Response from “Bomb Magazine” Peter Dreher. “You paint the same object every day. You have since 1974. That fascinates me.”
Peter Dreher, detail from installation Tag Um Tag ist Guter Tag, February 1996, oil on canvas, all 8 x 10 inches. Courtesy of Monique Knowlton Gallery.
The first sentence and reason for the interview indicate why this conversation will be meaningful. As the viewer of artwork, we can draw our conclusions, but understanding exactly why an artist does what he or she does c comes from gaining insights from him or her. This past summer, I was lucky enough to stay with a couple who are both artists.
One night, during one of our conversations, Paul said something to me that was so profound. It was as if the biggest light bulb went off in my mind. I was struggling with the idea that a work should take time. And if a work is completed quickly or simply, it wasn’t considered a high form of art. I can not remember his exact words, but his sentiment went something like this: “Every time you place a mark on the paper it’s as if you are putting years of experience and know-how to every stroke or every decision. It doesn’t matter how fast you accomplish something because it’s taken you years of experience to create that mark or decision.” This idea goes back to the interview of Peter Dreher which suggests the idea that the redundancy of painting the same thing every day may cause people to ask themselves, what is the point?
Artists try to hone in on their technical skill by making the work better each time, but instead, as the interviewer says, she wants to understand the reasoning behind the process. That’s where the artists find the most growth, within themselves. What is the story behind this obsession? When will it stop? The interviewer points out that there might not be answers that she wants to hear or to even understand. However, we can still gain knowledge about the innermost thoughts of the artist. At the same time, as with most interviews; the viewer finds what makes this person unique and that is what makes his or work so strong; it’s the dedication, grit, and autonomy each of us has that makes our work incredibly unique.