Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Artist Interview: Michael Vickers

What is your name? Michael Vickers

Do you have a formal art education or are you a self-taught artist? I have an Honours Degree in Visual Arts and Media Communication and am going to be starting a Masters in Contemporary Art History with the University of Toronto this fall. I’d say I’ve learnt a lot from outside the classroom too though; essays on Roland Barthes stops becoming applicable after a certain point. I’d drop in at the Art Student’s League in New York as well sometimes. MFA when things are lined up properly.

What is the style of your pieces?  You tell me. (Linear Wordism?) Aesthetic totality, billowing spaces of colour deconstructing the rhetoric of painting and focusing on the relationship between immediacy and patience. Doesn’t that sound good? I’ll stick with that. Enlarged gesture and abstraction. I just read a great article in Art in America from a few years back that discusses provisional painting. I could relate to some of it, though some seemed outright lazy.

I’m refraining from using text for anything other than titles for the next little while because I’m tiring of my own voice. You know, I was spending too long trying to come up with witty word plays. The cameras are just gathering dust at the moment until I start a series of photographs of beds that keeps getting put on hold. I need all sorts of clearances I can’t get.

What is the medium in which you work?  Enamel paint, different kinds of latex and house paint, spray paint, some acrylics and resins. Some work with inkjet prints. On the photography front, I shoot Polaroid 600 and Spectra series.

What started you on your path as an artist? I don’t really like that question. It’s just something I have always done but worked harder at over the years. What started you on your path to interviewing? I wanted to spotlight artists.  All artists.  There is so much exclusion in the art world, I wanted to make a place where every artist was welcome.

What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life? Focus and clarity, confusion and disarray. Wait- that sounds like I am trying too hard. Really though, its given me a lot of certainty about what I care about in life but also made things a little messy. Being an accountant in a cubicle has a strange appeal sometimes. 

What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in?  A lot of sculptural work, things with neon that I just can’t make happen right now budget wise.

Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like? Like any gallery opening, many are there to look at people more than the art and pound back a few free glasses of wine. I thoroughly recommend them as a pre-drink. Come back in the middle of the following day if you’re there for the art.

Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in? Well it’d be a shame to get paint on a nice suit, haha.

What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist? I don’t want my kids to have to wait for Christmas presents because my work’s not selling well that year. Juggling different aspirations and still continuing to make the best work I can. Working in the museum and gallery world has been great but it can also turn you a bit cynical. I’d say I’m just more aware of the reality of the situation. Shake hands. Shake lots of hands. It’s like being in a band and working at a record label, you just understand the game a bit better.

What is your favorite sandwich of all time? Anything other than the dry salami sandwich I just had. Never again.

Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they? I suppose a willingness to get further into abstraction. I travelled a lot last year and I think since then I’m not getting as caught up on specific outcomes. More room to think and work in a large studio space as well, things are expanding.

Who is your favorite artist alive or dead? It looked like Ai WeiWei had crossed from one group to the other for a while there. Robert Frank.  Christopher Wool. Andy. Katharina Grosse. Some Pablo.  Albert Oehlen. Conor Oberst. Hemmingway. Ujin Lee. Mark Bradford. Wil Murray. Andrew Morrow. Richter. Emin. Dylan. Cash. Felix Gonzalez-Torres. YBAs. Some Jack the dripper. Jacob Kassay. Michael Vickers.

What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person? Guernica at Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid floored me for a few hours. I really think of well…Jerusalem as an entire city…the weight of it all.

Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work:  No animals. The old ones are cheering me on from animal heaven though.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: I have work in a group shows at Toronto Image Works Gallery in Toronto until July 18th and AIR Gallery in Brooklyn until July 16th.  There’ll be an open studio at the end of the summer and a few other things in the works. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, it’s very much appreciated.

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