21 April 2011

Philip Miner


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make paintings, drawings and collages. I am interested in how I can make paintings that reflect the momentary with a clear acknowledgment that it’s not important to be novel or new, but that there’s so much to build upon and consider.

What drives you to make work?

The uncertainty in our time; everything today seems so tenuous, hard to get a grasp on. Making work is a way for me to intellectually process the material experience of living today. Painting exists somewhere between the see-able and the say-able.

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

I take snapshots that mix into a wide array of source materials ranging from art history to images downloaded from the Internet. In the studio these images act as starting points for works. I’m always looking at and drawing from these images. I like to try to make paintings that have a historical awareness. Each move relates to something that already exists in the world, and I like how that ties into a larger construction of the universe.

How long have you been working in that way?

I would think with acute awareness that I was working this way only the past four or five years, but actually perhaps as many as ten.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

Matisse has really taught me to think about the relations between scale and color, Robert Ryman took that down to the wall, Mondrian keeps me within the picture plane, while Blinky Palermo and Josef Albers are about interrelations. Recent curiosities in still life subjects have led me to 18th century still lifes. It’s interesting to me how the scale shifted from the Baroque to intimate paintings. And I really love to see non-representation in works prior to Modernism, as in Celtic manuscript illumination.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

I look at a lot of design, both graphic and architectural. I like to see what industrial designers are inventing. Lots of reading – lately I’ve had a lot of interest in the classics – Homer, Plato. With that in mind, I’ve also been listening to a lot of 20th and 21st century Classical music, composers like Glass, Riley Adams, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, Edgar Varese, which is totally new for me, but so richly complex.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

What I like about paintings is that they can be short or long experiences, but the viewer can hopefully repeat viewing the work and find something different each time.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

There was a recent show of Picasso that I took in – the drawings and collages that he did at the point of breaking into Cubism. It all hinges on his guitars. I found that level of engagement with something compelling.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

I’m working on new drawings and paintings that follow my recent show.

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