domenica 18 novembre 2012

Interview with Jay Zerbe

q)For the people who don't know your work - how would you describe it ?

a) My work is abstract but not cerebral. I tend toward painterly, even calligraphic mark-making, but I keep the surface fairly flat. My work is basically about two things: space, and color. There is generally a landscape but sometimes an interior feel to the pieces, although nothing is recognizable. Nor can any static view be arrived at. Everything is in flux. There is a constant visual flow through the pieces, so your eye is entertained by a journey that never ends. The color is generally intense enough to grab your attention, while still being non-abrasive (usually). The color is the emotional soul of each piece.

q)What are the key themes running through your practice?

a) The unknowable, sense memory, pleasure, puzzles.

q)Your favorite place on earth?

a) My studio of course! I have a great studio now in the country, with lots of light, and view of neglected weed-filled fields. A nearly-constant breeze keeps everything moving. An ocean of vegetation.

q)What influences your work?

a) My collage work, which is quite a bit different from my painting practice, and the world I see around me. I have lived in dense cities most of my life, and have recently moved to the country. I see a lot of influence for both of those environments in my work. Obviously, more natural/organic forms are appearing in the newer work. Even though I don't do actual landscape painting/drawing, the landscape (or cityscape) around me enters my vision, gets processed somehow, and comes out in the paintings.

q)What music are you into right now?

a) My taste runs predominantly to 20th/21st century classical that tends toward the progressive and post-tonal. Favorite composers are Thomes Adès, John Adams, Giacinto Scelsi, György Ligeti, Kaija Saariaho, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, and Steven Mackey just to name a few. But I also like jazz with a mid-century feel, and '80's punk. They all get shuffled together on my iPod. The unpredictable shifts between genres keep me awake.

q)Describe your thought & design process...

a) I occasionally start a canvas from a collage. In that case, I start a "portrait" of the collage piece, focusing particularly on the overall structure, and the relationship of tonal areas. Mostly, I put a background color down, to get rid of the white, and just start "imagining" into the space. I'm a very intuitive painter, although I spend a lot of time stepping back to see what is working and what is not working. "Working" for me means that the basic composition is strong (based on the values of larger areas), and that I am not fracturing/fragmenting the composition too much. I also control the color quite carefully. I'm more conscious of color control toward the ending of the piece, when I really want to see a world of color where nothing is too distracting, and all-over the piece is not a dull monotone. I do have favorite colors (green, purple-brown), but I work at getting a wide variety of color palettes into my work. Much more challenging that way. And I do enjoy a challenge!

q)Which emerging artists are you looking forward to seeing more of?

a) That depends on how you define "emerging". If an artist has "emerged" enough for me to see their work published in an art magazine, even just a review, are they still just "emerging"? If I have only seen someone's work on Facebook, and they have only shown sporadically without getting reviewed, are they "emerging"? In either case, here is a small list: Elliott Green, Suzanne Ulrich, Cecil Touchon, Amy Sillman, Olav Christopher Jenssen, Rebecca Michaelis, Albert Oehlen, Gary Stephen, Joanne Greenbaum, Charline Von Heyl, Iva Gueorguieva, Laura Sharp Wilson, Eve Aschheim, and Sammy Peters. Non of them (except Touchon) are Facebook friends. I really don't want to discourage any FB friends by not mentioning them. And, since I am always judgmental, I would.

q)Favorite place on the internet?

a) The place i go to most often is Facebook. I enjoy seeing the work of other artist friends, as well as the work they post of non-facebook artists whose work they enjoy. It is amazing to me how many quality artists are working today. Perhaps this was always true, but now we have to means to know them and track their progress.

q)Do you have any upcoming projects/exhibitions we should know about?

a) I've had a busy year this year. 2013 may get busy, but all that I know about at this time is a solo show at Purdue University (NC) that opens in January. I have also just published a book of my collages with a forward by Phillip Larrimore, which was just was released on, but should be available on in a few weeks. I'm quite excited about that!

q)Tell us something we don't know - but should...

a) I think about death a lot. That is not (I think) apparent in my work. Most people perceive my work as joyful and hopeful (which it is!). But the whole process of making art for me is a process of experiencing the ecstatic before my light is snuffed out.

q) Where can people see more of your work on the internet?

a) You can see my work on my own website,, and also on the websites of the galleries that carry my work:,, and And of course, Facebook.