Artist Q&A with Matthias van Arkel

Matthias van Arkel has become known for his unique expression of merging painting and sculpture in his works made of silicone. Over the past few decades van Arkel has consequently investigated painterly ideas, his practice has emerged out of a conceptual approach. In his three-dimensional works meaning is achieved through density, sensuality and energy. There is a performative dimension involved in the creation process, as the artist balances intuition versus control through the special technique that he has developed. The sculptural shapes move like enlarged brush strokes forming abstract landscapes. Van Arkel challenges our perception of what defines a painting and invites us to see it from a new perspective.

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

That’s a difficult question. Probably Edvard Munch. I’m so interested in everything about him as an artist and a person–how he found ideas for his paintings. His graphic prints, especially, have a very strong impact on me. 

“Gobelin (F.A.S)”, silicone rubber, 106 x 137 in | 270 x 348 cm, 2012. Photo credit: Erik Lefvander.

How did you become a professional artist?

It all started because it was natural in my family: my father was an artist. But the one who took me further with the thought of being an artist was my 9th-grade art teacher, who inspired me in all ways and stood as a model for me after school hours. She also gave me pep talks about my ability to be an artist, that I had the talent for it, and she told me to apply to art school–my dad didn’t do that. He thought it was a difficult life to be an artist; he wanted me to choose something else. But this teacher encouraged me at that young age to go for it. … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Lin Shih Pao

Lin Shih Pao is a New York contemporary artist born in Pingtung County, Taiwan. A child from the rural countryside of Taiwan, he has been creating with his hands since he was young. And his hand-making skill has led to this extraordinary life as a legendary artist in a social movement. Taiwan’s Times Press compiled his story into two books:” A Penny Story” and “The Legend Continues.” Taiwan’s public television also produced an episode for him: An Artist’s Story.

You may be as curious as I am, how his work resulted in a thousand-person social movement? How he demonstrates love in interpersonal relationships has brought tears to the eyes of many, both participants in his creation and viewers. And his volunteers rally to him with exuberance and passion. Let us hear his views on art creation from the following interview.

“Love Ring 1”, PVC, gold foil, 13 x 13 x 10 in | 33 x 33 x 25 cm, 2020

Who are your most admired artists?

I like Van Gogh’s wild, enthusiastic, and reckless personality. I think that’s the spirit that an artist should have, regardless of the consequences to make art, live in the moment, and do whatever you want to do at the moment for the art’s sake. I have visited the painting site of Van Gogh in the south of France, and I can feel the momentum. In addition, I also like Picasso’s willful little urchin personality, but Picasso is very good at doing art business. Unlike Van Gogh, Picasso’s life is the sum of reason and sensibility. As for American artists, I like Jackson Pollock. His action painting in Abstract Expressionism has an invisible coincidence with my painting creation. I often use a similar technique as he does to flick … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Engels the Artist

Engels the Artist is a painter who subverts the materials of a painting. Staples march across the picture plane. Wooden stretchers peek through raw canvas. Canvas is punctured, torn or shredded. The strict economy of line and texture, the use of everyday objects, and makeshift elegance recalls his grandmother’s home in Haiti, which against all odds had splendor.

In 2019, Engels the Artist had a solo show at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase New York. He has shown extensively in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. The National Museum of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Skoto Gallery, New York; FiveMyles Gallery, New York; Zane Bennett Gallery, Santa Fe; and others have exhibited his work. 

A monograph on Engels the Artist was published by Neuberger Museum of Art in 2019, and his work has been written about in Hyperallergic, the New York Post, and the New York Daily News

Engels the Artist works in Brooklyn, New York.

“Cotton Pearl”, oil on canvas, 60 x 40 x 8 in | 152 x 102 x 20 cm, 2017

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

I like so many artists from so many different periods. The impressionists and the artists of the Dada movement speak to me directly. The tenderness of Cezanne. Bob Thompson’s play on the classical and the raw. One of my favorite artists is Antoni Tàpies. His work is tactile. His used materials like string and marble dust. He grew up during the Spanish Civil War. He looked at destruction and made something sacred, tranquil. His work makes me feel like I am on a journey. It is transformative. 

How did you become a professional artist?

I did not get into art. Art got into me. I knew I was an artist when … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Lawrence Charles Miller

The human figure is the given in Lawrence Charles Miller’s visual equations. He creates pictures that imply their own fiction, making pictures within and about pictures. He is known for his sense of humor, which is often evident in his art. He has exhibited extensively across the United States, including exhibitions in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, as well as exhibition abroad in Wales, Tijuana, and San Paulo. His work is in the permanent collection of MOMA in New York City; MOMA in Wales, UK; MuBE, Sao Paulo; LACMA, Los Angeles; and Fluxus Museum in Texas. 

“Oxendrawn #9”, graphite and electronic digital media on paper, 10 x 12 in | 25 x 30 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

Leonardo DaVinci. On each viewing his drawings seem to draw themselves anew. This sensation of movement ends in a mighty stillness in his paintings. Here I sense a timelessness that gives them a contemporary attitude. To me it’s oddly American. I think of Warhol’s electric chairs. Hopper’s rooms. Pollack’s thickets of time.   

How did you become a professional artist?

Well, I come from a working-class family in a gritty city. My mother’s family were Italian immigrants, and my father was Pennsylvania Dutch. It was either the steel mill or something else. 

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

My parents bought a set of encyclopedias. There was a section about painting in the P volume. My drawing habit switched from copying comics to copying the old masters. Later, libraries were crucial. My inspiration became modern art and poetry. 

Lawrence Charles Miller, portrait by Peter Isaac Miller 

How is your work different than everything else out there?

Recently, my work has become something else. It is different relative to … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Hayley Ferber

Hayley Ferber is an artist, educator, curator, and contemporary arts leader living in Brooklyn, New York. In her personal artistic practice, Ferber creates artist’s books with suminagashi paper marbling, watercolor painting, embroidery and printmaking exploring nautical themes. With a BS from New York University in Studio Art, an MAT from the Rhode Island School of Design in Art & Design Education and over 10 years of teaching experience, Ferber’s professional mission is to facilitate and support creative opportunities in the arts. As Deputy Director of Chashama, a non-profit that repurposes unused real estate into artist studios and exhibition spaces, she supports a creative community of multidisciplinary artists.

“Chase”, mixed media, 4 x 6 to 4 x 24 in | 10 x 15 to 10 x 61 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

My favorite artist of all time is Kiki Smith. I’m amazed by all the different mediums she works with from printmaking to photography to textiles to sculpture and appreciate the universality of her content exploring the human condition.

How did you become a professional artist?

I studied painting and drawing at NYU as an undergrad and found my way to book and print making about 10 years later. I teach and curate and feel that all of these practices are closely linked. I also work as Deputy Director of Chashama, a non-profit where I support a multidisciplinary group of artists with free presentation space and subsidized studio rentals. 

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

I am greatly inspired by the sea. There is something about the mystery and adventure that lies beneath the waves, this whole other universe full of beauty. As Henry B. Culliver describes in The Book of Old Ships, “… the ship, combines all the elements of aesthetic fundamentals; … Click here to read more

Nigerian-born artist and architect Peju Alatise on her back-to-back Venice Biennales, Yoruba influences, and giving back to Africa

We recently sat down with Nigerian-born artist and architect Peju Alatise at her new Glasgow studio to find out more about her back-to-back Venice Biennales, how she juxtaposes being a contemporary architect and fine artist, and how Yoruba culture has helped her work stand out in today’s global art world.

“You need a little bit of luck, as we know arduous work isn’t everything. Do what you do because you love it, and because you can’t live without it.” 
– Peju Alatise
“Alagemo” sculpture, part of “Alasiri” installation at the Arsenale of the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021. Photo credit: Adeyemo Shokunbi 

Alatise is an interdisciplinary artist, architect, and author of two novels. She started her professional career as an architect while running a private art studio. These days, she is a leading voice in contemporary art on the African continent. Her practice is relentlessly experimental and labor-intensive. She produces works across a variety of mediums, techniques, and materials, including but not limited to paintings, film, installations, sculptures. Her work is also pointedly political, often asking damning questions, and provoking reflections about the times, the state of affairs at home and abroad. The artist’s work has, in the past, explored exploitative labor practices in Nigeria, child rights with a focus on young girls, state-sanctioned violence against citizens, migration and the policies that ensure that many die at sea, seeking a better life. Alatise now produces through the lens of spirituality and Yoruba cosmology, leaning into ancient storytelling traditions and crafting alternative social imageries.

When asked about some of her favorite artists, Alatise hesitated for a moment, and eventually offered the answer that it changes from season to season. Right now, she is looking at Mexican sculptor Javier Marín and continues to be impressed Chiharu Shiota whose work she first discovered at the Venice Biennale in 2015. Marin’s … Click here to read more

The Future of Art: Willie Cole, a contemporary artist creating unique work and positive change.

Willie Cole has been ­­­making innovative work with unique iconography for over half a century, but talking to him, he sounds like a friendly, smart colleague or neighbor next store. Perhaps that’s why his work is so accessible and inspirational.

The artist, who lives in Mine Hill, NJ, has been the subject of shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998), Bronx Museum of the Arts (2001), and Miami Art Museum (2001). These institutions, some of the biggest in the world, along with private collectors from New York to Los Angeles, see something provocative in his work.

When Art Review City caught up with him, the artist invited us to a visit his home studio where he was finishing the works for the collective exhibition “There’s There There,” curated by renowned American artist Rashid Johnson at blue-chip gallery Hauser and Wirth’s Southampton location. This show invites visitors to reflect upon the pleasures and complex histories of the shapes, movements, and objects that permeate the everyday, and Cole’s ironing board works are clearly the stars of the show. 

Installation view, ‘There’s There There’, Hauser & Wirth Southampton, 2021. © Hauser & Wirth. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Thomas Barratt.

The artist has spent a lifetime working to look at thing differently than most artists. He is most concerned with recycling, green energy, and living a healthy and spiritual life to live at one with Mother Earth. He spent many of his early days in a pew at Sunday School, and later studied Buddhism in high school and college, but today he says he is a “no-frills nature worshipper” which explains a lot about him as a man and as an artist. “Nature, no matter what you call it, is powerful, and it deserves to be admired … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Kaoruko

Kaoruko’s painting process pays homage to both traditional and contemporary Japanese artistic methodologies by using water-based paint (acrylic), gold leaf, sumi-e (traditional calligraphy techniques), ukiyo-e (traditional Japanese woodblock prints) and silkscreened kimono patterns on canvas. By juxtaposing all these similar yet separate elements, Kaoruko weaves together narratives of the young and old, the bourgeoning and bygone to deliver poignant paintings that straddle cultural, sexual and geographic beliefs and stereotypes of feminine identity at a crucial time that is rewriting the narrative on what it is to be female both here and abroad.

“Teddy Bear”, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 60 x 54 in | 152 x 137 cm, 2018

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

Gustav Klimt

How did you become a professional artist?

I was a Japanese pop singer when I was a teenager. Based on my experience of playing the “kawaii (pretty/cute)” character in Japan, I still keep expressing the beauty of women in the art world.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

I am currently inspired by the unique Japanese traditional crafts such as “Washi”, traditional Japanese paper, “Aizome”, Japanese indigo dye, and “Arita-yaki”, Japanese porcelain.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

I incorporate the Japanese culture, like Japanese paintings and manga with my works. I use a method of drawing in 2D with a “Mensoufude”, fine pointed brushes and using a 200-year-old kimono pattern into a silk screen to make it look like a collage.

When is a piece finished for you?

When I start drawing my work, my inspiration talks to me. Coincidence calls for the chance. Various colors and ideas are born by that voice. When the conversation stops, I finish the work.

Kaoruko, photo by Hisao Taya.

What’s different

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Artist Q&A with Tali Rose Krupkin

Tali Rose Krupkin is an Israeli-American artist based in Jersey City, NJ. Krupkin attended the Year Course program in Israel, and received her BFA in Painting and Art History at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers. She draws inspiration for her work from her own experiences as they relate to topics of feminism, spirituality, and nature. In her recent collection of work, the artist pays homage to women reclaiming their voices to oppose forced societal pressures of objectification and expected domesticity.

“Deep in the Sushi”, collage, 14 x 11 in | 36 x 28 cm, 2020

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

Matt Bollinger is an artist that continues to be a great influence for me. Having initially viewed his work through a screen, I was drawn to his handling of paint and use of color. In 2015, I had the opportunity to experience his work in person at Zürcher Gallery and was blown away by his inclusion of collage in his paintings. When he spoke at New York Studio School in 2018, I was further intrigued by his depictions of personal narratives and his ability to de-idolize “finished” parts of his paintings, which he continuously paints over to create his animations.

How did you become a professional artist?

If you’re an artist, you’re an artist. You simply are. Growing up, I was at peace when I was creating, and that’s still true for me now. My creativity and self-expression are an integral part of who I am. From a career perspective, it’s much like any other path; you make a plan, and you work on that plan every single day. 

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

Inspirations for my work come from my female experience, an exploration … Click here to read more