INFP Part I: The Mediator

According to their type description, INFPs seek goodness and per their name, are great communicators.

They also are story tellers. Whether it be Eleanor Ray’s soft, intimate interiors, Zachary Carlisle Davidson’s illustrative prints or William Paul Thomas’s plush blanket series, these INFPs are writing new narratives – narratives that have been otherwise overlooked, ones that use new materials, ones that make space for the digital and ones that star new characters.

INFP Part I: Eleanor Ray, William Paul Thomas (interviewed here) and Zachary Carlisle Davidson (interviewed here).

ER3Eleanor Ray, Green Construction Fence, 2013, Oil on Panel, 4 x 5″

WPT1William Paul Thomas, Eatin’, Polyester Fleece, 80″ x 60″

ZCDZachary Carlisle Davidson, Echo Chamber

ER 1Eleanor Ray, Villa Livia III, 2016, oil on panel, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches

WPT2William Paul Thomas, French for Antoine, Polyester Fleece, 80″ x 60″

SCD2Zachary Carlisle Davidson,“tHE pLAcEs U wiLL GO”, screenprint – spraypaint stencil- chine collé

 

 

 

INFJ: The Advocate Part I

Anna Buckner

When I moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 2014 multiple people asked me what my Myers Briggs type was. I had no idea. No one had cared before I began graduate school. I took an online version of the assessment and got INFJ: The Advocate. Reading the description made me sit a little higher – the portrayal was overwhelmingly positive (I came to realize later that all of the descriptions of the types at this particular site were overwhelmingly positive.)

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Sul-Jee and I decided to begin a series of posts where we curate a few artists based on their Myers Briggs type. Admittedly, my type changes almost every time I take the test, but I have felt a strong attachment to INFJ from the beginning, and felt affirmed by this decision after SJ let me know that she and Jon Snow were also INFJs.

After collecting types from multiple artists we’ve featured on this blog, we realized that in addition to Sul-Jee and me, Greg Burak and Benjamin Lowery are also both INFJs. That means that 4 of the 5 contributors to this blog share the same type. So much for diversity. We’re kicking off this series with the INFJ contributors to Command Zine.

To get us started, here is a summary for INFJs from 16personalties.com:

“Advocates indeed share a unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – Advocates will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance. Egalitarianism and karma are very attractive ideas to Advocates, and they tend to believe that nothing would help the world so much as using love and compassion to soften the hearts of tyrants.

Advocates find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that Advocates need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw. Advocates take great care of other’s feelings, and they expect the favor to be returned – sometimes that means giving them the space they need for a few days.”

INFJ: Sul-Jee Scully, Anna Buckner, Greg Burak and Benjamin Lowery

SJ2Sul-Jee Scully, Success, 2016, acrylic, flashe, tape, and painted paper on linen over panel, 48″ x 42″

AB1

Anna Buckner, Flesh and Ochre, 2015, pieced fabric scraps on stretcher, 36” x 24”

GB2 INFJGreg Burak, Ghost Hands, 32″ x 37″, Oil on Linen, 2016

BL2 INFJBenjamin Lowery, Operation, 2017, Oil on canvas, 42 x 50″

SJ INFJSul-Jee Scully, Cheez Hand, 2016, acrylic, flashe, tape, and painted paper on linen over panel, 36″ x 48″

Something About that TreeAnna Buckner, Something About that Tree, 2017, pieced fabric scraps on stretcher, 48″ x 36″

GB INFJGreg Burak, Secret Message, 42″ x 38″, Acrylic on Canvas, 2017

BL 1 INFJ

Benjamin Lowery, All Together Now, 2017, Oil on canvas, 71 x 91″

 

Artist Interview: Dustin London

Benjamin Lowery

6_R-A-T-A-Q

R-A-T-A-Q, oil on canvas, 70×60 in.

I met Dustin London at the opening of his solo show Visitation at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, OH. We quickly got engrossed in a conversation about formal painting ideas that brought up disparate painters like Pierre Bonnard and Fernand Léger. I had enjoyed seeing the paintings online, but in person the physical paint application changed the experience substantially. I found his paintings difficult to pin down. They seem to constantly shift, both as a formal whole and in the interaction of layers in the paint surfaces. I was curious about his further thoughts on the work, and I am grateful he agreed to do an interview with me.
 
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One Year, oil on canvas, 42×35 in.

BL: Let’s jump right in. Your paintings have a shared language of shapes, gradients, lines, drop shadows, but the space you create with them from one work to the next are entirely different ideas. Where does the impetus for each work come from and how do you keep them exploring new territory?
DL: The shapes, gradients, lines, etc have developed fluidly over the last 5 years or so, with each of them being discovered through process to serve some purpose in a painting, and I find I keep going back to them. They’ve become my vocabulary. Recently, just to take an “objective” view of my habits, I actually made a chart to distinguish 26 recurring elements that are part of the overall lexicon. I think Howard Hodgkin once said that at a certain point he realized he only needed a swoosh, a dot, and a dash to get all he needed out of painting. Well, I guess I need more than that, but there are endless permutations that can come out of a defined set of elements. The use of gradients came out of my love of 19th century Japanese woodblock prints, and the way artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai would use them to create images that had a certain slippage to them, where everything felt in flux and nothing ever felt grounded. That’s one of the few elements where I can point to a decisive moment when it made an entrance into the work early on. Everything else slowly made repeated appearances through the process of making images, which is largely intuitive. I might start with some really basic shape or compositional idea, some visual anecdote from my surroundings, or a fragment of a previous piece, but each of these act as seeds to get a visual dialogue going which goes in directions I couldn’t have anticipated beforehand. I am, however, always looking for something that surprises me, something that feels alien. Sometimes that might happen because I made some mistake and decided it was more interesting than my initial idea, and other times I’ll reach a point in a composition and consciously decide to interject something foreign, or divide the space in an abrupt way. Oftentimes, I’ll simply try and use color combinations that I haven’t used before, or that go against my natural inclinations, and these end up dictating certain compositional choices. Of course there are certain consistent things I want from the work, but as soon as I feel I start walking down a familiar path to get there, I diverge.
 
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Transmission, oil on canvas, 59×72 in.
 
BL: The gradients initially reminded me of color banding in low quality digital images. That’s fascinating that they come from Japanese woodblock prints. I know we spoke earlier about how diverse periods of painting can somehow align themselves in bizarre ways. I read in a statement of yours that you apply paint like a dot matrix printer. Interestingly, this is far removed from the printing techniques used to achieve Japanese wood block gradients, but create the same visual slippage that you refer to. Can you talk about how you arrived at the physical application of paint in the work?
DL: When I first tried to incorporate gradients they were painted pretty smoothly, kind of like they might appear in a woodblock print. But, that smooth application really smothered the canvas, and they felt dead. It was about that time that I also started using Photoshop to make preparatory drawings. When you make a gradient in Photoshop, you basically set color points and the software fills in the route one color takes to get to another in an additive color system, and when you zoom in closely you can see that it’s not at all a smooth gradient. It’s broken down into minutely changing increments of individual bands of color. That was a light bulb moment, and I started experimenting with a similar but exaggerated approach to applying paint. I’m also fond of the specific kind of intention that goes into making a line. For me, it’s different than applying paint broadly over an area, there’s a different kind of focus to it. With this individuated approach, I get to carry the slow meditative focus that comes with painting repeated lines through to broad areas of a painting to achieve color that moves space like a conveyor belt. I also like the thick body of paint as a material, and the way a bristle brush digs into the paint and records touch in a particular way. The surface of my paintings seem to be getting more varied as time goes by, but this particular method solved a problem and satisfied a material preference.
 
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 Willapa, oil on canvas, 48×40 in.
 

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Willapa  (detail), oil on canvas, 48×40 in.
 
BL: Your work seems to diverge from the digital world as much as it borrows from it. You colors choices, often earthy or subdued, don’t seem to compete with intensity of color of a backlit lcd display, nor does your paint hide its physicality. How much are you looking for an equivalent to a digital experience in paint, or are you after something different altogether?
DL: I started making preliminary drawings in Photoshop because I can work through a composition so much faster. I can make 10 decisions in a half hour that would take months to paint through, and since everything I do remains in the file and nothing is ever truly lost, it allows me to make bolder moves. So I didn’t start working digitally because I had any real interest in it for its own sake, it was just a tool to help me make the kinds of paintings I wanted to find. But the more time I spent working digitally, the more I liked how foreign digital space felt, like there’s a different kind of physics there, and after a long time working in front of a monitor I lose my sense of my own body, and I’m working in a gravityless thought space. But I’m interested in digital space as it relates to process, not the product that results. I’m a painter, I love paint and images that come of that material, so there’s an interesting problem of translation…how does that glowing image on a uniformly plastic screen become a tactile thing. Finding the appropriate surface relationships for any given composition is an important part of the work, whether the surface affirms or subverts the suggestions given by the image. I am interested in the painting maintaining something of that digital “aura”, and that happens through color. Of course color and gradients can be used to create light in an overt way, but I also plan multiple layers of underpainting so that colors under the surface spread out across the underside of the image and complicate or enhance color relationships on the surface, which often creates a sort of internal luminosity. I like when a painting feels like its own light source, and I don’t think I’d be looking to achieve that if I didn’t work digitally. But it can work in the reverse as well. I might be working on a digital drawing that I know will need a certain area to feel like it’s absorbing light rather than emitting it, and I’ll know in advance how I can achieve that through paint.
 

8_Palindrome

Palindrome, oil on canvas, 52×62 in.
 
BL: Yeah, that internal luminosity seems to play a big role in the work, causing a sort of flickering that draws you in. The works appear deliberate and planned on many levels, but they all have some unexpected moment/s that they hinge on, often an interrupting implication of gravity, physical light or movement that sneaks up on you. You mentioned earlier that you are always looking for something that feels alien or surprising. Is it difficult to balance the surprise element with the planning process?
DL: When I start a digital drawing I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I have to find the identity of an image through process. I might work through over 100 versions of a drawing until nothing can be changed or removed without altering that identity. I’m usually after some kind of precarious or subversive spatial proposition, where an image has different implications depending on how it’s read at any given moment. I want to make paintings that feel like a constantly shifting or evolving paradox, but that also hold together as images that feel whole. I want to feel like the painting has developed its own consciousness. So, that quality of interruption or surprise is a crucial part of what I look for when building an image digitally. Your question makes me think about the difference between the words “deliberate” and “planned”. At every phase of making, everything is deliberate. However, there’s no plan until a digital study is finished, That becomes the plan for a painting. That doesn’t mean the plan always does what I want it to! Sometimes I’ll have an idea of how each part of an image should be painted, and it might actually work out for 95% of the painting. Other paintings I have to really fight my way through by trial and error to find a way for the surface to achieve a tension that parallels that of the image. Those paintings are particularly gratifying. Regardless, I always learn something through painting. If I didn’t then I wouldn’t make paintings.
 
6_SyntaxSyntax, oil on canvas, 72×81 in.

Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagon

James Payne

Shawn McBride

No Place Gallery, 9.8.17 – 9.29.17

Curator: James McDevitt-Stredney

JP1Documentation photos courtesy of Jake Holler and No Place Gallery.

Shawn McBride (b. 1990; Ashland, OH) is a L.A.-based painter, for now at least, with deep roots in Ohio. A graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design, McBride lived at Skylab Gallery and kept a studio in No Place Gallery before leaving Columbus for balmier climes.

However, the artwork in McBride’s No Place Gallery exhibition, Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagon, was brought into being close to Ohio’s capital. The whole body of paintings and drawings on show was created in August 2017 at Open Wabi, an artists’ residency in nearby Fredericktown, Ohio, on the site of the former Sun Glow Furniture factory.

JP2Shawn McBride, I Believe In Having Warts Removed Immediately, 2017, 7.5’x 5′, acrylic, collage on canvas.

“Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagonis the name of a celestial being who controls the universe in the 1989 B movie Monster High. The being’s name means “Monster in Charge.” In the film, Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagon resolves a conflict with a character named “Mr. Armageddon” by playing in a basketball game between intergalactic monsters and a high school basketball team. Therefore: “Monster High.” The film has been described as, “Kind of like Michael Jordan’s Space Jam but much, much worse,” as well as being “completely boring.” Yet another reviewer put it this way: “It’s really tough to be entertained by anything this inane, chintzy, and uninspired.” In a time when The Room (2003) is a cult phenomenon solely for its ineptitude, Monster High is still unable to be processed even on that level.

In conversation, McBride told me he wants his paintings to be like Monster High: not scary, nor funny; not simply bad, per se, nor just good. When familiar judgments like these fail to resolve through viewing an art object, it can produce a blank indeterminacy that frustrates the audience’s expectations. McBride describes this indeterminacy as a “state of multiplicity” that he aims to achieve.

JP3Shawn McBride, A Doozie, 2017, acrylic, collage on canvas.

McBride’s state of multiplicity – of multiple, unresolvable experiences – can be seen in one of his vertical diptychs, an acrylic painted collage titled A Doozie. In its top half, a head channeling Otto Dix’s Great War invalids rests atop a toddler’s triumphal arch. Resting against this mangled death’s head is a symbol that retains the semiotic residue of both a peace sign and a Mercedes Benz logo, which contradicts the spirit of the ghastly visage it overlaps. The bottom half of the diptych, singing in a full Stuart Davis brio, works to pull its all-too referential top-half into a world of joyous abstraction, where the colors of the Pan-African flag predominate, presenting, through form and color alone, a social formation in opposition to the grim imagery culled from European imperial wars. This push and pull from abstraction to representation; deliberate art historical reference to naive imagery; horror to elation; keeps the viewer’s interpretation of the work moving, never settling into an easily received idea.

JP4Shawn McBride, Killer Condom Routine, 2017, 25″X 17″, acrylic, collage on canvas.

In Killer Condom Routine (2017), another of McBride’s diptychs on show, tubes pilfered from Fernand Léger empty out into a laughing clown’s, or pinhead’s, masked face. The motif of the mask circulates throughout the exhibition. It is a metaphor for hiding meaning – “masking the truth” – but also, it is a metaphor for the act of painting, which is always a representation of the thing, and never the thing itself. Divining actual meaning from paintings, McBride suggests, is like trying to read facial expressions under a mask.

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Shawn McBride, I Heard Myself Today, To See If I Still Hear, I Opened Up My Ears, The Only Things That Hear, 7.5′ x 5.5′, acrylic, collage on campus.

Enmeshed in an era of overdetermined and overwhelming meaning, McBride’s paintings ask if there’s a freedom to be found in an artwork that can be looked at, but not settled. If there isn’t quite freedom, perhaps there’s relief. Relief, because indeterminacy is a more faithful reflection of the lack of intention in our lives: We live in places that are an accident of birth, doing things that feel more like having things done to us, in edifices, like Open Wabi, that no longer contain the operations they were built to house. That disconnect between the intentions of the past and the desperation of the present is why the anesthetic ketamine is en vogue. K’s eerie, dissociative feeling allows one to regard oneself as, and through, a mask; as a representation of something one can embody but never be. This is what Americans are now: we are not the leader of the free world; we are a mask our past wears, anxiously, in the present, to suggest nothing has changed since we were. We aren’t Jerry Seinfeld during the dot-com boom, but, rather, an upside down, white mask pasted over that cultural memory, able to forcibly articulate our past, but unable to claim to be an authentic extension of its continuity.

This dynamic is captured in one of McBride’s titles, a corruption of a lyric in NIN’s “Hurt“:

I heard myself today. To see if I still hear.
I opened up my ears. The only things that hear.

After his opening, McBride insisted our group catch the midnight premiere of It at the South Campus Gateway Theater. Of course, It was sold out. Instead, we went to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, a bar known for two things: blue raspberry fishbowls and the unsolved disappearance, on April Fool’s Day, 2006, of an Ohio State University medical student named Brian Shaffer. Shaffer walked into the bar – he did not walk out. The indeterminacy of what happened to Shaffer – murder, suicide, voluntary disappearance – spurred a citywide fascination with the case. It allowed for any characterization of Shaffer and his motives to be posited, from Shaffer as a coward who ghosted his soon-to-be fiancée, to a folk-hero who literally escaped into a bar; from a victim of the “Smiley Face Killer” to a nervous wreck in the midst of a mental breakdown due to his mother’s recent death. Out of the Big Ten banality of the Ugly Tuna Saloona emerged a prism, which, no matter the angle one viewed it, nor the light shone upon it, only reflected the viewer.

In honor of Shaffer’s escape from life’s overdeterminations, and McBride’s evasion of meaning, I threw a blue raspberry fishbowl off of Ugly Tuna Saloona’s balcony and into the void, laughing.

James Payne
Columbus, September 2017

Artist Interview: Zachary Carlisle Davidson

Anna Buckner

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I met Zach back in grad school at IU and have continued to keep up with him and follow him via social media. His work is relevant, playful, serious, perceptive, beautiful, anti-academic and yet still fully intellectual.

After the violence in Charlottesville, I was struck by a post Zach made on Instagram in regards to his lack of surprise surrounding the event. His words, like his work are vulnerable and honest, and he has been kind enough to share more of his thoughts with us.

Here’s his post:

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AB: Can art really change anything?

ZCD: I don’t think there is a singular or definitive means for art to change anything but it can in the right place at the right time.

Let’s take the impact of memes and other quick media designed to shared impulsively for an immediate response.  How often are the terse phrasing in often esoteric one-liners more impactful in outlined bubble text over a clumsy photoshop compared to the article they lifted original image?  Why are so many reaction GIFs shared featured rely upon the pantomime of black people?  Look what Pepe has become, and can’t forget implicit messaging through emojis use either. Or, a prez who’s managed to manipulate a crafted image (which is kind of all of them).  “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, amirite?

Internally and personally, I know my thoughts bounce from clear conviction to imbued insecurity to new inquiries to other tangential whereabouts when I’m reanalyzing conceptual messages I want associated with a work or series.  When I add in concerns of technical application into this mix of thoughts, it can help me choose which media I want to utilize best together (not sorry, Greenberg) to be a bit subversive, since I think that’s my agenda.

Actually –when I really think about it– I always integrate some DIY ethos into the classroom because I do believe in explicitly telling my students that the causality of their actions will impact others, and the context will inform how it’s approached. So, yes, I’m betting on art changing some/any/every-thing.

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AB: That makes a lot of sense to me. GIFs are a part of our current vocabulary and so it is confronting to see a GIF that functions beyond its ability to reference pop culture for a few laughs. Could you talk a little more about your own relationship with GIFs?

ZCD: GIFs are byproduct of a few influence intersections woven in my life.  Obviously, my imagery relies upon cartooning aesthetics HEAVILY so it has been a means for me to emulate that inspiration while trying to construct a niche that complements my other work.  

Originally, the GIFs were all based on screen-prints, lithographs and woodcuts that I manipulated. I had attributed some romantic notion of the never-ending repetition as a looped printmaking edition. It was silly, but let me play within a finite matrix to see variability in my compositional designs. Now, they are more commonly generated from illustrations that have shapes intended for animated purposes.

Whenever I have flown over the last few years, I decided to make a game out of how many GIFs I can make during the layovers using old sketches I had scanned.  The most I’ve made was six, but that was a long trip. Most are very simplistic and some are junk but I manage to produce something that if not resolved before the trek, I at least know enough how to finish it to fulfill a role I have planned for it.

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AB: I love this idea of a GIF as a sketch. It breaks down the notion that you need a big, private studio to create Art, which seems totally in line with using GIFs in the first place. Where else do you find influence? (Either within the art world, or outside of it)

ZCD: I read many hours daily from news to fake news to graphic novels to how-to’s to rap lyrics to short fiction, mostly narrative but some prose.  I do this when I wake up and before I fall asleep usually, and I’d speculate it serves as catharsis that permits me to think about my day.  Probably that way for many people.

Sometimes I google search the name of a country I’m reading about in the news followed with the term ‘cartoon’ to see if I can watch a video if possible. If that doesn’t work, then ‘art’ comes second.  I’m totally poaching ideas I see, but I think it also instill a time for empathy because I’m ultimately going to latch onto something relatable –be it emotive or a visual impact to mimic.  I recommend everyone do this with at least a country you want to or intend to visit.

Most importantly, trying to contribute to social justice is of the utmost relevance to me because I would literally have nothing without its impact on the lives on my family, many people I love, and most of my heroes. As a guiding force, it helps purport an attitude of wisely if sincerely with the work I make.

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Check out more of Zach’s work on his website and his instagram.

Artist Interview: Brian Rego

Greg Burak

I have been an admirer of Brian Rego’s Paintings for many years. I have always been drawn to the sensitivity of his work, managing to capture both the specificity of feeling as well as the underlying formal harmonies of his subjects. It was a great pleasure to be able to ask Brian a series of questions, which he answered in a wonderfully articulate and inspiring way. I want to thank him for being so generous with his time.

BR we did this to ourselvesWe Did This to Ourselves, 2016, oil on board, 8″ x 12″

GB: Can you talk about a painting breakthrough you’ve had along the way, where something clicked and you experienced an “ah-ha!” moment?

BR: The “ah-ha!” moment. I love those moments, and I have had quite a few of them in the last 10 years. They have mostly been small, but incredibly significant. By the way, I would like to say that almost every important finding was within an unsuspecting place, or person, or set of circumstances. For example, I have four children, and they have inadvertently given more to my work than they have taken from it. This has been surprising to me. There was one moment (or a set of sequential moments) in particular, from 2010 – 2012, that changed the way I thought about reading and making paintings, and looking. I was introduced to Stanley Lewis by my colleague when I was working as an adjunct professor at USC. It was a unique situation because he received letters and paintings from Stanley, and we would talk about them, the ideas they presented. We listened to Stanley teach through recorded lectures, looked at paintings referenced through his talks. One day I was driving down a street that had rows of trees on either side, when all of a sudden I could not just see, but feel the expansion of the trees by sensing the expansion of the space between them. That was a big “ah-ha!” moment for me. It was the tipping of the first domino. Stanley introduced a different way of thinking and seeing, which really was about being. I couldn’t remain the same and expect to see something different; I had to change the way I thought about everything around me. This altered my relationship to my surroundings, and eventually the way I made paintings.
There was another time, about a year later, when shortly before entering the university where I taught, I happened to look behind me and for a moment I saw a window in a building shift in scale and tilt in axis. I saw this happen because of another form that was approaching it in space, a branch of a tree, though it had not yet reached it. The contact and all of the results of that contact, were implied. And yet I saw the affect of that contact, like two magnets moving one another by their opposing forces. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I began referring to specific instances like that under the broader term, “spatial influence.” I see weird stuff like that happen but I do not know how to paint it yet.

BR restRest2017, oil on board, 16″ x 20″

GB: The figure has been populating your landscapes in really interesting and unexpected ways. Can you talk about the role they play in the paintings?

BR: I would say the figure in my work isn’t really about the figure in a literal sense, but what the figure brings to the psychology of an image, or how it can humanize a space. I would like to talk about Morandi for a moment because I think he does this in his work. He brings the figure into his paintings through his objects. The objects in his still life paintings are humanized by the viewer, but only because the viewer first senses what Morandi sensed while he painted them. Morandi has taught me that representing humanity in painting has less to do with the form being represented and more with how it is represented, and mostly with who is representing it. For a while I tried to paint the the presence of the figure in my landscapes without the figure. But I wasn’t able to do it because I didn’t understand my connection to the forms I painted.

Brian Rego - Pink house on a hollow

GB: Do you have any influences outside of painting that inform your work?

BR: I would like to start with a generalized position and move to one that is more specific. First, I would say that everything informs my work. If I am open to what is around me, taking in all I can on multiple levels, through my senses, I can collect a rich storehouse of material. And it’s just life. I remember when my undergraduate painting professor told me one day to “paint your life, just paint your life”. It remains to this day some of the best advice I have ever received. So if I am to paint my life, then what becomes important to me is how I live it. This is where my spiritual life comes into play and is critical for my work because the closer I draw near to God the more human I become.

As a side note, I will tell you that having children brings a lot of life into living. And by that I mean chaos. But it is rich and surprising, and demands great struggle. Yet as it does, precious things are revealed about humanity, about life and death, about love. It all makes its way into the work.

BR baptismBaptism, 2016, oil on board, 7″ x 9″

GB: What does a typical day painting in (or out of) your studio look like?

BR: When I paint outdoors I find everything happening at once, so I respond to what I see with a sense of urgency and I try not to think too much about it. I look for larger spatial constructs as a way to enter the painting. I do not allow myself to know how to paint something beforehand, but I learn to do it in the moment as I paint it. After working on location, I bring the painting into the studio to see if it has anything to offer. I normally paint in a series of spurts throughout the week. These sessions last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. I normally have 8 to 15 paintings up and around me in the studio, the others are put away for another time. Sometimes a painting can be resolved in a couple weeks, most times it takes months or years. I find that the resolution of an image comes when it comes and I cannot rush the process. This is very different from the 8 to 10 hour work days I used to put into painting in grad school. However, I find that this suits me. I tend to be analytical and slow in my thinking, so I need time and distance from the moves I make in the paintings. This way when I paint, I just paint; I don’t think. I pay attention to the demands of the image and try to advance it until I do not know what to do. When I see something that could happen in the painting but hasn’t yet, I will wait and spend time learning how to see it in my mind. Once I see it I can paint it.

GB: What is your primary concern when beginning a painting?

BR: It is important to me that I am present and open to the subject. If I am too much in my head, or have concerns about other responsibilities and pressures in my life, even about painting, I can’t paint. So I work at looking. I am not trying to discover anything specific about the subject, but to become immersed by the magnitude of what is around me. I find that the first hour of painting is crude because while it provides me the chance to establish an awareness of the subject, I have no idea how to develop the form of the image.

BR man stealing fruitMan Stealing Fruit, 2016, oil on board, 18″ x 13″

GB: Do you have any strategies for opening up a painting that gets stuck?

BR: I am not sure if the painting ever gets stuck, but I certainly do. The painting is in the process of getting resolved, I am figuring out how to do it. When I am stuck in a painting it is most likely for two reasons: 1. I have arrived at a premature solution, or 2. I am in the midst of providing a solution I do not yet understand. In the former, I will destroy what I hold most precious about the painting to find all of a sudden I have a lot more freedom to work. I lose something of value, but it is insignificant if it means that the whole painting can be gained. There are no guarantees. In the latter, I will wait it out and not force a solution. I like to work on multiple paintings simultaneously, and at some point if I become more perceptive I may see a solution when the painting reveals itself. I enjoy the struggle of this process but the painting leaves me partially satisfied. The solutions I arrive at are never quite the solutions I want.

GB: Can you talk about the importance of the surface of your paintings, and how paint application comes into play?

BR: I relate to space more physically than illusionistically. I can sense the way form moves through space and how space itself, as a transparent volume or an invisible solid, moves. The density of the paint application is a sensual response to that movement. I once heard someone say that a painting is an accumulation of moments, and I relate to it that way. So the physicality of the painting’s surface ends up being an accumulated form that represents the body of the image.

BR bedBed2016, oil on board, 14″ x 17″

GB: What is your most indispensable artist monograph?

BR: It is impossible to choose just one, but I would say that the Catalogue from the Morandi Museum is one of my top choices. What Morandi does with his still life objects Velazquez does with his heads. They both cultivated a profound level of empathy for the forms they painted.

BR starter houseStarter Home, 2015-2016, oil on board, 8″ x 10″

GB: Are there any materials or tools you can’t live without?

BR: I have this leather visor that I use when painting. It belonged to my father, someone who always supported me.

GB: What do you have coming up in the future? Any shows, events, or lectures?

BR: Some upcoming events:
July 29th – August 5th: Art New England Landscape Painting Class at Bennington College, Bennington, VT.
October 6th – Artist Lecture at the Beverly Street Studio School, Staunton, VA.
October 6th – 8th: Painting Workshop at the Beverly Street Studio School in Staunton, VA.
I am also planning for a show at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY from Oct. 14 – Nov. 5, this year. I am very excited about that.

BR cut throughCut Through, 2017, oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″

CTRL + V: Bathers

the ocean
can calm itself
so can you.
we
are both
salt water
mixed
with
air.

&nbsp

-meditation

 

(Nayriah Waheed)

 

Dana Schutz, Reclining Nude, 2002, oil on canvas, 48 x 59.8 in

 

David Hockney, Gregory in the pool, 1978, colored pressed paper pulp, 32″ x 50″

 

Sul-Jee Scully, Cheez Hand, 2016, acrylic, flashe, tape, and painted paper on linen over panel, 36″ x 48″
 

David Park, Bathers, 1954, oil on canvas

 

Milton Avery, Loungers on Pink Beach, 1944, oil on canvas, 30 x 22 cm

 

Sueko Kimura, Bathers, 1954, oil on canvas

 

Benjamin Lowery, Operation2017, Oil on canvas, 42 x 50″