Born and raised in Los Angeles, I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a degree in illustration. Although still practicing … Keep Reading
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a degree in illustration. Although still practicing my illustration skills, painting has become my main focus. I started working in collage from 2012 and haven’t looked back. The exploration of the variety of textures and surfaces I can create and put together into my “landscapes” is of endless fascination to me. Although nature is my main inspiration, I try to push the forms found there and cut them up and remix them, so to speak, into something a little more stylized, abstracted to create new shapes.
Painting came to me as if by magic when I was 27. I then started to pull the string of my subconscious and have been fully devoted to painting since 2012.I discovered that with images I felt more comfortable than with words.
My very first attempts at painting became the miracle seed for the tree that I nurture as best as I can. People from whom I learned to water that seed are: Kat Cheng, Rilke, Van Gogh, Robert Henri, Antonio López, Rafel Bestard, Betty Edwards, Harold Speed, and Charles Reid (in order of appearance).
My work has been representational from the start. The first few years my painting was intuitive and self-taught; and after attending several workshops with Antonio López, my work reflects more truthfully the way we see. I tend to summarize forms, starting with the chiaroscuro and later adding color. I also try to make clear the place where each element is. I use values and colors as well as the composition, to connect all the elements in the painting. I bear in mind that painting serves my intention; which is to transform some intuitions into images; they appear suddenly or over time and are mostly triggered by introspection, family relations, the individual and collective subconscious, the emotional home, shared intimacy, attention and beliefs.
The process of painting has given me the opportunity to integrate my different selves and develop new abilities; it has taught me to trust my inner voice, the unknown, the beginnings, the discomfort. I sometimes see myself sharing this experience with people who are curious.
I heard at Sivananda that all spiritual paths lead to the same place if you go deep enough and stay there for usually more than a lifetime. In that case, I stay in painting.
Sarah Jane Moon is a painter who specialises in portraiture and figurative painting.
She has exhibited with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the New English Art Club among others. In 2015 she was awarded the Arts Charitable Trust Award and in 2013 the Bulldog Bursary for Portraiture. She has also been included in the 2016 Pride Power List, which celebrates the achievements of notable LGBT people.
In 2016 Sarah Jane will be showing work in London at the Menier Gallery and at the Mall Galleries with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters as well as donating work to the Terrence Higgins Trust Art Auction at Christie’s and the Stonewall Annual Auction. She is also exhibiting at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery and The Walrus Gallery in Wellington, NZ and Thompson’s Galleries in New Cavendish St, London UK.
Originally from New Zealand, Sarah Jane has lived in Japan, Malaysia, Australia and UK working in education and the arts. She has qualifications in Art Theory and Curatorial Practice from Universities in NZ and Australia as well in Portrait Painting from The Heatherley School of Fine Arts in Chelsea.
Sarah Jane also currently teaches with The New School of Art in Lewes, Brighton & London and in the Open Studio at The Heatherley School of Fine Art. She paints as often as possible, working both on commissions and her own projects. She is also producing a book that will profile leading contemporary portrait painters in Britain.
I’m a painter. I love surfaces, materials and the challenge of capturing them on the flatness of the canvas. I paint the façades of buildings that are normally considered ugly, or uninteresting, or that are just simply ignored, unseen – the buildings that form the backdrop to the lives of so many of us, built as part of the development boom that took place in the time between the end of World War II and the oil crisis. We know that they’re there, but their lifecycles are so slow that we take for granted that they look the same today as they did yesterday, and as they will look tomorrow; so we tune them out, allow them to become the background noise of our surroundings. They are neither old nor new; old enough to be worn and needing attention, yet not old enough for us to consider them a heritage and something to take pride in and care of, making them vulnerable to demolition and careless renovations. I think they deserve better than that. By giving them a lot of time and attention, as well as the traditionally high status materials of oil on linen, I hope to make people look at these buildings, form their own opinions about them and not just dismiss them out of hand.
I was born in Sweden in the early 1980s, in a small old town where the medieval stands side by side with the modern. I was taught to treasure the old, and I do, but the modernism that is the most dominant part of this, and most other towns was treated as if it didn’t exist; or at least as if it didn’t have any other value than that of providing shelter. But I grew to love this forgotten architecture.
Sweden grew rapidly during the years after World War II, and building politics was used both to boost the economy and to create the welfare state. The idea was to create the right environments to foster democratic citizens and prevent what had just happened in Germany to repeat itself here. Extensive developments were carried out all over the country in preparation for the calculated, and largely overestimated, population growth and increase in the number of cars. The old towns were considered bad, demoralising, crowded and dirty; and the modern housing clean and healthy, full of light and fresh air. Separated from traffic and safe for the children, the new developments would make living better for all. Even the largest new suburbs were built to mimic smaller towns, with a centre providing all the necessary services, and housing spread out in circles with large apartment blocks shrinking into lower blocks and garden suburbs. In 1964, a political decision was taken to increase an already high building level to 100,000 homes per year, and to keep this up during a ten-year period. This has become known as miljonprogrammet, the million program, a word that has almost turned into a derogatory term and that is closely associated with the large estates on the outskirts of the largest towns. After having been misrepresented in the media almost since they were new, these areas are stuck in a vicious circle of low status, bad maintenance, poverty, segregation and unemployment. Sadly, many politicians believe the roots of these problems to be the buildings themselves, and not society’s views of them, and large renovation programmes often include the demolition of multi-storey blocks to make way for small houses in an attempt to attract the white middle classes.
But miljonprogrammet is so much more. It houses a quarter of our population today, often without their knowledge. More than half of it consists of small houses, one quarter is low blocks, and only about one quarter has six or more stories. It has left a huge and diverse mark, and should be appreciated for what it is and what it stands for. Good housing for all is the backbone of our welfare state. We have a class system just as in every other country, but it is probably less pronounced than it would’ve been had we instead taken the route of social housing.
I’m fascinated by this period for so many reasons. The mix of pessimism and almost euphoric optimism, a feeling of death or glory, nuclear winter or almost boundless progress through science and enterprise. The first picture of Earth seen from space came from Lunar Orbiter I in 1966, and I think that changed us. Seeing Earth from the outside, against the vast blackness of space, made it blatantly clear that our resources are finite. When man really did walk on the moon in 1969, it was not only an amazing achievement in itself; it was an inspiration, proof that we can achieve greatness.
I want to celebrate the quotidian, and the beauty in the mundanity of much of our surroundings. It is the days we don’t remember when they’re gone that make up most of our lives. The ability to see the beauty and complexity of our everyday environment will make life richer, just as any acquired knowledge opens up new ways of thinking and perceiving the world.
”Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.”
Philip Larkin, I Remember, I Remember.
Written for the exhibition catalogue for Pines and Powerlines, April 2011
Gemma Gené is an architect and visual artist from Barcelona based in New York. She moved to United States to earn a Masters at Columbia University. In 2014 she joined Steven Holl Architects until she focused on developing her studio work.
She has maintained a career as an award-winning painter and published illustrator. The series “unapologetic paintings” is a collection of realistic paintings and drawings of wrapped objects. She relies on urban art as a way to make her work accessible. Her work has been shown in New York at the Accessible Art Fair, the Greenpoint Gallery, the Allies Gallery and Figment New York and in Barcelona at the Palo Alto Fundation.
She is best known for her online comic 157ofgemma where she narrates in an ironic fashion her life with her pug Mochi that has a very strong following on social media.
Her work has been published in books, and online blogs like Artnet, Archdaily, The Jealous Curator and Desgin Taxi amongst others.
Karen Ann Myers is an artist, educator and curator. She received an MFA in Painting from Boston University and a BFA in Studio Art from Michigan State University. She is currently serving as the assistant director at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC. In addition, Myers an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, teaching in the Art Management Department.
Myers has exhibited extensively throughout the country. Her paintings and works on paper exist nationally in private collections and have most recently been exhibited at LUIS DE JESUS gallery in Los Angeles, CA, Robert Steele Gallery in NY, NY, at the Commonwealth Gallery in Boston, MA, the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC, the FAB gallery at South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC, Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA and Scoop Studios in Charleston, SC.
FP: Your work appears to both celebrate women and comments on current social issues. What are some important things you want the viewer to take away from your work?
KM: I am investigating the psychological complexity of women through intimate observations in the bedroom. The work is inspired by the cult of beauty in contemporary mass media. What I term as the cult of beauty is a fascinating phenomenon to me because it’s both powerfully attractive and disturbing at the same time. I don’t attempt in my paintings to define all that women are, because that can’t be done. I do not subscribe to the idea that sexual images of women inspire violence or promote the political oppression of women in our culture. Gender politics, feminism and pornography are complicated issues and that is how it should be, because the truth about sexual dynamics is complex.
I hope that my paintings portray the dualities of female psychology and sexuality – woman as independent and complex; yet contemplative, vulnerable and alone. I feel that no matter how strong someone seems on the outside, there is always a fragile side on the inside. My paintings explore this duality. Each of my paintings is an opportunity to better understand myself through others and through self-reflection. My work is more about personal psychology.
The work is also about visual excitement. I am interested in frustrating my audience; the viewer wants to look at the irresistible woman on the bed, yet he/she is conflicted because of the equally beautiful rug on the floor. I am attracted to the vulnerability and power attached to beauty. They possess the same physical allure for me. However, I can’t see it as a realistic physical standard of appearance, which is why it may be troubling.
I also want to capture a sense of contemplation within the figure surrounded by the chaotic world. My paintings highlight the connection between what is seen and what is felt by transforming an image into a tactile experience for the viewer.
FP: Who are the girls in your paintings? Describe your inspiration, references and meaning behind the works.
KM: The women in my paintings are women I know personally and I strive to represent some part of their personality. They are strong, beautiful, independent and complex. It’s my job, as the artist, to capture their innate quality and translate it into a painting.The work is about being vulnerable, yet confidence and self-assured. I like the tension between those two states of mind. I like that there can be both.
The work is a thoughtful meditation on how female sexuality and material consumption continues to be negotiated by the mass media. Intricate imagery reflects a variegated response to the daily bombardment of cultural messages received by female American consumers; my paintings react with a sometimes uneasy balance of embrace and rejection. In this respect, the pictures can simultaneously appear to glamorize and critique luxurious textiles that must be procured at a home décor boutique, or a popular magazine’s idea of beauty.
Most of the women are looking at the viewer. This creates a more engaging experience, maybe even confrontational or jarring. Scale also plays a role. The paintings are large with the figure being nearly life size. At this scale, rather than looking at the painting and seeing a “picture”, the viewer can easily insert themselves into the narrative.
The unique perspective of my paintings—with the viewer looking down into the scene—came to me almost accidentally. When I started painting from a bird’s eye view it was an aha moment. While painting from a normal point of view, my peers and mentors criticized the work for its flatness and lack of depth, but I liked that, especially how the patterns flatten out the space. I tried to figure out a way around it, to work out the lack of depth while maintaining the flatness that I enjoyed. So I started to look down, and that has fueled my work for many years. That aerial perspective has infinite possibilities. My work has been referred to as “cinematic” since I routinely create a voyeuristic atmosphere.
FP: Your paintings are both conceptual and technically stunning. Tell us a little bit about your process and artistic background.
KM: I currently live in Charleston, South Carolina. I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I received my BFA from Michigan State University and my MFA from Boston University.
I have always been interested in art and have always made art. When I began painting more seriously and thought of it as a career, I focused mostly on self-portraiture. While I don’t currently concentrate exclusively on self-portraits, for over 10 years I have completed one large-scale self-portrait every year. These self-portraits are my version of a written diary. Each of my paintings is an opportunity to better understand myself through my past, present and future experiences and relationships with paint. My paintings are motivated by what it is like to be a specific gender and a specific age in contemporary culture, often juxtaposed with experiences from the past.
My bedroom, and more specifically my bed, has always been an important physical space, where I spend most of my time when home, reading, working, eating, etc. It’s interesting to note that the women in my paintings were not photographed in their own bedrooms like most people think, but were actually photographed in my bed. These rooms do not exist and are fantasies of rooms I wish I had. In these paintings, I have the opportunity to create any combination of bedrooms that hold objects that are important to me or have some sort of significance. I am attracted to the textures found in women’s clothing; lace, chiffon, satin, and other intricacies. I enjoy the challenge of painting them. I am interested in making work that is representative of our time, featuring current trends in fashion and decoration.
The process of painting is very enjoyable. A significant amount of time is spent planning before paint is even applied to the canvas. I begin by taking literally thousands of photographs of friends, who I invite into my studio. I hover above the model on a ladder to capture them from a birds eye perspective. The poses often emulate fashion photography, while also mimicking design elements found in the patterns that surround the model. I own a large assortment of textiles from thrift store shopping over the years. I collect patterns; it’s an enjoyable from of research that I do naturally. In addition to photographing my friends, I will also take photographs of furniture and other objects to include in the piece. Using Photoshop, I will collage all my photographs and determine a composition. The piece is essentially a composite image, including the figure itself. For example, her hand gesture my be perfect in one photo, her gaze in another and leg posture in another, etc. She becomes a composite image, not unlike the models in fashion magazines.
I do not begin painting until I have a clear understanding of the composition. After the composition is planned, I transfer my collage to the canvas and begin painting. All paintings begin as a line drawing, using opaque pigment markers, with the composition and details drawn out entirely. The line drawing serves as a visual road map for the next step, where broader washes of thinned oil paint are applied to establish an overall sense of color and harmony. I paint indirectly, so the final painting is a result of many layers, where each layer is more intricate than the previous.
FP: How do you make sure you get enough time in the studio? What are your best time management tips and best practices?
KM: I am obsessed with time. The biggest challenge I face in my studio has always been the issue of time. Obviously I’m not alone with this struggle. I want to do so many things, I have so many ideas, stuff I want to do in a day, in a lifetime! There isn’t enough time.
Each week, I aim to work 40+ hours in my studio. A few years ago, I became interested in owning a punch clock, to more accurately record time spent in the studio and create a system of accountability. The punch clock is mounted at the entrance to my studio. At the beginning of the week, I create a schedule and require myself to clock in and out based on the schedule. If I don’t feel like painting, I still go. If I’m unsure of what I’m doing, I try to work it out. I avoid distractions by putting my phone on airplane mode.
Obtaining a punch clock was also motivated by people treating my practice as a hobby and not something that is serious. For example, a friend might ask me to join them at a movie, or dinner/drinks/dancing, etc. I’d typically respond by telling them that I couldn’t because it was a studio night. Most of the time, they didn’t see that as a valid reason to decline their invitation. So, I began to tell friends and acquaintances that I wasn’t available because I was scheduled to work that night. This approach worked surprisingly well. No one challenges you if you are scheduled for work.
The punch clock has given me other useful information. It has assisted me in setting realistic goals when working towards an exhibition since I know about how long each painting will take, based on the records of all the paintings previously created.
FP: What are you currently working on and what are your goals for your paintings?
KM: I see myself continuing to focus on painting portraits of women that I meet and know in a way that represents their personality, identity and humanity. Formally, my paintings will remain focused on bold colors, balanced design and clashing geometric patterns. I plan on expanding the detail of each painting, as well as the size. I am constantly looking for new, challenging and intricate patterns and textures to paint, to expand my vocabulary.
Lately, I have become interested in using the abstract patterning found in various textiles as a unifying design motif and posing the models to react to or with the pattern’s structure. For example, the model’s limbs mimic the angles and shapes in the bedding, rugs and other ornamentation.
I’ve also just started a new series of paintings based on my garden. For over a decade I’ve devoted a lot of time to growing and maintaining succulents. I’ve never made a painting of them because I didn’t want to become a person who paints “plants and flowers”. It’s always been a separate passion, yet in reality it’s motivated by similar attractions. I’ve come to think of the succulents as something more than a hobby. I carefully curate each arrangement and spend a lot of time propagating new plants. Their voluptuous leaves, exotic shapes and repetition share similar qualities found in my figurative work.
FP: What are several tips you would give emerging artists to get more exhibitions and press?
KM: No one knows you exist if you live under a rock!!! If you are an artist who cares about exhibitions and press, it’s important to be visible and active in your community by attending exhibitions, critiques, encourage studio visits, etc. If you make good work and put it out there, you will be noticed! I’ve had a lot of success sending press packets to galleries and the media.
FP: What do you love to do when you are not making art?
KM: When I’m not painting, I can be found playing with and loving on my two cats Hans and Sienna (who are both named after pigments – hansa yellow and raw sienna). Working in my garden and yoga are also ways I like to spend time.
FP: Name a few favorite artists or people who inspire you.
KM: For inspiration, I look at all kinds of art; including traditional western art, like Josef Albers, David Hockney and Alex Katz to Navajo weavings.
New Zealander Tucker paints compelling still lifes, using oil, graphite and resin on board to create a distinctively rich, lacquered sheen. His creations have acquired international acclaim. Tucker has held successful exhibitions in the USA, Asia, Australia and the UK and was featured on Art Melbourne’s New Generation Platform in 2012, a showcase for emerging artists deserving serious credit from collectors and investors. In that same year, he was awarded the Royal Overseas League Visual Arts Travel Scholarship. Tucker has also exhibited at the Royal Academy.
FP: How did you find your way into the world of art?
RT: I started experimenting with art at a young age. I began with an abstract approach, with close reference to expression and ‘outsider’ art, often using gathered household materials as tools to paint. I was very passionate about the ideology behind application and mark- making, and continued to experiment and develop my subject to become more considered and stylised. I was fortunate enough to have people take interest in my work from the start.
FP: How do you feel your work has evolved over the years, in particular the seemingly increased emphasis on still life?
RT: I moved from raw abstraction to painting accessible subjects, such as ships and still lifes. I felt like I had a new, fresh approach in portraying such a traditional subject. However, subject matter isn’t my real focus. It’s just a vehicle for me to explore painterly application – something that has captured me throughout my entire career.
FP: Tell us about the subject matter of your work and why ships feature so prominently in your work?
RT: I live in Auckland, New Zealand, which is a harbour city. I’ve seen huge ships passing through town. However, the ships don’t hold much symbolism for me. They are merely vessels for my process. I feel they complement the way that I bring my tools to each board with an almost aggressive energy. I enjoy referencing two opposing subjects – industrial masculine ships and the still lifes – plants, fruit and pots – which in comparison seem so delicate and pure.
FP: Does personal history work its way into your practice?
RT: My work has always been a quest of creative self-exploration, breaking down barriers of subject matter so I can develop my own way of perceiving it.
FP: How did your painting style and use of materials develop?
RT: I have continued to play on imperfections and painterly application throughout my career – this hasn’t changed. My perception and influence is developing as I grow as an artist however. I’m now becoming more interested in abstraction again, focusing on depicting the essence of mark-making – taking a more concentrated approach.
FP: Have you experimented with other mediums in your career?
RT: I predominately work with paint, which plays a strong sculptural role in my application – constructing and deconstructing the layers with hardware tools. It was through this practice that I began to consider sculpture. I’ve made plaster sculptures based loosely upon the objects I’ve depicted in my still life work, which I’ve used as 3D canvases. I’m currently working on composing an installation of these sculptures to then photograph in a painterly context, recreating them to resemble one of my paintings – something of a paradox.
FP: You have exhibited in many different places around the world from Jakarta to Singapore and from Hong Kong to New York. Did you find that travel also brought different perspectives to how your art has been viewed?
RT: The international art fairs have allowed my art to be exposed to a very broad market. It’s great to have my work viewed alongside other artists and galleries that I admire.
FP: Where can we see your work this year?
RT: It’s a busy year for me, which is good as it forces me to keep practising and challenging myself stylistically. I have a solo exhibition opening in London at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery in September (7 September – 1 October, www.rebeccahossack.com). This is an exciting venture for me – I’m looking at showcasing a new abstracted range of work. Other up and coming art fairs: Seattle Art Fair 4-7th August; LAPADA 12-18th September; Art Toronto 27-31st October; Miami Project 29 November-4th December
FP: What would you say to emerging artists who are trying to develop their careers and show their work as extensively as you have?
RT: Practise and continue to develop your own creative identity – don’t rush this. Always persevere, both in your space and in the market.
FP: How do you come up with the ‘non-places’ and architecture in your work?
MT: Non-place is a term I borrowed from the French post structuralist writer Marc Augé who has written several books examining the human environment and what it says about our society. His book ‘Non-places – a guide to supermodernity’ articulates much of what I find interesting about how we define space and place. Essentially non-places are the connecting blocks between all the places or destinations where life takes place. They’re the overlooked everyday spaces that are transient in nature and seldom ever the destination itself. Airports and subways are great examples of non-places but there are numerous more subtle spaces that are equally transient and in some ways even more mundane.
I’ve always been drawn to architecture and the built environment. I’m attracted to functional and mechanical things too ﹘ how they work or are constructed. The built environment is a reflection of our sociology, our politics and our culture but also an agent that shapes those things as our environment changes and places and spaces become repurposed.
As my work has progressed I’ve come to realise that it is not simply an interest in non-places or architecture, but more broadly it is also a way of thinking about my own sense of place, my experiences of a pretty transient lifestyle and finding familiar and generic spaces that serve as more personal spatial and temporal markers. By painting non places we have to also consider places in the same way as omitting the figure from my paintings encourages us to think about the figure or at least the absence of it. I have in the past made paintings of more specific places but I avoid the iconic because they are usually so dense with meaning to so many people that they don’t allow for such a subtle interaction or reflection. In some way it is a little like how minimalism works, if too much is happening then the mind of the viewer becomes too busy and the message or meaning of the work can be drowned out in all the noise. Place and non-place are two sides of the same coin and I am interested in both equally and what each says about the other and about us.
FP: Briefly describe your creative process.
MT: For the last few years my work has been very much linked to photography, both the aesthetic of the work is grounded in photography but also the way that I see the world and the way that I capture my content and subject matter. Most of my content is captured on the go, by chance on my iPhone. There is something appealing about the limited ability of an iPhone, even though the image quality is often pretty good it lacks the same level of control and sophistication of a DSLR and this means that I’m less likely to work so tightly to the photograph. There is a temptation when working from a super crisp, high resolution image to try to be too faithful to the photograph and this means that the painting can suffer. The point of making a painting that is based on a photograph is to make the medium do something besides just recreate the image, the materiality of the paint itself and the way the paint is used and applied must be relevant to the content or the fact that it’s painted becomes meaningless.
I take thousands of photographs, most of them just come from my daily activity and I don’t actively seek them out with any predetermination. The mundane, everydayness of the image has to be appealing and there are usually very strong formal and compositional elements that attract me to the potential image initially. I try to take several photos and I review them instantly. One of the beauties of digital photography is there is such immediacy about editing the selection, discarding what doesn’t work and refining the next shot so that you can end up with the desired angle, composition and lighting etc. very very quickly. Once I’ve selected an image to paint I will decide on the elements of the composition that I want and I’ll grid the image so that I can transcribe it to the canvas. I have learnt to paint and draw in numerous ways and each method offers a different aesthetic. When I work from photographs I like to push them between various degrees of realism and abstraction in the hope of dislocating or unsettling the viewer. Both the image and the painting should cast some doubts and function beyond simple representation or illusion of space.
FP: How do you feel your experiences shaped your subject matter?
MT: I think my experiences of travel as a child and a teenager have shaped my fascination with space, architecture and the definitions of place vs non-place. I’ve often made work that has dealt with very specific places and it’s interesting to consider how different that feels to transient spaces or non-places and the way that the image needs to be treated differently. Places are rooted in deeply personal experiences that are often universally relatable and non-places are far more universally experienced but we each have a very personal set of feelings about them and what they might mean or signify. I suspect some of my new work going forward will deal with imagery from the personal and private places I have experienced and that these will serve as a contrast to the more generic non-places I have been making for a while. In either case, one is also always about the other to some degree and so it feels right to make work that explores both ends of the spectrum.
I also think so much of the technology available at a given time creeps into the work, if it’s available, artists will find a use for it. For me photography has been the most pervasive technology in my lifetime and I think it still remains the most significant means of mass communication. Even when artists don’t use photography directly in their art it has such a huge impact on research, source material, documenting and communicating ideas. Its effect is felt even where it isn’t seen and it accelerates the exchange of ideas.
FP: What are some of the differences between the UK and the US Art scenes that you noticed?
MT: I’ve been living in New York now for a little less than 3 years so I’m always making comparisons between here and London but I can’t really comment on the rest of the US as my experience has really been based here.
I currently work as an art handler in New York to help fund my studio practice so I get to see the extreme end of the art market which is so far removed from actually being an artist and working in your studio.
New York is clearly the centre of the market in terms of the volume of sales through auctions and galleries but I think it would be doing a massive disservice to London, Paris, Berlin etc if we assumed that was the only measure of an art capital.
As far as comparisons go for viewing art I think both New York and London have some great institutions but I am certainly biased in favour of the Tate Modern as a focal point for modern and contemporary art. The fact that it is so vast, such an architectural marvel, has free admission and hosts such a broad and international collection makes it the best contemporary art institution in my mind.
New York has an incredible gallery scene though and I think the fact that there are areas like Chelsea and the Lower East Side where you can just do a massive gallery crawl all within a small area is second to none.
Studio space in both cities is desperately over-priced and has absolutely no connection to affordability so it’s quite a commitment to decide that this is the career you want. I think it’s important to make that commitment though and to have that accountability and a space to make and show your practice. It’s also one of the reasons that artists are so drawn to New York and London, because your audience, curators, gallerists, art historians and other artists are all part of your community.
There are differences in trends between the two cities and I think this is in large part due to our different histories in art. There is certainly more of a taste for abstraction and more muted palettes here in New York and greater emphasis on figuration and realism in London but those are also relatively general terms that have plenty of counter examples. I believe that where you make art now is probably less relevant to the outcome than it has ever been and many artists move pretty freely between medium, subject matter and their aesthetic.
FP: Name some artists that you are currently looking at.
MT: Two of the stand out shows for me so far this year have both been at Anton Kern Gallery in New York; one was Eberhard Havekost who I have admired for quite some time and the other is Nicole Eisenman who I have only really recently come to realise just how awesome her work is. They are masterful paintings and you really need to see them in the flesh to fully appreciate them. The same is true of Havekost and I think it’s something I really learnt and value about figurative or representational painting; the material of the paint has to function above and beyond the image for it to be a truly exceptional painting. It’s something that I strive for in my paintings, that the experience of actually viewing them has a tangible quality that activates your sense of touch and feeling. Many things look good on instagram but for me paintings often succeed because of their physical qualities, being able to see a brush stroke or a layer of paint, a build up of it or a stripping down of it activates something far beyond the flat image of a photograph or on a computer screen. Up and coming painters that are worth watching for me are Sebastian Fierro Castro and Sarah Slappey, I studied with both of them at Hunter and share a studio building with Sarah, they are two painters who really love and understand their medium and are doing interesting things with it. Augustus Nazzaro is another painter and a friend who I work with and he has an up and coming group show at Ronchini Gallery in London, his paintings are really interesting both on a content and material level and well worth looking out for. Cy Gavin’s recent show at Seargent’s Daughters was a really strong show of painting too, it’s always evident when a painter enjoys their medium so much and I think on the whole it’s something that really gets generously received by the viewer. Another friend and Hunter grad who is worth keeping an eye on is GaHee Park, her paintings deal with domestic scenes from the viewpoint of pets and plants and they are both humorous and absurd and invite a welcome shift of consciousness.
I’m always looking at the work of other painters as a means of problem solving, seeing the way that they deal with certain visual issues is a great way to come up with solutions even if the content, aesthetic or handling are very different to your own. The list is always long and forever changing and growing but some of my current favourites besides Eisenman and Havekost include Koen Van Den Broek, Rudolf Stingel, Nigel Cooke, Caroline Walker, Thoralf Knoblach and Zhang Enli.
FP: What advice would you give emerging artists looking to find their creative focus?
MT: Well I still consider myself an emerging artist, I studied art when I was much younger but didn’t really turn to art as a career until much more recently. Now I definitely describe art as my career and I define myself as an artist. I think that is an important part of it for me. I went back to school to get my degree and then came to do my Masters here in New York to really give myself all the opportunities to succeed. I think education is hugely beneficial but perhaps even more importantly it’s a chance to build a community of people who push you forward and support each other.
As far as creative focus goes you need to consider what compels you to make art, what you want to explore and what aspects of making excite you. For me the process of creating is at least as important as the outcome, probably more so, but the outcome also often makes the process worthwhile. Keeping something akin to a scrap book or a wall where you physically post things has always been a great idea for me too. Anything that you are drawn to in a magazine, book or online, tear it out, copy it, print it and post it on the wall. Eventually a number of patterns and interests emerge. Sometimes even the photocopying or printing of something elicits a whole new avenue of possibilities too. It’s valuable to engage in as many forms of capture as you can like good old fashioned observational drawings. These always offer a different perspective and aesthetic and also serve as great jumping off points for new ideas. Often the inaccuracies, deletions and distortions in a free hand drawing or even a bleached out photocopy can be infinitely more interesting and communicative than the details in a photograph.
The best advice is just to work and allow yourself to play, make as many mistakes or hideous things as you need to. Problems are seldom ever solved by thinking alone and thinking without doing or acting is often a great recipe for being really stuck in the studio. I speak from experience on that one! The way I’ve always overcome problems or creative blocks has been simply to take action. When you take action you are immediately shifted to a new position that either solves the problem or moves you in a direction that presents different options and that really helps to get the mind working again.
FP: We admire your freedom in exploring painting, drawing, printmaking and installation work. Explain how you navigate the different mediums.
LHW: Thank you! I definitely consider myself a painter, first and foremost, and I feel like any other medium that I delve into, I approach from this painterly perspective. With that though, I always let the material guide the direction it takes my work, whether it be a monoprint, a large-scale mural, a quick moniker doodle, or otherwise. I truly enjoy pushing myself in new directions, and never want to limit myself to one medium or approach. I don’t want to fit into a box or be able to define what I do in a single sentence. Life is far too complex. Which I think is why I am drawn to painting in the first place and have always been frustrated with the definitive black and white nature of words. Painting has such an incredible way of allowing complexity, subtlety, nuance and emotion all to exist within the expression.
FP: We love your use of bold color. How do you come up with the palette for each piece?
LHW: Color is such an intuitive process for me. I try to not over-think it and really just allow it to be a reactionary process, where choices are made in response to the previous ones and the proportion of those colors. Color is fascinating to me, because it solely relies on the other colors that surround it to define it. It is a conversation. This process relies heavily on feeling and being receptive to what mood it is creating within its context. In my current work, I’m especially trying to experiment with the density of color and push bold combinations to see what they can do for the mood of a piece. I also intentionally use unusual color combinations within the body to push the ambiguity of race and address the equity of humans.
FP: Who are the figures in your work?
LHW: The figures in my work are truly meant to embody anybody. They are simply meant to feel familiar and relatable. Like with my use of color, I also intentionally blur the defining characteristics of race or gender for this reason. The thing about figurative painting that I find so profound is that when you see a painting of a person, it doesn’t seem to matter who the figures are, just that we recognize them and have a sense of what they might be thinking and it evokes emotion and empathy. You as the viewer are able to put yourself in the shoes of that figure or imagine your own narrative.
That being said, even though the specificity of who the figures are isn’t really important to me, I do use friends, family, random people walking down the street or on the subway, and just anyone who is around me as references for paintings. I am always observing interactions and people’s body language and taking note, whether through a quick snap on my phone or drawing it in my sketchbook for future reference for a painting.
FP: Name a few topics you are exploring and communicating within your art.
LHW: At the core of my work, I hope to really just tap into how it feels to be a human in our contemporary world. I am interested in our daily experiences, how we relate or ignore each other and what these interactions look like. I think that so many of the issues that arise in our fast paced and isolated world are linked to the way that we are able to separate and disassociate ourselves from one another. But through painting, I am interested in dissolving these barriers to help us feel human and connected.
I recently have been exploring how time can be perceived and recorded within a painting as well. I’m interested in charting people’s movement through space and time. In this way, the paintings can feel cinematic. They hold a lapse of time, allowing the past moments to layer into one another and simultaneously exist. In this day and age, there is such a disconnection between our mind and body. We often are caught up anticipating future interactions or analyzing ones that have already happened. We have endless distractions all around us, and in our pockets, keeping us from experiencing the present moment. Whether I am painting a delayed moment, a portrait of a figure that just can’t seem to sit still, or a merging of moments and people that have melded together in one’s memory, I’m interested in documenting time and movement through the layering of paint.
FP: Are you a full time artist? How do you balance your studio practice and other responsibilities?
LHW: I am a full time artist, however I do also have a couple of flexible and complementary part-time jobs that provide some consistency to help pay the bills of student loans and living/having a studio in the ever-increasing rent of the San Francisco Bay Area. One of these jobs is working the events and performances at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, an incredible art institution that really is pushing boundaries of what their role is as an art institution within the community. I also work as a Production Assistant for a product designer in SF, where I do repetitive wood working production, which I enjoy and find very physically meditative. I’m truly appreciative that both of these positions are inspiring to my own practice as well as incredibly flexible and allow me to leave for months at a time for my own projects or residencies etc. and then return and still have extra work when I want it.
But balancing other work with my studio practice definitely can be tricky and being an artist truly is a hustle. I just try to always make painting my ultimate priority. I really can’t help wanting to be in my studio in any and every free moment that I have anyways. Painting truly is my happy place. A place where I can be fearless, quiet the chatter of the world and my brain, and it helps me to better understand, question and re-examine myself, the world around me, as well as what I thought I knew and what I have yet to discover.
FP: What are you currently working on? What goals do you have for your art this year?
LHW:I have a couple of group shows lined up that I will be working towards in Spring 2017, and I have some potential mural mock ups in the works as well. One goal I have for the year is to do my biggest mural project thus far. I would love the challenge of pushing my work to a larger scale then ever before explored. Next month my partner, Dan Bortz, and I will be traveling along the coast and on the islands of Italy for 6 weeks assisting the incredible artist and wall painter, MOMO. On this trip, I have plans to put up many wheatpastes and have goals of making some spontaneous murals happen along the way as well.
I also am looking into Residencies for this coming year and definitely have goals to connect with new communities of artists and show at some new galleries. I am always excited to expand my network, travel and meet other passionate and genuine people to work with.
Kate Shaw was born in Sydney and currently lives/works between Melbourne and New York.
In 2014, Shaw has had a successful showing at ART 14, London and solo exhibitions at The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong and Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne. Currently her work is touring to museums throughout Asia as part the Asialink curated exhibition Vertigo including MOCA Taipei and POSCO Seoul. She was awarded a residency in New York supported by the Australia Council for the Arts at Point B Worklodge. She will be featured in the ABCTV documentary ‘Conquest of Space’ and ‘Spectrum’ Index Book, Barcelona. Her work was also included in ‘Landscape and its Psyche’ published by University of NSW. A series of prints of her work has been launched with Urban Outfitters. Urban Art Projects has commissioned her for large-scale murals at the Macquarie Centre, Sydney, also launching this year.
FP: What inspired you to become an artist? What was your first early creative experience that made you pursue this path.
KS: I was very lucky to have parents that encouraged creativity. My brother and I would spend hours drawing and making things, rather than sitting in front of a TV. We also spent a lot time in nature, walking and on adventures. These early experiences informed my engagement and love of nature. When I finished high school I started a degree in psychology, as I was interested in human perception. In the end art spoke to me more about this kind of enquiry as it embraced the mysterious and un-measurable.
FP: Your landscapes feature beautiful, yet unnatural color. What is your work about and what do you hope the viewer takes away from it?
KS: Often the colour in my work is derived from an experience in a landscape, where the light is at its highest contrast. An amped up magic hour. Other times I am interested in conveying a screen based, unnatural palette to consider the tension between our connection and disconnection to the natural world. I also consider imaginary worlds and places – Mars with a breathable atmosphere inhabited by humans, the time and place of nuclear test sites and the moment of the blast. I am aiming to capture moments of molecular and energetic change.
My new body of work particularly considers the Anthropocene – defined as a geological age where human activity is the dominant influence on the climate and the environment. My work imagines this new epoch, conjuring imagery that conflates the artificial and the natural, the sublime and the toxic, the creative and destructive. I both draw upon imagery of places I have visited that show the evidence of past and present climatic change, such as Iceland, Central Australia and the South West of the US. As well new forms of geology created by human activity – such as plastiglomerate (rock and plastic conglomerates formed from burned garbage) and Fordite (a ‘rock’ made entirely of layers of automotive paint).
FP: How do you come up with the color palettes in your paintings?
KS: I work very intuitively with colour. I am sure my knowledge of Colour Theory is coming out in the work, but I very much work in the moment with colour. I also like experimenting with different iridescent and interference paints, pigments and glitters – anything that transforms the perception of light. I also love seeing what has occurred spontaneously within the pours – there is a lovely macro/micro relationship happening as different mediums react and create fractal patterns that also occur in nature, as small as a web of capillaries or a view of a river system from space.
FP: How do you prepare for each work? Where do you get your references and inspiration?
KS: Most of the time my inspiration comes from actually visiting a landscape and connecting to the forms, colours and energies of the land. Other works are from our contemporary interaction with the natural world, whether it be solving climate change or seeking to inhabit new planets. I take these as reference points but I always go back too what I see in the paint itself, what forms are appearing to me.
FP: What artists or movements are you currently interested in?
KS: I am a fan of individual artists more that a movement as such. I love Lynda Benglis, Julie Mehetru, Katharina Grosse, Fiona Hall, Tracey Moffat, Lee Krasner and Georgia O Keefe
FP: Share a brief piece of advice that helped you in your art career.
KS: Make work that you love and don’t try to prove anything to anyone else. Find your instincts and trust them.
FP: What do you enjoy doing when you are not in the studio?
KS: I enjoy dinners with friends, openings, yoga, bike riding and walking in parks and the wilderness.
Nalini ‘Deedee’ Cheriel is a visual artist who started out creating record covers and T-shirts for the Oregon music scene in the early ‘90s. Born in the hippie town of Eugene, Oregon, she began her own band and record label at the age of 19. Influenced by the popular DIY culture of that time, she played in several all-girl bands (Juned, Adickdid, The Teenangels, The Hindi Guns) and co-created the semi-autobiographical film Down and Out with the Dolls. This artist has lived and studied abroad: Honduras, Chile, England, Portugal, Spain and her native India.
Now residing in Los Angeles, Cheriel’s work explores narratives that recognize the urgency and conflict in our continuing attempts to connect to the world. With influences derived from such opposites as East Indian temple imagery, punk rock, and her Pacific Northwest natural environment, her images are indications of how we try to connect ourselves to others and how these satirical and heroic efforts are episodes of compassion and discomfort. Bold elements drawn from landscapes -both urban and natural- and pop culture suggest the ability to find commonalities and relationships between ourselves and our surroundings that inevitably confirm our greater humanity and quest towards love.
FP: We are very much inspired by your background and how you made your way into the art world. Could you tell us more about how your music and film experiences affected your life and your paintings?
DC: When I was in my first all girl band I silk screened all of our shirts that we sold on tour. I got really into the bold and simple imagery that you could make with a silkscreen. I loved playing in bands but it was difficult to maintain a project with so many conflicting ideas and personalities. I ended up writing a semi -autobiographical movie called Down and Out with the Dolls about my time in girl rock bands. After it was made, I played in one more band called The Hindi Guns before I threw in the towel. I love music, it still inspires my work, but now it is a much more chilled out life to paint and not have to hustle in the band life.
FP: You now live in Los Angeles, a vast urban metropolis, somewhere perhaps very different from your previous experiences of living in places such as Honduras or even the Pacific North West. Was it easy for you to adjust to the new cultures and countries when moving around, and how did they influence your work as an artist?
DC: I love traveling and living in new places; I find it to be the most inspiring thing for my work. Most recently I have been spending loads of time in Southern India where my father is from and where I have family. I am incredibly inspired by the temple imagery and the iconography used to tell stories.
FP: What is your creative process like and how has it developed as you’ve matured as a person and as an artist?
DC: I usually do drawings and come up with ideas that I try to figure out on paper and then use the drawings to come up with new paintings for different shows, Painting has become more like a discipline; when I can walk down to my studio and spend time in it every day I get more quality work done. My new studio is quite Zen and I love spending time in it. I think my work has become more refined as I have grown.
FP: Are the scenes in your paintings derived from your own mind’s eye or do you use photographs and any other sources of inspiration?
DC: The scenes in my paintings are derived from narratives that I come up with and do drawings of to try to communicate a story; if I can successfully do a drawing of it, the chances of it succeeding while I paint it are much higher.
FP: What are your biggest challenges in creating art and how do you deal with them?
DC: My biggest challenge now is how to peel myself away from my son in order to make work. I love being a mother and find my son to be an infinite source of new ideas and he has a magnificent sense of humor. It is hard to want to be alone in my studio making work!
FP: How do you hope viewers respond to your work and what is the most important thing they should take away?
DC: I want viewers to have their own experience with my work. What people see and relate to in my work is always super fun to hear about. I would rather hear someone else’s interpretation of my work than feel I need to convey something to them about my work.
FP: Is there any advice or inspiration based on your travels or other experiences which you could share?
DC: I would just like to say to young women painting not to ever give up or doubt yourself, and when you hear criticism about your work, let it motivate and inspire you to do your best work ever.
Kayla Plosz Antiel was born in Saskatchewan, Canada but has lived in the United States for the past 18 years. She graduated in 2012 from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with an MFA in visual studies. She currently lives and works in Northern Virginia. Antiel has exhibited her work in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Minnesota, and Indiana.
I make paintings because of my acute obsession with the stuffness of paint—its color, mutability, sensuality, and more. Color is weird. Individual colors evoke highly particular emotional responses, but color is rarely hermetic: the interaction between traffic cone orange and over-cooked pea green, for instance, engenders something neither color can achieve in isolation. Motivated by the inexhaustible potentiality of color, I seek to explore and manipulate color relationships within the constructs of an impure abstraction. Impure as my paintings are pulled toward representational ideas and forms–they flirt with representation but are non-committal. My process involves a psychosomatic dialectic: I vacillate between a sort of intuitive bodily sensuality and more logically driven formal decisions. As such each work evolves through the free-play of color and form.
My work is unique in its materiality, process and conceptual basis. As an artist with a background in psychology, it’s no wonder my work is psychological at the core.
Like a well worn, well loved security blanket, my work centers on Donald Winnicott’s historical notion of transitional objects and their universal use throughout life…how in the face of contemporary stress our profound, intimate, seemingly irrational attachment to objects helps nurture security, mitigate distress and form our authentic selves, as individuals in general, and women in particular.
Likewise, I’m influenced by Korean Bojagi wrapping cloths, painstakingly hand crafted by “unknown women” and used for centuries to wrap objects, elevating the role of women and objects to high art, in ways similar to Judy Chicago, the women of Gees Bend, and Rosemarie Trockel, among others.
The antique linen I use is integral both to the conceptual basis and visual aesthetics of my work. Hand woven by women in the 1800’s, it was originally used as bed sheets and duvet covers, security blankets in their own right. The coarse threads, hand stitched seams, and occasional repairs highlight the vestiges of the female hand and engender a sense of strength, authenticity and beauty in that which is genuine and imperfect.
My handling of materials is intimate and engaging as I fold, crease and paint, creating structural dimensionality and imbuing my work with a veritable soul. Collectively termed Self-Help, my titles serve as wry provocations to cope with contemporary life and get comfortable in our own skin.
Whatever you spend a lot of time thinking about becomes important. Paying intense attention to overlooked details of the natural world elevates mundane things like the patterns of weeds and reflections of different conditions of water to a place that demands notice. Enlarging these often-ignored instances of intricate beauty and isolating them from the distractions of their normal surroundings draws attention to them.
There is so much to see that it is overwhelming trying to notice all of the little things that make a scene uniquely beautiful, even if it is just a pile of dead weeds. It is a matter of seeing, of noticing the relationships of color, light, and pattern that unlock the image. Part of it is a willingness to slow down.
Many of the paintings in this body of work contain conspicuously empty areas surrounded by areas of careful pattern and detail. The absences underscore the importance of what remains and vice versa. Traditional landscape paintings, which function as artificial windows into nature, are actually man-made interventions housed in constructed environments. The walls on which they hang might be in neighborhoods where weeds are the only plant life or there is no body of water for miles. It is therefore all the more necessary to appreciate the beauty of what vestiges of the natural world remain.
The appearance of water changes according to your vantage point. When you’re looking right down at it, you see the bottom, and the farther out, the more the water reflects everything else: the water quality itself, the color of the water, the turbulence, and everything all at the same time, and it all comes together in this pattern. Wherever you go in the world, water behaves in a reliable manner in terms of its patterns of movement and reflection.
Regardless of whether I’m painting plants or water, I’m always searching for relationships within the image that I might not have noticed. It is sort of a compulsion to make sense of something that seems impossibly complex and chaotic. If you stare at something long enough, the hope is that it will begin to make sense. Sometimes it happens during the making. I start to notice elements that line up in a certain way, and those things intersect with another line of logic such as a change in scale or a shift in color. Once I see the patterns, everything makes sense.