Paul Wackers Interview - Fecal Face

Kristin Bauer, Fecal Face, February 20, 2013

Paul Wackers has an exhibition of all new paintings up at New Image Art Gallery in LA from February 16th to March 30th. He sheds some light on his inspiration, creative process, new work and his experience of being an artist in NY in this interview with Kristin Bauer.

"Early Romantics" Paul Wackers at New Image Art Gallery
Feb. 16- Mar. 30, 2013
7920 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046

Tell me about your most recent work we will be seeing in Early Romantics at New Image? How has it evolved from your previous work?

I will be showing about 12 new paintings all made since the beginning of 2013, so pretty quickly. One is the largest painting I've ever made which was really fun to do. The rest are a mix of objects in the landscape and very paired down still lifes or almost abstract compositions. I think this show is a really good follow up from my show at Alice gallery in Brussels last year. So continuing to build a bit off an internal narrative for the work and some parameters from my subjects to exist within and seeing where it goes from there.


Your paintings have a sense of capturing the magic in the mundane objects and moments in daily life. What is your process of working this way? Would you say it's more of a process of infusing energy into the ordinary, or seeing beneath the surface of the everyday and expanding on what's already there?

Yeah, I think that is all in the work, but the work is rarely from direct observation. It's more like a kind of assumption of what something is and that leads to being open to the possibilities within anything. I know that's pretty cheesy, but when you spend 7 days a week in your studio the regular stuff around you and your walks there get really interesting. Funny bits of trash or strange trees and blandness become stages for things to happen. Being able to expand on the boring bit to see how it might be something unique is a hard thing, but a worthwhile search I think. But maybe ask me tomorrow and I won't see anything in it. It's all in the moment.


In your work there's an interaction and a sense of tension between meticulous detailed areas and looser more abstract elements- almost a play between order and chaos. How do you feel order and chaos, or other polarities, present in your process and final imagery?

I like to play with those ideas in some of the paintings. Its strange that what I might see as just background noise that is easy to ignore because it has no focus, other people see chaotic stuff. I love how every person reads them so differently. That's why I usually like to let people tell me what they see before I say what I think is going on, since it is that play and disconnect that I love. If I give away my intention too soon then the person looking usually just ends at that, but when it stays ambiguous I think it remains interesting and the discussion can begin after that. But that being said, sometimes I will try to make images that I think can't possibly work, and then they start to click and I have a whole new thing to explore. So I guess finding some disharmony has been very beneficial to my process.

Do you begin your paintings with a final image in mind or are you more about watching what develops in the process of painting?

I rarely have a complete picture in my mind for the finished paintings, I mostly have a feeling of how I want it to move or a compositional problem I want to try to solve. But they often change drastically once I start working on them and just move from one issue to the next until I feel satisfied with the shape of it.


What kinds of things inspire and inform your work in this show?

I think with this show I kind of tried to keep my influences internal, I did not budget my time on it so well so the paintings really had to inform each other. I tried to tease out the subjects from the forms in other paintings and then see how they worked or failed in different situations. I did not actively reference much outside of my studio, just my rocks and plants and ceramics that I have around me as a source. But with the few paintings that are in the landscape I think it was an attempt to remember summer, since my studio had no working heat this winter. I think those were a success since I got through some really cold days.

You were living and working in SF for a long time. How has living in NY changed your experiences as an artist?

Yeah I was in SF for 9 years I think, it was a great time and I go back as often as I can. Every thing there was so relaxed so it was a great place to just try to figure out what i wanted to do with out thinking of a bigger picture like the future. Unfortunately, I think that city is in another tricky transition with another wave of tech money. We will have to wait and see how that works out, but I don't think it's going to survive how I knew it. But that's life I guess. So now, yeah I'm in New York where it's hectic all the time- people and stuff everywhere, it was a crazy transition but it's been really good. Being able to see and meet so many different artists and other kinds of people has been great. It feels like a city that just makes you work harder, partly because if you don't you might not make it, but also because that's kind of the fun of it. Just seeing where things go and waiting to see what sticks. It's a funny place and hard to describe what its done for my work.

Are you working on any other exhibitions or projects that we can watch for after your show Early Romantics at New Image?

Yes, I have a solo show coming up in May in Toronto at Narwhal Art Projects that should be really fun. I'm looking forward to visiting Canada. The clothing line No.6 from NYC used one of my paintings as a print on silk, which they made a few pieces from in their Spring 2013 line, so I look forward to seeing people wearing one of my paintings. There are a few other unformed projects in the works so we will see, I'm sure I will keep busy.