View Pauls work in UP IN SMOKE
Interview by Christie Kim, Photographs by Brian Willmont
Greenpoint Terminal Gallery: The two pieces you have in the exhibition UP IN SMOKE with Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, “Head” and “Screen,” are noticeably different from your previous object-oriented paintings. They seem restrained, almost orderly compared to your other works. Can you describe a little about the pieces that’s on display?
Paul Wackers: Those were some early tests for me of isolating some of the objects. I paint in groupings within my paintings. I wanted to see what kind of resonance they had with less context.
GTG: You oscillate between chaos and order in most of your paintings through the use of various elements like color, geometry, and objects. Have you always been interested in juxtaposition and if not, how did this interest emerge?
PW: Yeah, I think it has always been a concern in my paintings. Painting is such a fluid medium and it is relatively easy to set up those moments and to explore them with ease and quickness. I, also, think it is something that is very common in the real world. It’s all about things rubbing up against each other and seeing what sticks and what needs to be re-thought.
GTG: You've been all over the place; i.e., DC, San Francisco, and NYC. How has this influenced your work and have you ever thought about working abroad?
PW: I think location adds to the running list of source material I have to paint from. I think looking at photos on the internet is great but experiencing things first hand always adds to my understanding of how things go and exist. I have worked abroad before; I spent four months in France a year and a half ago. In two weeks, I leave for Norway for three months, I can’t wait to see how that works out.
GTG: I sense that you have medium preferences. So acrylic and spray paint all the way, right? Have you experimented with other mediums?
PW: Yeah, that’s right. I have tried oils but I can’t deal with the fumes or drying time. I, also, make ceramics but I have not really shown any yet.
GTG: I enjoy how you play with titles in most of your works like “Dreamers Den” and “Specters of the Spectrum.” You rarely have “untitled” paintings, why is that?
PW: I think everything needs a name, it helps me take ownership of it. “Untitled” for everything would seem way too noncommittal.
GTG: In “The Temperature of Want” and “Assumptions of Worth,” you have various objects laid out on shelves, a reflection of what we see everyday in a strange methodically arranged way. How did you choose which objects to paint in these paintings?
PW: They are things I have around the studio or, in a painterly moment, I want to keep around. It’s a pretty spontaneous process, really.
CK: What projects are you working on at the moment?
GTG: I am working on paintings that will be in the Volta Art Fair in NYC this March. Also, I’m getting ready to leave for Norway for a residency at Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale (NKDALE).