#81: Guy Maestri - "Morbid Curiosities + Exploring Mediums"

Winning the Archibald Prize as Guy Maestri did in 2009 would be a defining moment in most artist’s careers, but he is quick to cite physical immersion in the landscape as revolutionary to his painting practice. It’s easy to gloss over the history of plein-air as a European tradition, born of gentle grasses and mild sunlight. Practiced in Australia, away from the slip of green coastline, plein-air demands rigor of vast dimensions. For Maestri, the material and temporal challenges of extended painting sessions in the hard country around Hill End, Wilcannia and Broken Hill has been instrumental in a new understanding of local art histories and ecologies, as well as the atmospheric and elemental qualities of landscape. Beholden to intimacies of place, the artist stakes out a subtle void or stillness in these dry landscapes without surrendering his animated, almost kinetic approach to paint.

Masquerading as a shady retreat, the studio retains its disciplinarian attitude but demands a different kind of focus. Here the void is more theatrical, Maestri’s compositions orchestrated with operatic tempo. Desiccated road-kill (the anti-trophy of inland highways) perform as contemporary Gothic vanitas, shot through with equal measure of beauty and pathos, the eye and the heart facing off.

A graduate of the National Art School, Maestri won the 2014 Kings School Art Prize and the 2013 Premier’s Plein Air Painting Prize. He is a regular finalist in the Wynne Prize for Landscape at the Art Gallery of NSW and his work is held in several public collections, including the National Portrait Gallery and Parliament House collections.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • His experience studying at The National Art School in Sydney
  • Education in the arts
  • Exploring mediums within your artistic practice
  • How his work has evolved over the years
  • His paintings of road kill
  • Discussing self portraiture
  • How he began experimenting with sculptures
  • His process creating his sculptures
  • Morbid curiosities
  • Wes Anderson

Guy Maestri @ Jan Murphy Gallery

Guy Maestri's Personal Website

#80: Virginie Picot @ Iconoclast Image - "The Balance Between Art And Commerce"

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Virginie Picot – originally from Paris – has devoted the last 17 years of her career to talent management and visual creations, specializing in the fashion and music industries. Currently living in NYC, she is an agent and Executive Producer for Iconoclast Image and leads the print department. She represents emerging photographers such as Olivia Bee, David Uzochukwu, and Mathieu Cesar, as well as established talents such as Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Cyrille de Vignemont, and Gus Van Sant. She has worked alongside globally renowned recording artists such as Katy Perry, Future, and Kesha, as well as fashion designers including Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, Damir Doma, and Zaid Affa.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Starting her career directly out of university within the music industry
  • Working for V2 Music
  • Her experience working at a photo gallery in London
  • Working for Givenchy in Paris
  • Magic vs magick
  • Her love for the work of Francis Bacon and Alexander McQueen
  • Working for Iconoclast Image in NY
  • The balance between art and commerce
  • Servicing clients
  • Changes going on in the entertainment industry
  • Understanding the creative vision before developing a project
  • How to stay true to your creativity while taking a brief from a client
  • The realities of commercializing your artwork
  • Floria Sigismondi
  • Creating a body of work that defines your creative vision
  • Creating long term relationships vs. creating short term networks

Photography by Garet Field Sells

www.iconoclastimage.tv

#79: Brad Kunkle - "Invisible"

Brad Kunkle was raised in rural Pennsylvania and graduated from Kutztown University with a BFA in painting in 2001. Rather than continue his artistic pursuits in an academic environment, he became a house painter. That dubious, professional beginning however, taught him valuable lessons that became crucial to his later success. Having taught himself how to gild with precious metals for some of those residential projects, he later implemented those skills in his personal, fine art works.

His debut, fine art exhibition in 2010 at Arcadia Contemporary in NYC sold out before the show's opening night and was followed by a second sold-out exhibition two years later. Since then he has exhibited his paintings in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Miami, and his works can be found in private collections all over the world. His paintings have twice graced the cover of American Art Collector Magazine and have been published extensively online and in print in such highly read publications as Hi-Fructose, American Arts Quarterly, Lapham’s Quarterly, Juxtapoz and Fine Arts Connoisseur. Kunkle continues to be represented by Arcadia Contemporary in Los Angeles, where he had his debut, West Coast solo exhibition in November of 2016. More recently, Kunkle collaborated as an Art Director with the award-winning, special effects house, Imaginary Forces as his paintings became the foundation for the main title sequence of the Netflix original series, “Anne With An E.”

He lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Reflecting on his 2016 show “Invisible”
  • Muses
  • Social media misconceptions
  • “The Invisible Man” by H.G. Wells
  • Technical elements behind his work
  • Dreaming and lucid dreaming
  • The benefits of listening to music while you work
  • Meditation
  • Intention in creation
  • Elevating vs. entertaining

www.bradkunkle.com

#78: Chelsea Wolfe - "Macro Vs. Micro + On Her New Album Hiss Spun"

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“What I want is to open up. I want to know what's inside me. I want everybody to open up. I'm like an imbecile with a can opener in his hand, wondering where to begin—to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I'm sure of it.” - Henry Miller

Digging beneath the mess of the world to find the beauty underneath is perhaps the most consistent theme in Chelsea Wolfe’s expansive discography—a theme that ties together her ceaseless explorations in unorthodox textures, haunting melodies, and mining the grandeur embedded within ugliness and pain. With her sixth official album Hiss Spun, Wolfe adopts Miller’s quest to become empowered by embracing the mess of the self, to control the tumult of the soul in hopes of reigning in the chaos of the world around us. “I wanted to write some sort of escapist music; songs that were just about being in your body, and getting free,” Wolfe says of the album before extrapolating on the broader scope of her new collection of songs. “You’re just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fucked over and killed for shitty reasons or for no reason at all, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember it’s been fucked for a long time, it’s been fucked since the beginning. It’s overwhelming and I have to write about it.”

Hiss Spun was recorded by Kurt Ballou in Salem, Massachusetts at the tail end of winter 2017 against a backdrop of deathly quiet snow-blanketed streets and the hissing radiators of warm interiors. While past albums operated on the intimacy of stripped-down folkmusic (The Grime and the Glow, Unknown Rooms), or the throbbing pulse of supplemental electronics (Pain Is Beauty, Abyss), Wolfe’s latest offering wrings its exquisiteness out of a palette of groaning bass, pounding drums, and crunching distortion. It’s an album that inadvertently drew part of its aura from the cold white of the New England winter, though the flesh-and-bone of the material was culled from upheavals in Wolfe’s personal life, and coming to terms with years of vulnerability, anger, self-destruction, and dark family history. Aside from adding low-end heft with gratuitous slabs of fuzz bass, longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm contributed harrowing swaths of sound collages from sources surrounding the artist and her band in recent years—the rumble of street construction at a tour stop in Prague, the howl of a coyote outside Wolfe’s rural house in California, the scrape of machinery on the floor of a warehouse at a down-and-out friend’s workplace. Music is rendered out of dissonance—bomb blasts from the Enola Gay, the shriek of primates, the fluttering pages of a Walt Whitman book are manipulated and seamlessly integrated into the feral and forlorn songs of Hiss Spun.

The album opens with the sickening bang of “Spun”, where a lurching bottom-heavy riff provided by Chisholm and Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age, Failure) serves as a foundation to a sultry mantra of fever-dream longing and desire. The first third of Hiss Spun—whether it’s the ominous twang and cataclysmic dynamics of “16 Psyche”, the icy keyboard lines, restless pulse and harrowing bellows of Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, SUMAC) on “Vex”, or the patient repetition and devastating choruses of “The Culling—all carry the weight of desperation, lost love, and withdrawal. Wolfe’s introspection and existential dread turns outwards to the crumbling world around us with “Particle Flux”, an examination of the casualties of war set against an aural sea of static. White noise is a constant thread through Hiss Spun, with Wolfe finding solace in the knowledge that radio static is the sound of the universe expanding outwards from the Big Bang—a reminder that even dissonance has ties to creation. The electronic thump of “Offering” serves as an ode to the Salton Sea and the encroaching calamities stemming from climate change. The obsession with white noise and global destruction carries over into “Static Hum”, where the merciless percussive battery of Wolfe’s former bandmateand current drummer Jess Gowrie helps deliver the dire weight of a sonnet dedicated to a “burning planet.” By the time the album closes with “Scrape”, Wolfe has come full circle and turned her examinations back inward, reflecting over her own mortality with arguably the most commanding vocal performance in her entire oeuvre.

“The album is cyclical, like me and my moods,” Wolfe says of Hiss Spun. “Cycles, obsession, spinning, centrifugal force—all with gut feelings as the center of the self.” And it’s an album that Wolfe sees as a kind of exorcism. “I’m at odds with myself… I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.” Every Chelsea Wolfe album is cathartic, but never before has both the artist and her audience so desperately needed this kind of emotional purging. Sargent House is proud to release Hiss Spun to the world on September 22nd, 2017.

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Her radio show through Red Bull Music Academy called "Hypnos Hour"
  • The process of discovering yourself as an artist
  • The novel "1Q84" written by Haruki Murakami
  • The film "The Sevent h Seal" directed by Ingmar Bergman
  • Writing lyrics and song writing
  • Psychedelics opening up access portals
  • Her collaboration with Converge
  • Her new album "Hiss Spun"

www.chelseawolfe.net

#77: Zola Jesus - "Okovi"

Nika Roza Danilova has been recording and performing as Zola Jesus for more than a decade. As a classically trained opera singer with a penchant for noisy, avant-garde sounds, she launched her career with a series of lo-fi releases that pitted her soaring vocals against harsh industrial clatter and jittery synths. The signature Zola Jesus sound became more hi-fi as she began to explore her own skewed vision of pop music on releases like Stridulum, Valusia, and Conatus. With the release of Conatus, Danilova was propelled to regular appearances on festival stages all around the world, as well as a special performance at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. That era culminated in the release of Versions, a collection of string quartet interpretations of her most beloved work, conducted by J.G. Thirlwell (Foetus). That album and subsequent tour were followed by her most hi-fi outing to date, Taiga. Now, coinciding with her return to both the Wisconsin woods in which she was raised and her longtime label, Sacred Bones Records, Zola Jesus has produced Okovi, her darkest album yet. It is, in Danilova’s words, “a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of feral nature.”

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Depression
  • Dissecting sections of her creative process from an emotional and technical standpoint
  • Creative resourcefulness
  • Identity
  • Her thoughts on constructing honest lyrics
  • Yoshino and Zola Jesus’s collaboration together
  • Kindred spirits in collaborative creative partners
  • Exploring morbid curiosities and ideas surrounded around death
  • Understanding human suffering
  • Collaborating with David Lynch
  • Finding your own path
  • Resilience through failure

www.zolajesus.com

#76: Jesse Draxler - "Tire Fire + Developing a Point of View"

"Jesse Draxler is an artist best known for his collage and mixed media works, though with his new exhibition "Tire Fire" we find him returning to the medium that sparked his love of image making, drawing. As a child growing up in rural Wisconsin Draxler drew incessantly. Being that his father was a mechanic he would spend hours upon hours drawing cars, trucks, and engine parts. Later in adolescence, his attention changed as circumstances became bleak.

Draxler’s mother was in a near-fatal car accident when he was nine. Upon her recovery, over a year later, his parents were divorced. His mother, whom he was now living with, soon remarried. Then just months after the wedding she was ran over and killed by her new husband in his truck, an event to which he arrived just moments later.

In the following years, Draxler states that he barely remembers a thing. These times of pervasive uncertainty and loss changed him forever and his focus shifted to much darker interests. He was always an outcast from his peers, but from this time on Draxler leaned into his outsider lot in life. It wasn’t until almost two decades later that he began to see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Themes of bewilderment, isolation, ambiguity, and absurdity are all strongly represented in Draxler’s work, along with frustration and aggression. Yet these are not endpoints but have rather become the in-roads to deeper understanding and acceptance. It is clear he has spent the better part of his life straddling the line between fear and ecstasy, the beautiful and the grotesque. The result is Draxler’s unique ability to present a point of view in which the subtle nuances of the human condition are concisely illuminated, satisfying a psychological and emotional itch that so seldom gets scratched."

Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • Talks about his show TireFire
  • Containing multitudes
  • Finding the balance between commercial work and personal work
  • Developing a point of view
  • Susan Rothenberg
  • Viewing the entirety of your life as an artistic practice
  • Listening to music as a tool for creating art
  • Billy Corgan
  • “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey
  • The intersection of physical activities and artistic practices

www.jessedraxler.com