Friday, May 21, 2010
Gary Polonsky Interview
Large Leaf Group 3
acrylic on wire mesh 53 x 63 x 5 1/2"
Gary Polonsky's Botanical Series expands the boundaries of painting with added dimension.
Gary, where were you raised, and how has that environment and/or emotional climate influenced your art making?
I was born and raised here in LA. As a young boy, I was always drawing and building things: Erector Sets, wooden models, plastic models, paper models. Even Popsicle sticks. They were perfect for creating buildings and bridges.
A supportive family allowed me to pursue my art, but making a career of it was another matter. My father was in the import business, and had a large warehouse in Culver City that used to be the laundry for Culver Studios. I had about 1,000 square feet of space to use as a studio. And use it, I did.
One of my early motivations was the discovery of Jackson Pollock, and Abstract Expressionism. The energy, and enthusiasm of his work, and others was appealing and exciting. Most of all - it looked like a lot of fun. So my serious experiments with painting began many years ago.
What in particular fuels your passion toward this art you are making in 2010? Why the “leaves Gary? I’m completely fascinated with those leaves.
I’m finding - especially as we “all” age, a greater appreciation for the more common elements that make up what we perceive as life. My earliest experiments in AE were initially to emulate Pollock. It was all about learning - trying something new. It still is!
That sense of fun, that feeling - creating something unique, the pleasure and excitement of seeing your creation coming together - out of nothing. Those issues are motivating my work. The abstract work didn’t depend on a particular starting point or plan. Just the size of the canvas and a few colors. Other series, years later followed with other types of painting. Now – almost 50 years worth.
The leaf series developed over a short period of time, but as opposed to the abstracts, these began with a specific idea and a tentative plan. Using a (film) camera, scanner and computer, I started building a library of leaves with the idea of making them into paintings (not necessarily 3D though).
Again, I discovered another artist that sparked something in me - Patrick Hughes. His 3D “canvases” were amazing, unique, exciting, and very motivating.
With the idea of the third dimension in my head, and my library of leaves, I guess the idea just happened. Fascination: excellent word for it. I was fascinated with the colors and patterns of leaves, which were very reminiscent of my early work .Take a close look at practically any leaf on the ground. You’ll see small colorful abstract patterns, and colors. Each leaf is unique.
The only thing preventing me from proceeding with the series was the issue of the “canvas” itself; it wasn’t square anymore, it wasn’t flat, there were no stretcher bars, and no canvas. That critical issue meant that the requirements for the new canvas material were many. What material do I use instead of Canvass? Wire mesh!
acrylic on wire mesh 26 x 26 x 3"
What would you like your viewer to experience; do want to influence them toward some action or viewpoint?
Any experience is OK with me. When I was doing abstract expressionistic canvases, on more than one occasion someone would come up to me and say how much they liked the work. Each person had their own take on what they were looking at, but most liked the piece for some mysterious reason they could not always put into words.
Of course, there were some who didn’t . When that happened, I asked them what it was that they didn’t like. Almost always after some thought, they would say it was because they saw something in the painting (that I had not seen) that displeased them. I found those opinions to be quite helpful.
Painting - the arts in general, have their own language. No words are necessary - or required. The only influence, or viewpoint I hope to suggest is that life is more precious, more profound - than we realize. The only action I suggest is to awaken, like the Budda, to the higher consciousness, and wonder of life.
Could you talk a bit about your process in creating your work? Do you have a visual or emotional response that you initially want to capture? Do you always have a plan and stick to it? How do you begin and continue through completion?
As I mentioned before, I use digital tools to capture, compose, and develop ideas. I always carry my 35mm camera with me in hopes of capturing the beauty, and uniqueness of nature. And some subjects (small, colorful - fast – fish for example) require video.
Yes, I do have an initial idea that I try to capture, and develop, and then focus on. But an idea, a plan is just that, only a guide of sorts. Most plans change as the painting, or the series of paintings progress.
Interestingly enough, mistakes pay a big part of the process too. Most ideas, most paintings, when completed are not exactly what I anticipated when I started. And many times, those mistakes turn into something usable later on.
I also work on several pieces at the same time, so that if one painting becomes tedious, or a problem develops that requires me to consider what next to do, I always have another piece, or two, to work on.
Does any of this making of art that you do really matter? Why do you believe that?
Yes, it matters to me, and I believe it matters to most people - everywhere because it allows us the opportunity to share a common bound, a recognition, a communication that goes beyond words, or language, or cultures. Something we all can share, regardless of where you are from.
It’s an epiphany we experience as individuals that can be recognized, appreciated and shared with a diversity of people. All in the hope that each of us, in our own unique way, contributes to making our world a better place by promoting a higher understanding, and a greater respect for our selves, our planet, and our collective awakening consciousness.
If I may quote, from Thomas Moore (Care of the Soul), who puts it so profoundly: Creative work can be exciting, inspiring, and godlike, but it is also quotidian, humdrum, and full of anxieties, frustrations, dead ends, mistakes, and failures. It can be carried on by a person who has none of the soaring Icarus whishes to abandon the dark shadows of the labyrinth in favor of the bright sunshine. It can be free of narcissism and focus on the problems the material world furnishes anyone who wishes to make something of it.
Creativity is foremost, being in the world soulfully. For the only thing we truly make, whether in the arts, in culture, or at home - is soul.
Gary Polonsky with Large Leaf Group.
Gary Polonsky's exhibition at TAG Gallery begins May 25, 2010.