Monday, March 28, 2011

PAUL BEHNKE

Hektor´s Cut, acrylic on canvas, 43 x 42 inches, 2011


What are you working on in your studio right now?

I’m currently taking a break from larger canvases to focus on small paintings on paper. On the more disposable surface I’m able to trick myself and be more relaxed.  Color and transparency are becoming more important and the edges of the work are starting to play a more definite role.


Can you describe your working routine?

I paint every day but don’t have a regular starting time. I’m almost always in the studio by noon and work until about six. More of the day is probably spent looking than actually painting.



                                                                work in progress


Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My new space is in a Brooklyn neighborhood called Greenpoint.  I share it with three other artists (space is at a premium in New York!) and it’s housed in a large building of artists’ studios called the Pencil Factory. I’m not aware that the space I work in ever exerts any undo influence on my painting, except I tend to be more productive when I’m around other artists working.



work in progress


Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.


I have no preconceived image or colors in mind when I begin a piece.  I just reach for what looks good and put it on the canvas. After a while I stop to consider what I have. If a composition has presented itself right away I continue working and the painting may be finished quickly. In this case, the final surface is smooth and thin. More often than not things don’t go so quickly and I end up painting, scraping away and repainting for days at a time before I arrive at something that is working. Then the surface will be very built up, clotted and at times, off-putting. I generally work on more than one painting at a time, so when I’m stuck, I can move on to something else. My painting process is concerned with formal aspects. It is only after the fact that I can start to decipher imagery and any personal symbology that may be present. I’m not interested in sharing any interpretations of forms with the viewer.





studio


What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I think color has always been difficult for me.  I tend to become involved with high key colorists like the German Expressionists, the Fauves and some of the Neo-Expressionists from the 1980’s.
It’s difficult finding color combinations that produce a sense of anxiety, garishness or uncertainty without the work being misinterpreted by an unsophisticated viewer as happy and joyful. But maybe I put too much responsibility on the viewer and as I continue to become better at my job it will cease to be an issue.



Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

From the time I began making non-objective work I found it necessary or natural to work within self- imposed parameters. For years I worked only in blacks and whites using one form and the grid to build my compositions.  After a while I began to chaff at those restrictions and more elements were slowly introduced. For me, this is the crux of good painting- the powerful contrast of the need for boundaries with the need to go beyond them. But not only go beyond the self imposed rules in increments---to need the parameters, and yet want at the same time, to exceed them by miles and miles. The tension created around a need to include everything and nothing is what keeps the act of painting interesting and relevant for me.





studio


What does the future hold for this work?

I have two exhibits coming up. The first is a summer group show at the Heidi Cho Gallery in Manhattan and then a solo show in 2012 at the Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia. So that’s always in the back of my mind as I work and a lot of what I’m painting now will end up in one of these two shows.



5 comments:

  1. this interview and layout complements your current work. nicely done. you let us in just enough to want more. Hektor is a quick sharp introductory image.what's in its name Paul?(Jovian trojan asteroid?)

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  2. Thank you for sharing Paul.
    I am looking forward to your solo show at Rosenfeld.

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  3. This is pretty great, paul...

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  4. Don't you drop paint on your carpet?...Your studio's so clean!

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  5. I recently saw your work on Two Coats of Paint's Images page. I'm like it very much. We seem to share a compositional sensibility.

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