Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Peter Roux answers:

I saw Peter Roux's work in June at the Lyons Wier Gallery, in NY. I was struck by the painterly use of both abstraction and representational imagery and his use of the edge to create depth, compression and expansiveness in the work.

Suspension (east sky) II   2015   oil, charcoal on panel   42x42"

Suspension (farm field) I   2016   oil on canvas with charcoal 30x40"

Suspension (take 6)  2017   oil, charcoal on panel   36"x48"

The Way Light Falls (on things you cherish) no.1   2012   oil, charcoal on paper   30x12"    


Inspiration is such an elusive thing to define for me. I'm energized to make work based on many sources and experiences, most of which don't connect to each other whatsoever or fall into linked categories.
The natural world certainly inspires me- whether it be in sky, ground, or detail. I tend to think less in terms of a direct response to a place- that I want to paint that view- and more in the ways and means of the experience. I find myself paying attention to how I respond and the experience of seeing, and that seems to be what drives my work. Translating this into visual information in a piece crosses over representational and abstract platforms for me...which I like. 

I'm drawn a bit to contradiction as well, and rebellion. Those inspire me in odd ways. I don't think you see it directly in my work, but it affects me.

Edges inspire me too. If art is all about relationships (forms against space, points in time pressed together, color and value related to create new meaning) then the meat of it for me is in the edges of things, where they meet/blend/relate. I like them hard, soft, elusive, dramatic, quietly shifting, whatever. I can look at a glass on a countertop and get lost in the parts where the glass meets the space surrounding speak nothing of the universe of values and form working within the glass surface. It's endless for me. It's not just about form's where content lies. It always speaks about much more than the subject itself. 

And, of course, seeing good work made by others just makes my brain and heart buzz. I see things, have an experience with them, become slightly changed by the encounter, and feel a direct need to make new work. As a painter I tend to be most drawn to work in mediums that aren't paint. I know paint, and sometimes knowing the structures used can be slightly distracting when looking at artwork. So, I get pulled to the alchemy of things made by processes I don't normally use. And, in a weird organic response, it makes me want to paint.

Suspension (take 6)   2017   oil, charcoal on panel   36x48"

What is your personal history? Creatives in your ancestry that might have influenced you?

I've been drawing and painting since I was very young, and have always wanted to be an artist of some kind save for two or three childhood detours (astronaut, sheriff, rock star). Art school was always the goal, and it ultimately just came down to what kind of art I wanted to make, and how.

My mother in particular was instrumental in supporting me in that drive. She was a creative soul who played the piano beautifully and, later in life, had a short but successful career as a weaver. Beyond that, there's very little in my family background that I draw upon for influence. Quite the opposite, in fact: most of it is rooted in blue collar work histories. Art was appreciated and valued by a few, but the opportunities to even know it existed in life were almost non-existent for them. It's almost like I was born with a virus or something.

The Way Light Falls (on things you cherish) no.1   2012   oil, charcoal on paper   30x12"    

 Suspension (Iceland) IV   2015   oil on connected panels   60x36"

Name 5 favorite artists that turn you on..and why

Five artists who turn me on....that's a tough one. Different artists circle in and out of the category at different times. But if I had to list a few:

Vermeer: he's so often referred to as a painter's painter, and for good reason. He created intimate worlds of quiet light, where narrative is in every object but it's never shouted. Time stops in his images, and it stops for me when I look at them. 

Gerhard Richter: you just can't pin this artist down, and I like that. His work always explores, in some fashion, what art is. Richter moves from pure abstraction to photo realism just by jumping when he's ready without apology, yet they connect. Then, he fills in the spaces between the two with yet more works. Painting, sculpture, glass, installation, etc. Even the works I dislike, I like. Weird.

Gerhard Richter

Brian Eno: I'm not very interested in anything Eno records with lyrics. Rather, I like his ambient compositions, the sound installations that experiment with hearing within defines spaces, and above all his writings about art. Eno has talked about no longer seeing artworks as objects but rather as triggers for experience. That pretty much makes sense to me. And, he works in a time-derivative medium, for which I'm just slightly envious.

Rickie Lee Jones: If you want to feel what it's like to have your soul simultaneously uplifted and stepped on, listen to this artist. She's a raw nerve.

Mark Rothko: his works are like visual sermons. Sometimes exhausting to deal with in person, but so unlike anything else.

Jenny Saville: I have to include Saville in this list, although I think she suffered from immediate fame without the chance to explore in anonymity. But, she's seemed to have weathered it pretty well. I mean, the chaos in her paint is just seductive to a painter's eye. I get a bit disinterested at times in her content, but her approach and form keep me coming back for more.

I'm going beyond five...

Agnes Martin: for me her works are like visual prayer. And I never pray, so that's saying something.

Chuck Close

Sally Mann

Sally Mann, Chuck Close (not exactly sure why), Willem DeKooning, Brice Marden, Christopher Wool, Richard Serra, Cecily Brown (at times), Wim Wenders, Stan Brackhage, Ridley Scott because he has made the future look gritty but probable and loves sun spots in his films (Blade Runner is amazing to look at), Jane Campion, e.e. cummings (gotta put it it lower case with that guy), any musician who makes music that transcends the instruments they play.

Mostly, though, I get turned on by the work of people I know or know of, who are making really great art but maybe aren't getting the press and exposure the super art stars of the world get. These are people who are making it happen somehow. I'll throw some names out in case people want to take a look: Amy Tavern, Liz Tran, Sean Thomas, Karen Philippi, Amy Spassov, Erik Hall, Stephanie Dalton, Laura Fayer, Jennifer J.L. Jones, James Austin Murray, Mark Zimmerman, Milisa Galazzi, Bernd Haussman. So many more as well. Google 'em.


Studio shot

What do you see outside your studio window (picture) and inside your studio at the moment?

Lots of trees outside my window. I live in the woods...sort of. Inside the studio it's curated chaos I guess. Multiple pieces going at once, shelves of disorganized supplies, oily painted rags. And occasionally a three-legged dog.

What do you listen to in the studio?

When I'm actively painting, I tend to put on music that won't distract me but instead filter into my head from the side somehow. Everything from Bach to hardcore punk, so it varies based on my mood. Lots of blues, new and old. When I'm stretching canvas or packing paintings or doing things other than painting, I tend to listen to NPR or interviews with interesting people, or just the news.

What’s on your bookshelf or podcast list? picture or list

I'll list some.
I really like the Savvy Painter podcasts a lot. In terms of books, lots of history books (especially 20th century stuff), and I'm a sucker for big monographs and expensive art books and catalogs. If I go see gallery shows and love the work but can't afford to buy- which is most of the time- I'll get a catalog if it's available. So, lots of those. They remind me of the work I saw, and its a way to bring it home and live with it. 

Oh, and Sophie's Choice because it has one of the best last lines of any novel.

What thoughts do you have to turn off in your head when you are in the studio?

Any thoughts about people. If I'm worried about someone, or in conflict, or just thinking about someone a lot it tends to be a barrier to working. I can eventually get beyond it and shut it out, but it can take awhile. I'm not sure how I feel about this, either.

I have doubting thoughts about the work I'm doing at times, like any artist. It's part of the process. It's not about trying to eliminate these thoughts but rather learning to manage them, because they're inevitable if you're trying to do something that matters to you. I've tried to figure out ways to manage them as best as I can, including trusting the idea that they'll go away. But they can get to me sometimes.

Best advice you have gotten about making/being an artist?

The best advice has generally been about just doing work. Pull energy out of thinking about being an artist and what it looks or feels like to be one, and just make make some art. Chuck Close is famous for staying that inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just get up in the morning and work. That's a bit heavy-handed, but I get it. I think you become an artist by making art. What an artist looks like is irrelevant. If you're making art, then the answer to what an artist looks and feels like is in the mirror. Let everyone else sort it out.

That, and trust yourself. This is the toughest one, as you're sometimes doing it without any external reinforcement. But another artist once told me that if you create something that matters to you, it's inevitable that it will also matter to someone else, somewhere...and you need to trust that. I think this is a logical extension to the idea that the act of creating means you're putting something (even small) into the world that didn't exist before. So, you alter the world just a little. Just trust that this occurs and that in some way it's important.

Also, that beauty isn't a bad word. This idea in contemporary art that beauty is too simple and trite as content is ridiculous to me. All that happens when artists make work that is intentionally ugly or anti-beauty in order to push things is that they're ultimately redefining beauty. It still hits us in the same place. We need more beauty in the world, whatever it looks like. Especially now.

Some see being an artist as self-indulgent. By that measure simply living in the world is self-indulgent. Creating work places me in the world somehow, and calms me down. That's not self-indulgence, it's survival. And, hopefully, the process leaves something in its wake that's bigger than any one individual. 


Debra Claffey said...

Good interview. I enjoyed both the questions and the answers. Thanks!

lisa said...


annell said...

Enjoyed your post.

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