23 April 2011

Dustin London


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make impermanent, site specific, small-scale wall paintings.

What drives you to make work?

Making work is the by-product of my need to penetrate as deep within myself as I possibly can. I was five years of age when I first tried to imagine nothingness while laying in a bathtub. It made me keenly aware of myself, my existence as a human being, and my connection to the universe. Making work keeps me close to this place, maintains this connection and makes my life feel most worthwhile.

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

For me seeing and thinking is as important as making, and of course informs what I make. So, simply being present in the world and seeing things around me with a clear mind is probably half of what I do. I also make thin smooth shapes on the wall with joint compound and then paint on them. The decisions of what shapes to make and what marks or compositions go on these shapes is largely intuitive and made with the other shapes and compositions around them in mind, as well as what has come before on the wall. Documenting the work also takes up a significant portion of the day and is hugely important since it is all that remains once a work is destroyed. It can sometimes take longer to photograph a piece than to make it.

How long have you been working in that way?

One year. Though before that I was making oil paintings on canvas that had similar imagery and was based on very fleeting peripheral visual experience. I was accumulating my own stockpile of paintings that took less and less time to achieve the freshness I wanted, which became kind of ridiculous after a while. So, it seemed to me that the process of it, that basic visual thought, was the important thing and that the work could actually be impermanent rather than referencing something impermanent.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

Pierre Bonnard for his intimacy, buoyancy, and the way everything he sees feels like a nerve ending exposing all his feelings and thoughts. Philip Guston for his bluntness of mark and form and his deeply felt sense of magic and mystery. Edward Gorey who shares a love of dead trees against overcast skies.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

The centimeter rainbow cast on my wall by my front door's sunset peephole. The cheap clapboard of an old white house against a slightly cooler white sky. Icicles refracting. The moon's slow motion across the lens of a telescope.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

In person and in time. Unfortunately, documentation is the only thing most people will see, but hopefully there is something to be gleaned from that in its own way.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

The opening sequence of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was one of the most amazing filmic intros I have ever seen. It's a very slow, still, dark scene of a water buffalo in the jungle at dusk. Also, a scene toward the end of Kurosawa's One Wonderful Sunday where a despairing poor couple finds themselves in a desolate amphitheater and Numasaki tries to cheer up his lover by jumping onstage to conduct Schubert's Unfinished Symphony to an imaginary orchestra, only to be squelched by the howling of the wind. Absolutely beautiful.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

I'm going on a residency to Millay in June, followed by a nomadic few months of camping, and then spending a year in the desert in New Mexico to focus on my work. Very much looking forward to it!

1 comment:

  1. I saw Dustin work at a residency in Wyoming this winter. Everyone should have the purifying and joyful experience of being in the presence of these beautiful, austere, funny, generous wall pieces. Somebody needs to give him a great commission! Thanks for posting the interview, and good luck, Dustin.