24 August 2011

Emily Auchincloss


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make paintings. Labels are unwieldy and weird. I don’t very much believe in a hard line between abstraction and representation. But I guess I am more concerned with calling attention to moments when symbols and gestures come into being, and when they fall apart.

What drives you to make work?

The painful and wonderful feeling that comes when you see what you want to make, and you try to make it, and you fail partly, and something comes out that is a result of both trying very hard and giving in.  Perhaps like giving your ego a series of hugs and slaps.

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

I work on two or three paintings at a time, most of them are large- usually one will completely take over and then I reach a sort of plateau and then others start calling out. When it’s really good they all could perhaps be talking to each other. When I do drawings with oilstick on Duralar it is very fast work, and I have to be really conscious when I transition to the slower process of painting on canvas- I’m definitely still figuring that out. There is usually a lot of waiting, and then fast moves, and then some long slogs.

How long have you been working in that way?

About a year or so…I recently got a studio in Bushwick where I finally have everything where I want it to be, more or less, in terms of materials and tools, which is helping enormously.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

A selected list: Poussin, George Stubbs, Turner, Whistler, Johannes Itten, Francis Bacon for his stages, Phillip Guston, Elizabeth Murray (her early work very, very much), Charlene Von Heyl, Al Taylor, Keltie Ferris,  the amazing and under-known sculptor Phyllida Barlow, Alisha Kerlin very much, Celia Gerard, Linda Francis. My amazing fiancé, the sculptor Joshua Hart.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

The ocean and the sky: how the clouds and waves stand in for things vast and unseeable in their totality. Also Navajo Blankets, Gees Bend quilts and knitted patterns. Somehow I feel they are akin to the computerized aesthetic of fractured spaces and digital readouts. There’s a connection there that is compelling to me.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

I’d like them to suspend their disbelief. I’m starting to feel we live in a constant state of disbelief…that’s sad. I sure don’t want to. I’m a believer.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

Being in a glider plane at 9,300 feet made an impression. That was in the California desert, where I was recently.  We did what’s called a Wing Over, which is a trick where at one point you are completely upside down and the cockpit is filled with just mountains and sand, and you’re weightless for a moment… Also flying home to New York and looking out the window made a big impression too: seeing the irregular circles, lines and squares of crops and irrigation ditches and desert roads…I am sure they are going to make their way into my paintings. This country is a very beautiful thing from up above.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

I have a solo show in New Jersey in September and a group show in NYC. And hopefully a lot of studio time.

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