steel hardware - would be illuminated by a series of frosted skylights. It would have a kitchenette and a separate large slop sink. It would also have an apartment above it, and should somehow straddle the line between city enclave and county outpost. Maybe a vegetable garden on the roof to coincide with the “studio diet.” But farming is difficult…You said ideal…
What past trends in art would you like to see be brought back? It would be fun to bring back re-skilling, manifesto writing, intellectualism, and scale.
Artist of the Week: Sarah and Joseph Belknap
Sarah and Joseph Belknap are Chicago based artists and educators who received their MFAs in Performance Art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They have been collaborating with each other since 2008. Their exhibitions include: Our Findings From Spaceship Earth, Roxaboxen, Chicago; 2 of a Kind, LVL3, Chicago; Exchange, CAVE, Detroit, MI; Line of Site, Western Exhibitions, Chicago; IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE, Chicago Artists’ Coalition; Romantic Notions, Los Caminos, St. Louis, Missouri; Video Night, Airplane, Brooklyn, New York; MDW Art Fair, Chicago.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. We are a couple that has been working as a collaboration for the past 5 years. We make work that looks at the way in which humans experience, mythologize, and explore the cosmos, science and our curiosity with the universe.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We are currently working on a few projects. One of the series is of Moon Skins - We stare at the moon, return to our studio and (competitively) carve what we remember seeing. These carvings are covered with silicone and peeled off creating inverted moon skins. We are also playing with a video and performance series that looks at elongated moments in time - specifically pieces involving meteorite falls and NASA’s mission control celebratory reactions after successful missions.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? We are watching “How the Universe Works” over and over. We usually watch shows when it is way too late at night and often fall asleep. We have dreams about this show as well as “The Cosmos”.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? We make art that is the love child between science and wonder.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? We are material and methods zealots. We consider each new process and material as an expansion of our ability to communicate in new languages. We love working with silicones, plastics, fiberglass, wood, etc. We do a lot of research and compile all of our findings on a blog as well as in documents. Our process is researched based but chews it up and spits it out until we can get back to play and gesture. We utilize video, photography, and performance and will often use them as a foundation for larger installation and sculptural works.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Whiskey and sardines.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? We recently bought a ping pong table and are avid players. For our anniversary we were given ping pong paddles with our pictures printed on them and we love them dearly. We also love to cook and make our own ginger beer and cheese.
What are you really excited about right now? In December we are going to Iceland for a month long residency. We are studying the Aurora Borealis and we should be just in time to experience the sun’s magnetic poles reverse.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? In October we will be in a group show at A+D Gallery organized by Sara Black and Karsten Lund titled Imperfect Symmetry and in November we have a 2 person show with Christine Gray at O’Connor Gallery of Art at Dominican University, curated by Angela Bryant. We will also be running an interactive workshop at the MCA in November as part of their PLAY program organized by Michael Green.
What are you listening to right now? Os Mutantes and Rihanna.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? This is both one of our best and worst reactions.
LVL3 is looking for an intern!
application can be found here
THIS SATURDAY: Quandary
Artist of the Week: Andrzej Zielinski
Andrzej Zielinski was born in Kansas City, Missouri. His work is in the collections of the Portland Art Museum, The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, and the National Gallery of Australia. His work has been shown in New York City, Los Angeles, Berlin, Tokyo, and Sydney. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Andrzej Zielinkski. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up there as well as Lawrence, Kansas. I grew up hunting and fishing like most kids from that area of the country. I liked anything that had to do with the outdoors and I grew up wanting to be a park ranger.
I liked art as a child, however it was only something I did in ‘art class,’ not something I did on a regular basis. At my elementary school a woman would come every month from the local library with bad laminated reproductions placemat size of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, 1889, Seurat’s La Grande Jaunt, 1886, Georgia O’Keefe’s, Sky Above Clouds, 1965 and Salvador Dali’s, The Persistence of Memory, 1931. All the artists were deceased except Georgia O’Keeffe. I didn’t know ‘til much later that living artists were still creating art. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I found a passion for art history and then art making while attending Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas and then continuing on to the University of Kansas. From there I transferred into The School of Art Institute of Chicago where I received my BFA in 2002. I then received an MFA from Yale University 2004.
I spend my time painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpting, reading and studying a few languages. I have been a visiting artist at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia for the past 3 years. I have taught painting and drawing classes there. When I wasn’t in Australia teaching I was either in Berlin, where I have a small apartment I rent, New York City or Kansas City.
I spent most of 2006 in Rome, Italy. I went to see the great works in Italy, but I became enthralled with bas-relief carving, ultimately influencing me to add three-dimensional aspects to my canvases, and then actually making sculptures.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I follow space exploration, technology advancement, nature discoveries and environmental problems. I don’t have a recipe for how these interests filter into my work, but I feel it’s an osmosis that takes place over time. Things over time become clear, that aren’t clear in the present. In other words, I figure it out later. I just work and then assessment comes later.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m currently working on an exhibition that will be held at Mottahedan Projects, Dubai, UAE it will include both sculptures and paintings.
Starting September I’ll also be working on a couple of lithographs at Lawrence Lithography in Kansas City with master lithographer Mike Sims.
What artists are you interested in right now? I’m interested in artists that have a fiercely personal cosmology. For me that means the work of Florine Stettheimer’s ‘Cathedral series’ where the idea of impasto is formed into ‘structural’ elements in the composition similar to bas-relief. I am glad that she was garish with her use of colour. Her work feels keenly contemporary and I feel they are some of the best history paintings of the 20th century.
Wols paintings and incredible etchings have presence and vivaciousness to them. This ‘witch doctor’ had an uncanny control over the mediums he used. His work feels alive and twitches.
Alfred Jensen has somehow portrayed humanities systems and algorithms paradoxically in an ordered and chaotic way. Even though Jensen’s work portrays human thinking, they look alien.
Carroll Dunham continues to follow his images demands without censoring himself.
Lee Bontecou who was also influenced by a prolonged visits to Rome and bas sculptural reliefs. Her work oscillates uncannily between the mechanical and the organic.
The artist I’m contemplating with great enthusiasm at the moment is Ralph Humphrey. Humphrey’s fiercely idiosyncratic palette and the physicality of his paint surface resonate with me.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? I sometimes sketch/doodle and write down things that interest me on impulse, but more often than not, I initiate a piece by picking a machine and then go through a series of formal decisions that are hard, if impossible, to rationalize through speech. Nonetheless the decisions seem to me to make sense at the time. It always begins with drawing with graphite directly onto the painting support. I have to enclose some space and build on that network. I intentionally push relationships in a formal sense to find new ground and also I ‘play’ with different possibilities of textures and colours to see what comes of it. I know a work of mine is finished if it ‘twitches,” or in other words, breaks the mold and becomes a personality and has a presence. Some work takes years to resolve and I often rework old work a la Matisse. I work on multiple works at once.
How long have you lived in Kansas City and what brought you there? I currently keep a studio in Kansas City area but work wherever I need to and can.
I also spend a fair amount of time in New York City. I’ve found it too difficult to make sculptures there due to very strict restrictions on noise and fire codes. So making the work in Kansas City is a good option. I don’t think they can hear me grinding metal or sculpting stones in New York from there. I’ve also worked in Berlin on and off for the last 3 years. I plan on moving to LA beginning of 2014.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? A sense of frustration that borders on humor and ends up being a ‘Wow.’
Then, when the viewer later interfaces with real ATMs, mobile phones, or paper shredders they think about my work, and therefore see the machines around them more clearly and perhaps that draws some thoughts into their heads that otherwise wouldn’t have come to them. For example, “Is the rationality of the digital age and hyper-connectivity that rational?”
What are you reading right now? Books by Kobe Abe in English. Game of Thrones (in German) and some short stories in Italian.
Describe your current studio or workspace. My studio is very clean and orderly. I thrive on organization, which enables me not to get bogged down in trivial things like: Where the heck is that brush? Or where is that colour? Things get messy in the process of working, but then there needs to be an assessment, and for me that means giving the piece I’m working on center stage.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Best reactions from adults have been ‘WOW,’ then speechlessness, that is in turn followed by several minutes of hand gesticulating, some stumbling words, and then finally to some sentences. Then to hear months or years later they ‘initially’ wanted to hate my work, but that over time and after several viewings they found it extremely compelling. The children that have seen my work have struck poses in front some of the paintings.
Artist of the Week: Olivier Kosta-Théfaine
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Olivier Kosta-Théfaine. I am an artist living in Paris, France.
How has living in Paris affected your art practice? I never went to an art school, I’m a pure autodidact. I didn’t have a teacher or anyone to tell me anything or to share my thoughts. My art is intuitive and because I am a product of the Parisian suburbs. I was inspired by my environment. The city, my city, quickly became the main inspiration for my work, from graffiti on a wall to a flower growing in the concrete.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m working on my second solo exhibition for Jeanroch Dard Gallery that will take place in October 2013, and I am still working on a new little artist book called Flore de Compagnie that will be edited by Bunk editions in September.
If you had one wish what would it be? Working more and more with institutions here in France, and more collaborations abroad!
How did your interest in art begin? When I was a kid, I remember that I used to draw a lot, especially when I was at my Grandmother’s house every Wednesday. A few years ago, I found a strange sculpture I did when I was 10 at my Mum’s place, a kind of black and white headed cat done with terracotta. It was really beautiful but also really strange at the same time. In 1988 I did my first urban intervention. My first group exhibition took place in 1995, it was the first time that people invited me to show my work. Since then I never stopped working indoors and outdoors, experimenting, trying to develop my own language.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I’m just an observer of my environment. I observe then I translate what I see into pieces that I show in artspaces. To make a long story short, I am really interested by these dirty elements from the city that most of the people hate, as traces of cheap vandalism for example, or these small details that people generally don’t see. I used to collect these elements in the goal to make “artpieces”. By expansion, the idea is to transform these negatives or invisibles elements into acceptable and aesthetics art pieces. It is all about irony and fun!
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Definitely the poetry and the fragility of the city.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? It could be a half empty spray can, or a found object coming from the street. My work is not about technique, it is based on an observation of the landscape and its translation. I can produce classical garden with broken glasses bottles, or making a decorative ceiling with the smoke of a flame lighter. My work is simple, and it smells of the city.
How has your work developed within the past year? It has become more and more poetic and I think I’m not afraid to express my feelings anymore.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? A cook ;-)