30 January 2011

Roger White


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make oil paintings and watercolors, and occasionally I work with an airbrush.
I think of these as simple ideas expressed in a complex way, or vice versa.

What drives you to make work?

I’m always curious to see how things look in paintings.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices?

I do things over and over. I work out ideas in drawings and watercolors, and use these as starting points for paintings. I paint pretty quickly, over only a few sessions, but often I make two or three (or five or six) versions of the same thing before I’m happy with it.
It’s also important for me to have different kinds of paintings going in the studio at the same time—this allows for some unexpected crossovers. Lately this has meant: more abstract things together with more representational things. The connection to perceptual painting, however tenuous, is very important to me, and I think of even the most non-objective paintings I make as essentially pictorial—rather than schematic or process-based or conceptual, or any of the other ways abstraction can be understood.

How long have you been working in that way?

The paintings have changed considerably over the years, but I’ve always made them more or less the same way.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

I’m a big Jasper Johns fan. Richard Diebenkorn was an early formative influence. Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz. Luc Tuymans and Raoul De Keyser. Vija Celmins, Albert York, Giorgio Morandi, Paul Klee. Alice Neel, Lucian Freud.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

My grandmother is a quiltmaker; I have many early memories involving paper patterns and scraps of fabric, and this has certainly had a big impact on what I do. I also worked as a printer for a long time, and many of my studio principles are derived from aspects of printmaking: repetition, an economy of means, a step-by-step process.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

Most everyone I know is juggling multiple jobs, various creative pursuits, relationships, children, students, art collectives, blogs, bands, yoga…. So if someone carves out even a little time to go look at the paintings, I feel very honored.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

It’s nice to see so many Alice Neel paintings in circulation because of the retrospective. The Roy Lichtenstein drawing show at the Morgan Library last fall was fantastic—it focused on a few years in the early 60s when he was fine-tuning his inimitable method. It made me want to rush back to the studio. Joe Bradley’s new paintings are great, and I’m really looking forward to the Hurvin Anderson show at Michael Werner in New York.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

Dushko Petrovich and I are illustrating a book-length poem by Andy Fitch called Island. The project will involve a rigorous program of walking and plein air drawing in New York, for which we’re currently in training.  

No comments:

Post a Comment