lunedì 13 giugno 2011

Interview with Neal Turner

q)Please tell us your name and where you practice.

a) My name is Neal Turner( I work in Nice, France.

q) Why do you make art?

a)I like the process of creation, and the idea that it necessarily involves destruction.

q) How do you work ?

a)I paint in the morning, beginning early, and continue until late afternoon because I like to work with daylight and find that my head is clearer in the morning. As the day progresses, my ability to concentrate decreases.

q) What´s your background?

a)I was born in Miami, Florida, in 1964, received a Masters in International Relations, concentrating on Political Theory, from the University of South Florida, in Tampa in 1995 and moved to France that same year. I've been living in France since then.

q) What role does the artist have in society ?

a)I don't believe art can change society. I do believe that art serves society as a record or a memory, and that art can sometimes offer a glimpse into a fuller or more complete image of society, that it can sometimes approach a truth, and that, at the best of times, art can fill an emptiness. I think that if an artist is able to achieve any of these, he or she has fulfilled their role.

q) What was a seminal experience for you ?

a)I have been lucky to have had many. The first specific seminal experience that comes to mind what the first time I visited Paris.

q) Has your practice changed over time ?

a)It hasn't really changed that much. I still work the same way I did fifteen years ago, when I started painting full time.

q) What art do you most identify with ?

a)This has changed over time. Over the past few years, I have become more and more fascinated with figurative painting.

q) What´s your strongest memory of your childhood ?

a)The first thing that comes to mind is a memory of me running after my dog in the evening, at sunset. I chased the dog around our house. I was eight years old. It was getting dark, and I ran into a tree. It knocked me out. I awoke a few minutes later, dazed, the dog laying beside me. I didn't feel like myself and the light was orange. That's all I remember. Later, I was told that I walked into our house, said goodnight to my parents and went to bed. I've never been sure if the part about waking up and the light being orange was a real memory or a dream.

q) What themes do you pursue ?

a)The themes I mentioned in the question about the role of the artist in society, to serve as a memory, to offer a glimpse of a more complete image of society, to approach a truth, to fill an emptiness.

q) Describe a real life experience that inspired you.

a)I was sixteen years old and asked my father if he had any ideas for a summer job because I wanted to buy a used car. He called a friend and that monday I had a job in a recycling factory. I arrived at work at eight in the morning and was given a snow shovel and shown a square hole in the wall. This was in a huge metal building, in the middle of summer and like a greenhouse it seem to hold the heat. Trucks soon arrived and began dumping empty soda cans onto the floor until there was a mountain of cans. My job was to shovel the cans into the square hole in the wall, where they fell into a machine that chewed them up into tiny pieces so they could be melted and recycled. If I stopped shoveling, the machine made a horrendous noise, so I had to keep it full of cans to stop the noise. As I shoveled, more trucks came and dumped more cans onto the mountain. I stood in the cans, shoveling, not even making a dent in the mountain. Soon I learned that I had to tie string around my pants at my ankles, to stop the roaches from crawling up my legs, because the mountain was full of roaches feeding on the syrup left in the cans. In the afternoon, when my shift was over, an old man with tattoos all over his arms and chest came and replaced me for the nightshift. Each morning, when I arrived, the mountain was gone, and then the trucks came again. At the end of the summer, I bought a used car.

q) What´s your most embarrassing moment ?

a)I'm not really easily embarrassed. When I was six years old we lived in a duplex, in a neighborhood where all the houses looked exactly alike. I was running home. I ran up the driveway and into my house, ran straight into the living room, only to find a bunch of people I had never seen before sitting there staring at me. I froze, wide-eyed, starring at them for a moment before it hit me. I had run into the wrong house. I turned abruptly and ran out. I imagine that they all had a good laugh!

q) What jobs have you done other than being an artist ?

a)Other then the recycling job, I've worked in a Mexican fast food restaurant, as a bartender in a hotel bar, for a newspaper in the ad department checking copy for the next days publication, and as an assistant to a professor when I was in graduate school.

q) What responses have you had to your work ?

a)I have had the most amazing responses to my work. People have been extremely kind, and thanks to the internet I have been able to show my work to a large number of people. The responses have been and continue to be amazing.

q) What do you dislike about the artworld ?

a)I don't really dislike anything about the artworld. Everyone knows that there is some degree of corruption due to the large sums of money involved at the high end, but that is a general statement that would fit any profession. There is also a need to sell, to make money, and this contributes to a certain amount of inflexibility where galleries are concerned, but that is nothing new, and the need to make money is true of every profession, and I think that the average life of a gallery is one year, so they have a tough time of it as well. It requires a lot of work and some luck, and before the internet existed it was even more difficult, so the internet has given artists opportunities that never existed. Because of these opportunities the artworld is changing, I believe for the better. As long as I am able to continue to paint and research and progress and make a living, I am happy.

q) What research do you do ?

a)A lot of my research is visual and consists of trying to see things I hadn't noticed before in painting, but also in the world around me. A lot of it consists of reading about art theory and history, and about what is happing in the contemporary art world.

q) What is your dream project ?

a)I don't really have a dream project. I just want to continue working and one day, look back and smile.

q) What´s the best piece of advice you have been given ?

a)You are only as good as your word.

q) What couldn’t you do without?

a)My family.

q) What makes you angry?


q) What is your worst quality?

a)I am sometimes detached from what is happening around me.

q) Dogs or Cats ?


q) Making art is a lot like being on lsd. Know what I mean ?

a)Okay. Maybe, though I have found that while paining, if everything is going well, I forget who I am, where I am, what I am doing. I lose myself in the work. In this way I believe it is less like a "trip" and more like a form of meditation.

q) What does “ copy” mean to you ?

a)To reproduce the work of others without adding anything new, without transforming it into something new.

q) What´s your favorite cuss word ?


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