June 2, 2013
JOSHUA DILDINE: CONSTRUCTION, DECONSTRUCTION & RECONSTRUCTION
I found Joshua Dildine through art dealer Mark Moore. I got an email from Mark who asked me to take a look at his work http://joshuadildine.com/. I did and loved his work, asked Mark to connect us and the result is the interview below. Joshua is a great artist and cool, Los Angeles dude.
MICHAEL: Hello Joshua, Your work is very cool. I’ve seen some things that look like photography combined with abstract painting. How do you describe the work you’re doing right now? What’s inspiring you?
JOSHUA: Thank you Michael. The works on photographs have been something I have been investigating a little over two years now and I still find new things that I am inspired by all the time in them. In my work, the photographs act as an armature for the abstract paintings. In that respect, I respond intuitively while still influenced by the objects in the photos. The photos I choose are family photographs. I am inspired by the personal and nostalgic connection I have with each image. My process navigates through three different stages; construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction. The aspect of construction is set up by the emotional context that the images innately possess. For example, an image of my mother reminds me how wonderful my mother is. The photograph is only an image that reminds me of the real person. Therefore, I have given the image that context. Deconstruction occurs with the first gestural marks over the photo. Some would call it defacement. This stage only last for a few moments because I quickly move to harmonize the photo with paint. I “reconstruct” the context, using some visual information left over to be in dialogue with gesture.
MICHAEL: This process could easily turn into a mess with many people not “getting it” at all. Is this something that you consider while you’re painting or do you just leave interpretation up to individual observers?
JOSHUA: Most definitely. I am ok with “the mess.” I think that individual interpretation is something inevitably impossible to avoid and actually should be expected in abstraction. It is interesting that the paintings can function larger than my own limited input. Since certain characteristics of the photos are left visible, there are elements that the viewer can self associate with. Most personal and identifying details are obscured, so the viewer is left with bits like shaggy carpet or floral curtains, a pair of boots or part of a lamp. This makes for a more general feeling of the past that they may relate to. Also, there is something appealing about excavation. Trying to figure out what was there, behind the paint, is an entry point for some people. Although, for the most part, these objects function on a purely visual level, servicing the abstract nature of the work.
MICHAEL: What’s a typical day like for you? Do you leap out of bed inspired and ready to work or is inspiration more of a process from day to day? LOL.
JOSHUA: I wouldn’t say leap. Maybe a slow crawl to the French Press. I do have a regular studio practice. I wake up, play with my son, have breakfast with my wife and kid and head off to work and then I come home in the evenings. It is a job, and I approach it as such. As far as inspiration goes, it can come in the monsoons and droughts of life. Sometimes the influences and thoughts flow and sometimes they trickle. I do have to make deposits in the inspiration bank on a regular basis. I have to experience the world outside the studio to feed the work in the studio. My prep work involves sifting through source photos to scan and print. Then I work over smaller printed photos at home, before working on a big, printed canvas in the studio.
MICHAEL: Where are you exactly? Los Angeles? Shouldn’t you be in NYC with all of the other “serious” artists? What’s the deal?
JOSHUA: It was either NYC or LA. I decided to go with the weather, beach, and proximity to family. I love LA. There is something about being able to snowboard and surf in one afternoon which is pretty incredible. Do I snow board or surf? No… but it’s the idea of it that is so intriguing. I live and work just east of LA. It is close enough to the city, without being in the city.
MICHAEL: I like LA, but I don’t get a sense of cohesion about it. Everything is so spread out and it seems disjointed. How does this affect the art community there? I know that contemporary art has really been rising there big time.
JOSHUA: I completely agree. It is hard to go to all the openings and see all the shows, hang out with the all of your artist friends, etc. If you are not willing to get in the car and drive, it is hard to develop a larger community. Maybe that is what gives LA its strength? What happens when the art community is spread out all over the city is that tribes start to develop. Groups that form, tend to congregate and attend the same openings, hang out in the same cities and maybe go to the same bbq’s or bars. Perhaps they like the same type of art or even make similar work. Maybe they all attended the same grad school or maybe they all idolize Martin Kippenburger or maybe they all hate puppies. You get the idea. I think most people are aware of this system even New York has this system. Google+ has a social media tool for it virtually. It allows you to put your friends in different categories/circles. You know your best friends can usually infiltrate multiple categories. I think successful artists can do the same by infiltrating multiple circles or tribes. That is something that New York does really well. Maybe it is not having to spend countless hours in the car while parked in traffic? I’m not sure. You probably can give me a better reason.
MICHAEL: Hmm. I’m not sure.
JOSHUA: How does being spread out give LA it’s strength? It takes more effort to get to places, events and openings. Driving is all a part of the culture in LA. You plan out your time by freeway patterns and traffic flow. Perhaps the need to be more selective is what creates these groups of people with similar interests. It also means that you have a greater chance to investigate what it is you are interested in with regular dialogue. A good example of this is coffee culture. There is a collection of people (like in Seattle) that REALLY loves coffee and they are extremely critical of coffee. Their community and obsession improves the craft of coffee making, and drinking, for the greater good to benefit everyone who drinks coffee. I think it is the same between artists and different types of artwork. The communities of interest create improvement. Apart from all of that, there is an exciting energy around art in LA and it is fun to be part of it.
MICHAEL: Very cool. Do you come from an artistic family? What was your first memorable experience with art and when did you realize that you would become an artist?
JOSHUA: The only person in my family who is artistic is my Grandmother. She taught me to love paint and color. We would often go on road trips and she would quiz me on the colors I saw in the landscape. She introduced me to paint at a very young age. On the other hand, everyone else was artistically disinterested. Not to be confused with unsupportive. I come from a very athletic family. My brothers are extremely gifted in athletics and I was not so. As I would cheer for them during a soccer or volleyball match, they countered with their support and praise of my work. Although to them, going to a museum would be like spending an afternoon at the DMV. I became an artist in spite of my family, but as you can see, they are a strong source of inspiration.
MICHAEL: Did you attend art school? If so, what did art school give you that you would not otherwise have?
JOSHUA: For undergrad, I went to a liberal arts college, which was a great rounding experience. The art program was small and close knit. I had the opportunity to travel and make friends who are now in all sorts of fields. I got my MFA from Claremont Graduate University. It’s not what I would call your stereotypical “art school” experience, but it was exactly what I needed. I honed a serious studio practice work ethic there, had lots of one-on-one studio visits and formed an array of connections that are invaluable today as I work in the LA art world.
MICHAEL: If you could change some things about the art world/art market, what would they be? What’s hurting working artists the most these days?
JOSHUA: Those are hard questions and I am not sure I have good answers. The whole structure of the art world/ art market is fascinating and I am still exploring it. I spent some time at Basel and the rest of the Miami fairs this last December. I remember thinking how easy it is for an artist to write it off and be disgusted about the entire idea of the fairs. “It’s like watching your parents have sex …” was something that an artist told me about his experience at Basel. I did not feel disgusted or jaded by going to the fairs. I went away feeling inspired to make new work. I would much rather walk through countless fairs to experience art work in person, than viewing it on a computer screen or book. Yes, seeing art in its natural habitat would be the ideal scenario, but I would still rather take the opportunity to see a Daniel Richter piece in person at a fair than Googling it online.
MICHAEL: Finally Joshua, What’s the point or message of your work? What are you saying and what’s the point of art anyway?
JOSHUA: I don’t think that there is one message I want the viewers to take away from my work. There is hope that viewers can have an emotional response, but what I investigate and what the viewer takes away can have some autonomy. I think the point of my work is an outlet for me to create. It is a vehicle for self expression (cliche, I know). I do not often think about this, I just make because I need to make. I’m obsessed and this is the way I satisfy the obsession. I think this is the case for many artists. I think the point of art, at its core, is entertainment. As maker and viewer, art can be intellectually, visually and emotionally stimulating. Perhaps the undefinable element of it is what continually attracts us to art.
MICHAEL: Well said. Thanks Joshua. This has been great. I wish you the very best.
JOSHUA: Thanks Michael! It’s been great. I wish you the best as well.
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