05 August 2011

Michael Callaghan


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I use acrylic paint and vinyl cloth tape (aka 'gaffers' tape), and to a lesser extent, masking tape, to create non-objective images on stretched canvas (sizes varying between 6" x 8" (canvas board for sketches) through and up to 72" x 84" currently). I do not start with a pre-determined image in mind; however, I build an image in layers initially based on tape and paint sketches. I like to gesture large in the beginning. To that end, I start with either an elaborate grid of tape or paletted paint swatches. I continue with several composed - almost 'action' - layers of tape or paint. Most works have upwards of 5 layers or more. The process of layering is what excites me the most. The final textured image hopefully delays the resolve of the viewer's eye to see space in an interesting way.

What drives you to make work?

For many years I worked in the film industry as an assistant cameraman, and we had all this tape left over. It fascinated me by its texture, color, strong adhesion quality, and flexibility. It is fairly toxic to the environment if thrown away and I wanted to find a different use for it. I actually used to 'sketch' with it during down-time at work on various media. I often recycle tape from one painting to use in others.

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

I'm lucky that I seem to wake up every morning with enthusiasm to do work. I'm a morning person and if I don't start something by 11 am, it will never happen. Sketching with tape and paint is important pretty much every day, and I put some of them on my website to demarcate between sections of similar images to help viewers see my progression.

How long have you been working in that way?

One year with the current full-time method. I have been taping and painting intermittently for 10 years.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

I look at a lot of high-end photographic images of fashion and architecture - mostly elaborate, big, flowing clothing and vibrantly colored, yet very minimal architecture. The fashion and architecture images help generate my gestures and influence my final color choices, sometimes monochromatic. Names: Newman, Judd, Malevich, Kelly, Diebenkorn.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

My wife's drive, professionalism, and happiness in her job inspires me. Ambient music. I try to cook a lot of complex dishes, full of color, to appear simple and elegant.

How would you like people to engage with your work? 

Generally, most people see grids or maps or some kind of relief that seems familiar, something to latch onto and try to resolve. Those final images are not my intention but usually start an interesting conversation.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

I just discovered Minus Space in Brooklyn which deals exclusively with Reductive Art. I also saw a show at THEODORE:Art in Soho (NY) with Andrew Seto, Damien Flood and Joy Garnett. Andrew Seto is infinitely inspiring as he tweets his daily travels with amazing photo images which clearly inform his painting process.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

Hopefully a baby.

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