Arist Interview with James Oliver Gallery

Rather than a typical artist statement or Bio, provided here is the text of an interview with Gary Koenitzer and Phildelphia’s James Oliver Gallery

Question: Why is art your outlet?

When I was very young and during the cold winters of Pennsylvania, I became fascinated with art as a form of escape. I first developed a powerful love for the outdoors as part of my life on a grand country estate. It was set on hundreds of acres just teaming with vast hill top vistas, rivers, streams, forests, lighting bugs and blinking stars at night. I found it all incredibly fascinating and vibrant. I went outdoors as often as possible just to be part of it all. But during the coldest parts of the winter I was more confined to the indoors after a couple hours of sledding and snow ball fights. Reading and TV were good but were too passive. I looked for a deeper personal interaction, physical activity and most of all open invention. Art was the instant answer. I could escape the confinement of the walls of my house and explore or literally create vast unknown worlds enitirely original to me. This awareness itself, that being I could create any kind of visual world I wanted to became a driving force within me. I would step back from these worlds and wondered what made some more inviting than others. Who else might have the same reaction and why? I wanted to create my own interpretation of this world by creating new worlds with in it. Then watch the life of the art work as if it were a type of character itself.

Question: I know you’ve been interested in art from a very young age (7 or so ) Who were the artist that fascinated you then, and who interests you now?

Then: Picasso, Mattisse, Pollock, Duchamp, Wharhol, kahlo, Dweck, Calder, Polke, Dubuffet, Lichtenstein, Basquiat, Koons, Ansel Adams.

Now: Olafur Eliasson, Agustin Reche Mora,  Hockney, Julian Opi, Banksy, Turrell, Richard Prince, Richard Serra, David Burdeny, Langley Fox, Elizabeth Peyton, Juan Francisco Casas, Marjetica Potrc, Sophie Calle, Fracis Alys, Jeff Wall, Gurskey, Antony Gormley, Doug Aitken, Yoko Ono, James Mylne, Yayoi Kusama, Dayanita Singh, Craig McDean, Francois-Xavier Marciat, Mona Hatoum, Sture JoHannesson, Nicole Koenitzer, Dana Koenitzer. and Sarah Koenitzer

Question: What is the biggest inspiration behind you art?

The art work of the great artists of the world as well as the act of creation itself. I remember reading at a young age  Jacob Bronkowski’s book “The ascent of man”. The focus was about how we as a species have distinguished ourselves through invention. In it he wrote “While animals leave behind fossils of their being. humans leave behind those things they create”.  He went on to note that all human cultures were ultimately defined by those things created unique to them and other wise known as their culture. This one thought was the first tenor of my fascination with this uniquely human ability. Being creative seems to have a enigmatic purpose along with it being fun and rewarding to invent something new. For those looking for purpose I believe this is it. Thus was born my facination with the impact art has on life itself.

Question: How has your process changed over time? 

When I first started to paint I loved creating abstractions. Pollock really inspired me in that he got up and was physically moving and dripping paint onto the canvas as part of his process. I loved the random symmetry and action of it all. I did things in a similar way perhaps yet with even more action than Pollock. My early work looked like the paint had been blasted from a cannon onto the canvas. I was very exclusive to this process as well as never wanting a recognizable object in my work for some time. I have gone through many phases since then leading up to the process of linear mix. Oddly when I became a full time artist it was as if I could no longer do non objective work. It was the past for me in a way. So I decided to paint portraits of artists whom had inspired me yet to paint them in my own style and not theirs. Then I created my artist as art series. After this I then started to explore new mediums and that brought about a new process. Once I discovered aluminum and ink I was on a roll. This also resulted in my returning to non objective work along with continuing with portraits and expanding into abstracted minimal landscapes and figurative work. Then I mixed in digital painting tools and photography which further expanded my process style and type of work and a new medium to me called Lenticular.  

Question: You use uncommon media in your pieces. What made you choose those media, (i.e. Aluminum, Fluorescent, digital and lenticular ) rather than traditional ones?

From the very beginning I felt traditional paint mediums had enough champions already. I wanted to invent something new. So my first step was to not use traditional paint in the way it was primarily used in the past. I did not want to learn how traditional artists painted. I did not think there was a right way to paint. As an artist I felt it was my mission to create my own way to paint and create new kinds of art in general. I started mixing other mediums in with some of the traditional paints like oil with aluminum or ink with acrylic then experimenting until I found a color and texture which for me had something new about it. A few paint manufactures also experimented with making new types of paint such as fluorescence and also ink markers. I would immediately explore these new products.

Question: How do you think modern day technological advances has shaped and/or changed art.

Technology advances have always been the greatest influence on society and art in general since Mesopotamia. Fundamentally art creation has been expanded exponentially with technology development and growth. It’s influence on art is massive. If you take just one aspect of art, for example such as hue, the present day artist can select from hundreds of thousand of choices.  Software tools virtually allow the artist to create an infinite set of hues. Computer software control over light and wavelengths are so precise and refined it is absolutely amazing.  An artist of the first half of the twentieth century would need years to hand mix every possible hue of just one color. Today you can roll though them with a mouse or touch pad in minutes.  But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  When you combine all the technology available from digital tablets, creative software suites to smart phones, a whole new breed of artists, art and categories of art are and will continue to emerge.  The greatest influence technology has of all on art is not however artistic creative tools but rather world wide access to it using the internet. And it is no surprise there are many new categories of art in this twenty first century that did not exist in the past directly due to technology advances. This fact is yet another present day inspiration for me given these new tools and capabilities were not available to artist of just thirty years ago.

Question: Please explain your “Linear Mix”  Style.

My linear mix style comes from two significant childhood memories. At the time I was being taught how to write in block style printing. Then one day I noticed a letter sent by my father from abroad. He of course wrote in cursive letters. Then I noticed my mother sitting at a desk and writing in cursive. Her hand just moved over the paper in a smooth, natural float. It looked easy and fun unlike the more deliberate movements of block lettering. I wanted to do this and thinking it was easy I just started moving my pencil over the paper in squiggly like patterns thinking it would just happen. What came out was a pretty interesting Chinese looking kind of fragmented lines. I wrote several pages of it thinking I had mastered this cursive style. I of course did not need to be told it was just gibberish but it felt like something very cool to me. Something about both its look and natural feel letting my fingers and hand relax and creating these expressive lines was magical. Many years later I realized they were in fact a kind of symmetry similar to what is found naturally in nature called Fibonacci sequence. I also began to see a prolific symmetry in natural and human faces that was most fasinating and inspiring. I saw it as a type of evidence that beauty had siginicants far beyond the surface. It was a message of intelligence and infinite possiblilities. As a speicies we were naturally and tenaciously drawn to it. Exactly why we are all drawn to symmetry regardless of culture and as a species I beieve is a mystery of a profound unexplainable origin. For example a lifeless planet is not likely to have anything symmetrical to a prolific extent, while our planet which has life is virtually endless with symmetry. I would continue with this free form drawing as a type of doodling for several years and then one day just stopped. Yet something about the look, ease and natural unconscious flow of it was unforgettable. This feeling began to haunt me years later when attempting to draw and it was at this point I moved away from precise lines to fragmented lines and shapes.  That’s it. 

Question: How do you feel about contemporary art? 

I think present day art could not be more explosive or diverse.  It is fascinating that all of it together is beyond a complete definition at the moment. There is some regression going on too as part of the vintage craze.  Some art movements considered over are still alive. Such as plein air, impressionism, abstractions and pop art. A surprising number of present day artists are still doing this very oddly making it part of present day art. But are we lacking new movements ? No, at last count more than 25 new movements have been noted for the 21st century. Two movements I like most called Post-post modernism and Metamodernism take on scale like nothing before it. Like Olafur Eliasson’s Brooklyn water falls for example. As Timotheus Vermeulen often writes that there is an oscillation, a swinging or swaying with and between future, present and past, here and there and somewhere; with and between ideals, mindsets, and positions. This observation is very evident to me everywhere. I can truly feel it. If someone were to ask me to explain what is Metamodernism is simple English, I would say it is the a constant repositioning, oscillation and mixing of any thing including one’s feelings and thoughts. Such as the past with the present or polar opposites of mediums, textures and values. This is what I am doing with linear mix. This is culturally happening right now around the globe with no actual explanation and I like it. There is a concurrency of opposite acceptance in lyrics and human relationships such as the work of Davichi. Contemporary art is so vast however I don’t believe the general public and many present day artist can readily recognize it. There has always been a larger proportion of people who are more comfortable with what is known and done rather than the new and unexplained. This is human nature. But I remain optimistic that the historical time lag between public recognition of a new contemporary art movement and the actual time the art work was created will be far less than in the past. This is because the speed at which information travels around the world continues to accelerate. There is also a greater acceptance of the concurrency of non similar art and thought as well. A painting that actually captures the reality of concurrent emotions is on the drawing board for me. However even the planing phase of this concept is time intensive. In summary, the contemporary arts of the art world is like open source code now. You can step onto the stage with no reference to the past at all.

Question: What do you see for the future of your art, and the art world in general ?

One thing you can continue to expect is a non audience which sees art as bushwa, cliche or impractical. It is almost like anti matter has to exist so that matter exist. I plan to make my art more portable, durable and affordable as a practical matter at one level. My experimentation will hone in on an open aesthetic perspective. I am looking for more reserve and calm in my art. I will most definitely grow my digital art as it is the most sought after of all the work I do. I will futher develope my lenticular line. I want to dive into the Metamodernism movement as for the first time in my history I will actually attempt to be part of a movement. However my outside everything else genre will stay the core of my theme. What you just read might be considered Metamodernism literature. Art Biennales attendance keeps increasing at a steady pace. Some have become mega events getting half a million attending in one day. Art Basel is stronger than ever. Art Basel Miami has exceeded 50,000 attending the last two years. Major Art auction houses continue to break previous sales records regardless of economic waxes and wanes. The number of artists making a living with their art keeps increasing while the list of art millionaires also continues to increase. The role of the artist in society continues to get recognized and supported by the public and government with grants, events and aggressive private collectors. The value of design skills is getting wider acknowledgement especially in housing and web development industry. Affordable individual ecommerce now on smart phones puts artists in business across the globe with ease. Access to art has increased at an immeasurable amount with the wide distribution and use of the Internet along with the sad decline of brick and mortar galleries. The fate of the brick and mortar gallery is the most difficult to forecast yet I remain optimistic. I think the answer is to bring the internet inside the gallery. Access, delivery and exposure is the driver of the arts future.  Portable, durable and affordable fits the streamlined new art collector well opening art up to all income levels. What I call lofty art that being collectable art which has become something akin to corporate stock will remain the playground of the worlds most wealthy and will prosper with out any tangible explanation. Art collectors of this 21 century will increase to include just about anyone. However, getting art for free will intensely compete with getting someone to pay for it.  More artist will emerge and get significant recognition than any century before. This is of course only my crystal ball forecast and intuitive premonition. There is no question art will remain at the core of human evolution as well as its greatest inherited gift.  

ANIMATE AIGA SPACE Gallery Exhibition

To the best of our knowlegde AIGA SPACE gallery of Philadelphia was the first gallery in the world to use QR CODES to exhibit hundred of works of animated art on smart phones as a physical gallery presentation in April of 2014. Nicole Koenitzer was the inventer and organizer of this AIGIA SPACE gallery event. This idea also attracted an impressive list of participants including New York City’s Museum Of Modern Art MOMA LAB, The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Silicon fine arts to name just a few of over 50 contributors. This event was also the debut of Gary Koenitzer’s digital character ” Symmertra” as a digital animation. Gary Koenitzer also produced the below video and wrote and performed the sound track.