lunedì 12 dicembre 2011

Where The Wind Blows: interview with Aron Wiesenfeld

Aron Wiesenfeld was born in 1972 in Washington, D.C.
He began drawing very early encouraged by his family till one of his friends introduced him to comics in fifth grade.
Since he was a child he has loved to build things and he still admits the depth of its interest in the process of creation: "I think my work process now is like building - the joy of it is in seeing it grow and what it will become" (Erratic Phenomena)

"The Well", oil on canvas, 71 x 93 inches, 2011

Hi Aron, imagine you could close your eyes and go back to a specific moment of your childhood, what it would be?

One day on the school yard when I was about 7, the wind was blowing so hard that I could literally fall forward into it, and the wind was holding me up. It was a magical physics-defying moment.

"Ruth", oil on canvas, 23 x 24 inches,  2008

You've been a comic book artist for a long time but then something you could not overcome happen with your last project "Deathblow and Wolverine". How did it come that you change direction from comic book artist to painter?

I had painted with oil and acrylics when I was a teenager. When I went into drawing comics when I was 20 I stopped painting because it was all pencil and paper work. After about 5 years I quit comics, and went to art school where I quickly rediscovered my initial love of painting. It was a circular road back to painting.

"The Lesson", charcoal on paper, 33 x 50 inches, 2007

"Flowerbed", oil on canvas, 27 x 35 inches, 2009

Your paintings and drawings are narratively powerful, you look at them and you see a storytelling. Who are the people that inspire you?

My complete list might go on for a thousands names. The artist that I keep going back to more than any are Caspar David Friedrich, Bruegel, Goya, Titian, Puvis de Chavannes, August Sander and Balthus.

The idea that I was a "narrative" painter was something that I resisted.
My thinking was that if I was telling stories, and painting in a traditional way, then I was doing illustration, not art. But many of the great artists from history might be called "illustrators" today, so I've decided to embrace it. Those kind of labels are useless anyway. I think a better way to categorize art is whether it is authentic or not.

"The Crown", oil on canvas, 23 x 19 inches, 2011

Are you used to plan step by step your work or are you more for the improvisation?

It's both. The sketch with is usually very rough. I proceed with a painting in a step by step manner, layering colors in a methodical way, based on some of the techniques of the old masters. I refine my thinking about what the painting is while it progresses, so my thoughts about it come into focus as the painting develops. I think the concept and the execution are inseparable.

"Chris McCandless", oil on canvas, 48 x 62 inches, 2003

Nature has a prominent relevance in your work but characters too. Do you think first about the character or the landscape while you're painting?

It depends on where the initial idea came from, each painting's origin is different. I get ideas from various places: photos, books, novels, things I see outside, etc.

There has to be a combination of things. Often I will have an image of something rattling around in my head, but it's not an "idea", just a feeling that there is potential. Then I will come across a second element, and the combination of the two make some kind of magic happen, and then it's an idea.

"Flood", oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches, 2009

Your drawings are incredibly full of minute details and shadows. How charcoal can make you achieve this impressive results?

The charcoal drawings are very labor intensive, they often take more than the paintings. I start out with big, loose shapes, and refine them over weeks of work. I use big sheets of textured paper, which is good for holding the charcoal in place but I have to really fight with the paper to make the charcoal do what I want it to. The final stage is days of filling in small light spots with a charcoal pencil, and taking out small dark spots with a sharpened eraser. It's the only way to make smooth transitions with the kind of paper I use. That part is a pain, but the end result is a woven texture that I really like.

"Runoff", charcoal on paper, 16.5 x 14 inches, 2011

"Leigh", charcoal on paper, 15.5 x 23.5 inches, 2007

How many hours per day you spend painting?

About eight, with one or two days off a week.

"Early", oil on canvas, 12 x 10 inches, 2008

There are many recurrent elements in your work, such as tunnels, bridges, black spaces and rocks. Where do this symbolism comes from?

They showed up on their own, like stray cats. I base my paintings on my own sense that something feels important, so when it comes to symbolism, I can't say 'this means this' and 'that means that'.

When there are repeated elements in multiple paintings, it's like a recurring dream. Sometimes a tunnel is just a tunnel, but sometimes it feels like I'm channeling something, I have a sense of what it's about, but never completely. I think symbols are always like that, their meaning is very subjective.

The conscious part of the brain is not capable of making art.
Artists must devise ways of bypassing it to let deeper areas speak. For me the act of painting, the laborious trial and error, is a way of doing that.

"The Wedding Party", oil on canvas, 70 x 95 inches, 2011

You've been recently exhibited at Arcadia Gallery in New York.
What was the main subject of this solo show?

It was about bringing light into darkness. The light can reveal difficult things that have been hidden away, and free them or heal them. A flame can also represent the continuation of life in a lifeless place, and the promise that it will one day be revived.
The dormant phase of any life cycle is the most creative part, but it happens in secret, hidden under the snow and in the dark.

"Guest", oil on canvas, 15 x 18.5 inches, 2011

"Snowbed", oil on canvas, 27 x 33 inches, 2011

We're really proud of having you as one of the artists that joined THIS IS SO CONTEMPORARY. As your opinion means a lot to us, we'd like to ask you what you think about it and why you enjoy to be a part of that.

Thanks for inviting me!
I like that there's so much diversity of styles and mediums, it has helped me become aware that there's a lot of really good art being made right now. I know that you and Pedro put a lot of time and energy into THIS IS SO CONTEMPORARY, and it shows.
It's a very vital project.

Aron Wiesenfeld's Official Website


"The Night", oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches, 2011

A video made by Shivabel that celebrates the art of Aron Wiesenfeld
Music by Hannah Fury, 'Of Longing and Otherness'

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