What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I feel that I hold one foot firmly in the realm of self-taught art as well as formal training. This is because my art was born from intense psychedelic self realization, and continued as such for years before I entered into academia. Even my undergrad experience, in all honesty, was not influential but more or less controversial to my spirit, and so it wasn’t until I attended the Academy of Art University for the MFA in Painting that I absorbed practical considerations, or in effect, learned something institutionally.
Art education and its use is largely dependent upon the quality of the education. My undergrad experience was mostly useless, and often degrading, to the very impetus of my art. Many of the art faculty at Wichita State University were, in practice, a propagandist cult for canons of post postmodernism, and contemporary art of globalization-the conceptual art philosophies, if one can call them that, of artists like Andy Warhol, Marco Evaristti, Damien Hirst, Keith Boadwee, and others. In truth I found these philosophies and the art itself tasteless, lifeless; often an intellectual scam insulting to my intelligence, and incapable of substantiating its own justifications to any serious degree. Yet, it wasn’t merely the obsession the faculty had with these canons, but rather the bull-headed insistence that there was no other credible “art”, which ruined the education for me. By the end of it I seriously considered burning my Bachelor’s degree in front of the art building.
I do not believe in a specific limitation to what “art” is. Nor do I believe in being bullied or degraded personally for doing what I love, which is, I fear, a too common provincial approach for some educators to their students. Concrete examples of my experience included being told that to use oil paint at all, no matter what I produced, inherently meant I could only ever be a “Sunday Hobbyist.” Or the suggestion that I wouldn’t want to make art for “Those kinds of people,” implied, of course, that the love, enthusiasm, passion, inspiration, intelligence, work, and life force I used to make my paintings could only feed a kind of underclass society of unwashed subhumans.
On the other hand, my Master’s program at the Academy of Art University, satisfied the validation of my inherent worth, and expanded upon that potential. Rather than proselytizing, the Academy sought to help me develop new or better tools for my artistic communication. In some ways the education was really more scientific, formulaic; woven from a well honed and measurable practice, and yet it was not obstructive, but instructive.
My undergrad followed the practice of ignoring mastery of media in favor of crafting a conceptual statement. Skill and craft were demeaned in favor of abstract political justification. Whereas at AAU, craft and articulation were both given due consideration and development.
I do believe there exist many self-taught artists who would do roundly better work given a proper formal art education. I see common issues in quality from even successful well known artists; failed attempts at rendering an object, lack of understanding of use of color, atmospheric perspective, proportionality, etc. There of course are times that artists intend to exaggerate, diminish, or distort a quality of some representation. However, there are the innumerable examples where artists try to fake intentionality to hide their weaknesses.
This is a particular problem in many visionary art movements when artists attempt to integrate the visionary grids and geometric formulas of the canon, or more rarely the authentic vision, with realistic depictions of bodies, faces, and so forth. The result is a visual imbalance between the accuracy of the psychedelic elements and their objective counterparts. This tends to result in a heavy reliance on the abstract components to the work, much akin to a top-heavy weightlifter with toothpick legs.
Similarly among pure academics guided completely by the frames of well established formula, unintended lifelessness can occur. Compositions may be perfect, but appear contrived. People or objects may be rendered and polished, but yield as much felt substance as a mannequin. The uncanny valley that develops presents a challenge to extremes of self-taught and educated both.
What fascinates you the most about (pop) surrealism and contemporary art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
The surrealisms interest me because they are a natural result of the exploration of consciousness and the psychological domain as it relates to objective reality. I enjoy work that is progeny for some kind of novel exploration by the artist, which tells me about the experience of that person from their unique vantage.
When you see a work by H.R. Giger, Salvador Dali, Gerald Brom, Michael Hussar, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Jeremy Geddes, and others, you immediately FEEL a kind of analogue imprint of their unique capacity. They have managed to archive into physical media an accurate record of their personal nature. In doing so we get to access these otherwise hidden and proprietary dimensions.
My own work invokes impressions which are important or substantial to my experience as a living being, and which inform or express the unfolding cosmology before me. It is a record of reflection as well as the imprint of direct moments. I think philosophically I relate very much to some of the ideas and methods of Roberto Matta’s psychological morphisms, or Inscapes.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
The hardest thing about the art world is that it has been usurped in the same fashion that money and politics have; by a vapid feudal cabal of the astronomically wealthy. Values have been deranged for many works. Meanwhile, the projected and insular elitism of it all is emulated like a perverse steppe pyramid down to the lowest venues of serfdom, squelching impressionable youth to become dilettantes for soulless idols.
The artistic life can be lonely I suppose, but that also is its benefit. To find real silent spaces from which to work can be an asset to the creative process. Sometimes there is too much of a social pressure in the art world. To be seen is as important as the work itself.
My art is my counter-action to it all. I take my art making seriously and I invest my life into it. I expect my audience to form organically, by natural attraction and saturation. I make my art and myself into the vision I would like to see. When someone else also finds pleasure from the fruits of my taste, even better! I also believe my patrons deserve substance over hype, and strive to cultivate works which live up to that.
Be sure to check into the other interviews of “OH! So Surreal”, featuring talented and diverse artists from around the world. You can view them by clicking HERE! Also a great THANK YOU to Linda Bergerova for her appreciation of my work and for a splendid interview process.