Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Als Ick Kan, 2011, oil on linen, 48 x 36 inches
Release, 2011, oil on linen, 16 x 12 inches
Thought from Afar, 2011, oil on linen, 20 x 16 inches

One, 2011, oil and spray paint on canvas, 20 x 16 inches 

Say the Other, 2011, oil on canvas, 68 x 52 inches

Doves Pigeons, 2011, oil on linen, 48 x 36 inches

Studio views

PB:  How are things going in the studio and is there anything new to you out there in our culture that you've come across that's working its way into your work?

JS:  Things are going well in the studio. I recently finished a bunch of new paintings that are headed to Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston. Things that are providing starting points for the latest work include 3D images, commercial printing techniques, children’s drawings, magazine advertisements, quilts, excised images & documents, and basic shapes (triangle, square, rectangle). It’s a collection that comes from culture and what we produce to mark our environment and try and communicate with others.

PB:  I remember a couple of years ago when we were talking, you brought up the phrase, "image making by any means necessary," could you elaborate on that?

JS:  As I set to work, I can say, “Do whatever it takes to make the work”. There is a liberty implicit in that, however the choices can also be overwhelming, and have consequences. The spirit of that statement resides in being aware of limitations, using those limitations to react.  Sometimes the result is efficient, sometimes it is elegant, sometimes it is introspective, and sometimes it is brutal.

PB:  You've been mentioned in a few articles lately as a "provisional painter" and in other similar terms. What's your take on that?

JS:  I think it’s an interesting label. Contingency is an element in the painting process and also definitely in the air when the stock market can swing wildly, or the news cycle can jump from one concern to another at break-neck speed. The paintings are purposefully open in the way that they are constructed.  Even when a painting is finished, not all is locked into place. Things are shifting.

Whether a “provisional painter” or a “new casualist”, when I go into the studio I try not to think about that, I do not want that to affect the work. In the studio it is about what the painting needs and wants. It is wonderful that people are aware of some commonalities among several artists work; that is a place for the discussion to start.

PB:  So in the studio, you're keeping yourself open to what's going on there, pushing forward and giving each painting what it needs. When you speak of constructing a painting that's purposely open in the way it's constructed, does that mean that you're leaving room for contingency to flourish?

JS:  When I start a painting, there is often a structure, system, or image that I am reacting to. The paintings are not planned out; in effect I am constantly introducing contingencies to each work. Limits and unexpected occurrences are barriers to be embraced, challenged, and creatively addressed. If I look at the logic that resides in a particular painting or work of art, there is what is known and unknown. It is that play between the two that creates a poetic challenge that we have to wrestle with, just like the known and unknown of life.

PB:  How do things change for you when making large works vs. smaller works?

JS:  I generally work on several paintings at one time. Three or four large ones and ten to fifteen smaller may develop in the studio at the same time. I think about the difference in scale and how we relate to them with our bodies. The 8’ x 6’ painting envelopes the viewer. The 20” x 16” painting draws you in to a more intimate space. A 48” x 36” canvas is a difficult scale, it cannot quite envelope you, nor is it that same intimate space that a smaller canvas creates. Recently, I have been really trying to figure out this size around 48” x 36”. It sounds silly but it is a complicated size, also exciting because of the challenge of figuring out a painting that is neither small nor large.

PB:  Are there any other artists you're excited about or draw inspiration from?

JS:  Morandi’s work is so wonderful. It seems so simple and limited, yet he scrapes out this amazing territory, with a handful of vessels and bottles, using some brushes, paint, and canvas. The paintings are unassuming but completely transfix the viewer. I keep lots of books and images around me in the studio. They keep me company and challenge me. Ellsworth Kelly’s “Plant I” (1949) is such a hauntingly elegant painting, fourteen inches high, black and white and all that presence.

This summer I had a chance to meet Nicole Cherubini and Mike Andrews at Ox-Bow in Michigan. They both have a way of using materials and tradition and get so much out of it. Nicole works in ceramics primarily. Mike uses fiber/yarn to make tapestries. Both make work that I want to spend a lot of time looking at and thinking about. They start with the familiar and take me into new territory.

PB:  I'm familiar with Cherubini's work and I count myself in as a fan, and thanks for shedding light on Andrew’s as well—JoshFaught is another great weaver I've been impressed with. How has a cross-disciplined perspective of a painter looking at ceramics and tapestry enriched your own practice of painting and taken you to that new territory you've mentioned? Also, how do other contemporary painters figure into things for you—the German painters and, just throwing a name out there, how about Twombly and his contribution?

JS:  I think Mike Andrews and Josh Faught are both making interesting work that comes out of fibers tradition and certainly deal with painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation. I like how Nicole Cherubini and Mike Andrews have this wonderful sense of history as it relates to their work. They know the traditions from which their work comes out of, and they are pulling from painting’s discourse and further afield to enrich their work. It is so important as artists to understand our creative heritage, to in fact own it. That said, by looking outside of art or discipline and importing new or unexpected ideas is how one maps new territory, invents new ways of working.

If we start talking German Artists, it is hard to know where to begin. Richter, Polke, Oehlen, Kippenberger, Blinky Palermo, and Joseph Beuys are all amazing and influential for me. Then you have artists like Eberhard Havekost and several other younger German Artists. There has been a lot of amazing painting from Germany. Tomma Abts. Anselm Reyle. So many of them have an amazing rigor to their work, while at the same time having incredible breadth.

Cy Twombly is really amazing. The constant presence of handwriting in his work is brilliant. His drawing, mark-making, helped me understand and think about the larger types of “hand-writing” in the world around us. How we mark, design, alter our environment and the things we place in it. Each painting is like a monumental whisper. He uses this epic subject matter that is scrawled on his walls (paintings). Seeing the Twombly room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is an overwhelming experience.

PB:  What's on your reading/listening list lately? 

JS:  Mira Schor’s Decade of Negative Thinking
Mira Schor’s blog http://ayearofpositivethinking.com/
Marilynne Robinson’s Absence of Mind
I have been reading W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn and I just started reading Harold Bloom’s The Anatomy of Influence
What is playing in the studio...The National, The Cold War Kids, The XX, Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines, and Jonny Greenwood.

Also watching the TV series Friday Night Lights, but not while I’m painting.

To see more:  jeredsprecher.com

On view at Steven Zevitas Gallery in Boston, Sept 8th--Oct 15th, 2011:
Jered Sprecher | Als Ick Kan

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