19 February 2014

INTERVIEW: SEBASTIAN BLACK

Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge all works by Sebastian Black, Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels / installation view, photo credits : Mark Woods

The up-and-coming painter and installation artist Sebastian Black stands out in the contemporary art scene: he paints faces of dogs. Puppies, to be more precise. Using this motif over and over again, the 1985 born artist plays with the value of pictorial content and its composition, as well as he articulates a humorous and sharp critique. Black, who lives in New York, answered us some questions about his approach to art and the ways he employs criticism.


Anna-Lena Werner: Sebastian, in the last years you created dozens of 'Puppy Paintings', which usually portray the silhouette of a long-eared dog, while they could also be interpreted as a women's torso. These works have become your strongest trademark. What made you start this series and do you still enjoy painting the same motif?
Sebastian Black: I can't remember why I started. I needed something to paint. Puppy seemed good. Still does. When it doesn't i'll stop.
"Trademark" isn't so interesting to me, but motif is. Or rather, maybe the system of values, norms, etc that the term "trademark" implies trying to usurp or expropriate those of "motif" is a better question. And come to think of it, what is it that "motif" attempts to regulate? I like "motif", because it's just a pictorial device. It can be either overflowing with signifcance or totally empty. Depends on the angle. Kind of holographic in that way. Like a special edition trading card.

Anna: You once mentioned a sort of 'recipe' for the 'Puppy Paintings'. How does it look like? 
Sebastian: There are really loads of recipes, here is one i used before:
There was once a man with no arms (nose, mouth). Bees were chasing him (dots) so he hid in a cave (muzzle). He died and was buried at a graveyard (eyes). There were holes in the gravestones (pupils) and all of the man’s family attended the funeral (head). They cried a river of tears (ears).
[Note: find a youtube clip below]

Anna: Lately you have increased the deconstruction of the dogs' faces almost into an abstract painting, reminding of cubism – are you planning to deconstruct it even further in the future?
Sebastian: Naaaa. Construction is hard enough. Deconstruction can take care of itself.  That said, I  do like language...

Anna: In both, your paintings and your texts, you seem to employ the particular medium to express a humorous self-doubt towards its own genres. Is there a sincere critique linked to the humorous level – and if so: What motivates you to express this criticism?
Sebastian: Imagine there is an object – this can be a network, a city, an idea, ideology, etc.  Besides the litany of ironies, there are two sincere poses to adopt in relation to it. Imitation, which we know is the sincerest form of flattery, and humor, which is the sincerest form of criticism. I prefer the latter.

Anna: In your recent exhibitions you have included a number of sculptural works, such as "Parable of the wearable", a minimalist translation of the puppy face on top of a pastel silk top, or "Placeholder" a bag-in-box wine, covered by white painted cardboard. How does the process of creating an object differ from the process of creating a painting for you?
Sebastian: The box wine are basically paintings, but their content is the wine and their good taste is the wine. The clothes are collaborative works made with India Donaldson. The idea is very basic, and expressly NOT a critique of fashion – whatever that would mean.... Someone said, that when social relations are reified, humans beings begin impersonating the inert. I think these were like costumes for that impersonation.

Sebastian Black is represented by C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels -> http://c-l-e-a-r-i-n-g.com/
artist website -> http://sebblack.net/

Upcoming exhibitions with Sebastian Black:
Zero, Milano (IT) / Group Show
queer thoughts, Chicago (US) / with india donaldson
Retrospective Gallery, Hudson, New York (US) / Solo
Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles (US) / with Koenraad Dedobbeleer


Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge Sebstian Black_Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels_featured on artfridge all works by Sebastian Black, Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York, Brussels / installation view, photo credits : Mark Woods

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