“Well, there are all sorts of things online like that. I think people, when they’re at the office, when they’re bored, they look at the toy duck in a dog’s stomach. Kind of odd, but it’s a visual tool so it informs the way I work formally, but also the content of it has to do with insides and outsides of the body. The ways technology allows us to look in and look through … that would be an example of a universal image that I always have around, it becomes part of my iconic set. But for one like this [gestures to Black Moon Socket,2013], it could be anything, from an art historical reference, such as a Rousseau painting, or there are images of indoor jungles from the Victorian period, or pictures on people’s vacation blogs in Brazil, or something like this. And sometimes the image will strike me because there’s something a bit wrong about it, or the person taking it either doesn’t care at all about formal concerns, and so strange warts appear in the image, or they care specifically so much in making it look like something that already exists in the world and conforms to a set of our predetermined desires about what nature is, and how it should look – the greenness of the green, the edges. And you see this a lot in iPhone photos, of course, because they’re hypersaturated. Sometimes, I’ll actually get a feeling of anxiety because it’s this hyperness of the world – and so, yeah, working on a painting like that [gestures to Black Moon Socket, 2013], I might have a set of images.
…It was important to me when I started making sculpture to bring painting issues and sculpture issues together. Often, I think they’re separated in a curatorial role sort of unnecessarily, maybe because it’s a matter of convenience. There are all sorts of reasons why people don’t think about paintings in as rigorous a way sometimes as they think about sculpture. So when I make these [gestures to Gate 2014], I’m not interested in making a 3D version of a painting, because painting does what it does through a process partially of illusionism. Because it’s a flat surface and then there’s the feeling of depth created by different thicknesses of paint and other kinds of drawing techniques. Whereas a sculpture is already real and in the world – it’s not an experience of illusion so you can’t just pour paint over a lump and have it do what a painting does because it intrinsically has a different life in the world and a different physical relationship to a person. So the idea with making sculptures that seemed worth making was to employ the kind of linguistic thought process and series of actions that happen in the painting with objects, and that way create a more open dialogue rather than just a kind of mimicry.” [Elizabeth Neel in conversation with MK Palomar]
“At the beginning of a painting, it’s almost arbitrary what happens, but it stays abstract for a long time. It’s more about movement, shapes, and colors. As for drawing, I’m usually making a lot of drawings in notebooks to illustrate thoughts, or that could become thoughts by themselves. They’re often funny. Three years ago I started to incorporate drawing into painting. The drawings that I had done before in paintings were just outlines of shapes, so for me they stayed abstract. They were never anecdotal moves describing a head, or an eye, or a bottle, or whatever. Recently, I started to think that things would get more intense if the paintings had that factor of anecdote. I would make the drawings bigger and more painterly, cut them out, and move them over the painting to see where they would “land,” where they would enhance the painting. Then I would paint an exact copy of that drawing into the painting. And that’s when the heads started to appear. A head, or a pair of eyes, that looks back from a painting is a death sentence for a painting, so I tried to avoid that by either having a profile, or having the eyes covered, or making the head an object.
…We are living in dark times, and that has seeped in. These feelings—of fragility, of helplessness, of sadness—that we are all experiencing have had two effects on me during the past few years. One is that I actually have a feeling of being able to dare more, because it feels like I need to throw myself against the wall. I need to do the stupid move that actually expresses my feelings. But also, it does the opposite, it shuts things, closes them down hermetically even more than usual. My paintings usually have a way of being closed in upon themselves, and that makes them maybe a little more intense. I just read that 76% of all flying insects in Germany are gone, just gone. Every day there seems to be something like that, a kind of news-bit that would have been a headline twenty years ago and would have made everybody cry out in pain and fear, and now we just eat it up in this weird way.” [Charline Von Heyl in conversation with Raphael Rubinstein]
FB: You use a lot of literal question marks, as well as a lot of J’s, which resemble upside-down question marks. There is no “decoding,” or answering the antinomies your paintings propose: robot or human, original or remake, information or art. You’re thrown back onto the structure itself, and the constituent units of the structure—the all-too-familiar keyboard characters.
JH: Right, keyboard characters are both familiar and unfamiliar. They leave you suspended on the razor edge between the pure abstraction of language and the possibility of communication. The promise of keyboard characters is to universally communicate, but it comes with all this disappointment and miscommunication. So I have brought that promise and disappointment into the painting alongside this array of visuals that is also reliant upon the very same components—letters smashed together with color and gesture. But I hope it produces a sense of longing for real communication and content. Is that hopelessly romantic?
FB: Yes, it’s a romantic and sublime threshold state. You see and feel these antinomies, and they stay with you, but instead of getting a new artificial synthesis, you’re left suspended.
JH: That’s what I call a limited case of transcendence, which is more about causing desire than resolving it. So the painting frame remains to keep things bounded, just as dance has a beginning and end, or sculpture has a back and a front.
FB: In one painting, you quite strikingly have a flat smiley-face sculpture tacked on outside the frame. It’s a 3D-printed yellow disk of a new emoji, but with the neutral face of a classic emoticon, so it’s an emoji-emoticon hybrid.
JH: I needed to put something outside the frame, hanging off the painting. And when that happened, it energized and made the inside active. It is clearly outside; it’s been pushed out. That can be narrativized. I did it for formal reasons, but I can’t account for my unconscious reasons for insisting on that emoji-emoticon face. I would call it a joke, but we all know what jokes are. 😐 [Jacqueline Humphries in conversation with Felix Bernstein]