20 September 2011

Paul Pagk


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I spend my time painting, even in those moments I am not physically painting. I am a studio artist as that is where I spend most of my time and where I principally make my work. I paint in oils but I also have a large drawing and works on paper practice.

What drives you to make work?

I do not see myself doing anything else other than working on, thinking about and looking at painting. However here are a few of the reasons that come to mind, which may give an insight into what makes me work. The dialogue that manifests itself between me, painting and the painting; between me, my painting and the art, some of which I have seen since a very young age, that I am challenged by; between me, the painting and the development of an ever evolving language of painting and by the continuous occurring metamorphic nature of the painting and painting.

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

My studio is adjunct to my living space, so when I get out of bed in the morning, the first thing I do is to go into the studio to see what I did the day before, only after that do I shower and have breakfast, I can be in my studio sometimes way past midnight, I have small lunch and dinner brakes. My studio has northern light and my painting wall is on the eastside of the studio and the door to my studio is in the west studio wall. I usually have one large painting that I will be working on mostly, but also have 6 or more on the go that are in waiting as well as there are many small paintings in different states of completion. I use dry pigments that I grind into oil paint on a large glass slab, that I use as my palette. I do not prepare my colors in advance but I grind the colors while I am working, changing the hue of the color to the needs of the painting.

I will be thinking about where this or that painting should go in terms of painting, I will be thinking about the last paintings I have just worked on or brought to a level from where I am able to move on to the next work. I spend my time adding and removing from the painting, finding the color, the light, removing an element, adding to remove once more, allowing the painting to slowly define itself.

My drawing practice takes place in the same space as my painting; I have two different ways of approaching my drawing time, one which is drawing on and off while I am working on my paintings and the other which is more intensive where I will solely work on drawing for as long as it comes, producing numerous drawings until I feel that I have worn out that precise moment of drawing activity.

How long have you been working in that way?


Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

Difficult to answer, as art is an all out and all receiving practice, like when we breathe (without a dust mask), whatever comes your way you take in, even the work that I may not like will have something that may inform me on my own work. And to define which artists and paintings had a great effect on me would be long, due to the fact that my interests are in many different pictorial forms and in many different artists; so here is a small list, which should be by no means taken as definitive as there are many that I have left out, Giotto, Vermeer, Titian, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Goya, Eduard Manet, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Nicolas De Stael, Barnett Newman, Philip Guston, Agnes Martin, Eva Hess, Blinky Palermo, Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell,  Jo Baer, Donald Judd, my work is also informed by my close artist friends and my contemporaries, I have also spent long hours looking at Classical Chinese painting, Islamic art, as  well as at Classical Chinese pottery such as Sung dynasty pottery.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Local light, air, local color, color, space, aura, the Hudson river through my studio windows, Merleau Ponty Phenomenology of perception, Baruch Spinoza, Gaston Bachelard Air and Dreams, Gilles Deleuze Difference and Repetition, Li Po, music of all sorts, films, life, the space in front of the painting.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

-Totally- mind and body. Totally is how I would like people to engage with my work.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

The Henri Matisse show, Radical Invention at MoMA, The Edward Manet, the Man who Invented Modernity at Orsay, The Blinky Palermo Retrospective at Bard College and the DIA Beacon, Donald Judd’s and Dan Flavin’s installations at the Chinati Foundation Marfa.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

11 large paintings as well as 29 smaller ones I prepared in July, with which I have my work setout for me for about a year.


  1. Love this work. Remember when I first saw some on a video interview some time ago.

  2. Thanks for this comprehensive and in depth interview.