Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Shifting Gears to Avoid a Pigeon Hole


“I never saw art as being a career.
It's just some people want to make things, and some people don't,
and the people who do,
get defined in the world by the things they make.
Julian Schnabel

Whilst arguably best known as a film maker with a Cannes best director award to his credit the American artist Julian Schnabel considers his primary endeavor to be painting.

As he told BoulinArtinfo’s Linda Yablonsky “Painting is like breathing to me. It’s what I do all the time. Every day I make art, whether it is painting, writing or making a movie.

A point he underscored with The Interview Magazine’s Mark Grotjahn “I've been painting since I was little, and I shift gears—I even shifted gears into making films. But I never stopped making paintings.

And even with his paintings Schnabel has shifted gears, at times quite dramatically. He first came to the attention of the art world with his “Plate Paintings” in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Since then Schnabel has embraced a wide array of mediums for his work ranging from velvet via cowhide and found objects to tarpaulins that have been dragged through the dirt. His current work involves painting over photographs transferred to canvas.

As he says “I see paintings everywhere. I look at stuff and it looks like painting to me. Making a painting is like playing the saxophone. You hit the note and it comes out. I think my paintings are about time—a lot to do with time and different levels of things that are having a parallel life.”

It is an approach that has seen him drift in and out of public favor which combined with an attitude that takes no prisoners ensures his bridges are often burned.

Contemplating consistency in painting Schnabel has said “It is artists believing that their work should always have the same appearance. They're satisfied to let this appearance be the emblem of their art, because it's what people have come to expect them to do. This is either a sign of arrogance, resignation, or atrophy.

As the recently appointed director of the Brooklyn Museum, Anne Pasternak, told the New York Observer’s M H Miller in 2013 People in the arts like to put people in boxes. Julian has been one of those people who is insistent that you can’t put him in a box. You hear people say, ‘Oh, he’s really a filmmaker’ or ‘Oh, the films are better than the paintings.’ This is all bullshit. Julian is an artist, and whatever form suits his need best is what he’s going to pursue, and we need to recognize that.”


Schnabel’s current exhibition Jack climbed up the beanstalk to the sky of illimitableness where everything went backwards is on show at Paris’ Almine Rech Gallery until the 14th of November.


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