November 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021
Arts + Leisure, New York, NY
By NOAH BECKER November 5, 2020
When in New York City, Freight + Volume is the main space on the LES to visit. Uptown it's Arts + Leisure - a kind of smaller project space but with equally potent exhibitions. Both spaces feature new artists and more established artists. The art dealer Nick Lawrence runs both spaces - Nick has one of the best eyes in the art business. The current exhibition at Arts + Leisure is the painter Jared Deery, certainly an artist worth watching. Here are my questions for the painter...
Noah Becker: How do you think about color when you make paintings?
Jared Deery: Color is perplexing as it holds so much visual, conceptual weight in my process and my finished paintings. It is the driving force behind how I make and begin to connect, construct, negotiate, and finish a painting. Whatever decisions are made, color is a consideration. Color breaks things apart and brings things together. Color can hold conceptual or emotional value the way it does in advertising, or formally bring things forward or backward on the picture plane in the way Hans Hoffman might describe it. Color enhances the rhythm or pattern inside a motif - as it does in Self Taught, Visionary or Aboriginal art. It could be the heavenly light of the color rainbow described by Newton or the humanized grounding of color described by Goethe. Whatever form it takes on at first, it inevitably embodies the deconstruction and reconstruction of each painting aspect.
Truthfully, in all my love for all things color, I don't think about it when I am making a painting - I can't think about it. Because despite the history of its theories, I believe that color needs to be felt not just in the eye but in the body, in that moment in the making and the process. It is one color choice in relation to another color choice that gives the painting its meaning. Julia Kristeva said that “Color is the shattering of unity.”
Becker: How do you know when it works?
Deery: I have never planned a painting that works. I have an idea, and I try to do it. Very quickly, I find a problem. Then I make a choice. Sometimes I'll put a color down, and the painting will stop and sleep for a very long time before I can understand how to wake it up again. I have to be very present when I choose a color, and it needs to resonate beyond that moment and to mimic, echo, and predict different aspects within the painting.
Becker: What do you feel makes for a good painting or series of works?
Deery: Im not a perfectionist - I'm often looking to be surprised by what I make. I sometimes think of my paintings as strange types of alchemical experiments made by a kind of monkish neo-medival amateur scientist obsessed with studying vegetal mutations created in a not to distant toxic wilderness. I typically start each painting with a very open-ended idea of what I want to say. Repetition plays an essential role in finding a type of balance in the work similar to therapy or exercise might for the mind and body. I'll make paintings repeatedly with thousands of the same marks racing through them, all performing in different ways. It can feel like a type of grand exploration searching for a very fleeting tiny moment captured and recaptured again and again by different people.
Becker: People always want to know how an artist can tell if a painting is finished?
Deery: Often I know something is finished when I've exhausted every option I can imagine for the painting when it stops talking back to me or I stop listening. I make art to learn and explore my psyche, so it's through the process that I let the painting help to guide me to some resolve. I'm usually looking for a regenerative force and often feel semi-ritualistic about my process of painting. That ritual helps me define success within the work. But success, for me, needs to be defined outside of any ideology. It needs to be personal, meaningful, and necessary. I trust that honesty will show up and be present in the work if I can be honest with myself. It's essential that if I have a primary and clear idea of what I want to paint, I find a way not to know what I’m doing and in that not knowing try to create a type of knowledge that’s physical and not intellectual.
Becker: Do you find inspiration in literature or film?
Deery: Yes, very much so. I tend to try and take inspiration from where ever I can. I have made two separate short films so far, both 16mm, that I have shown in different installations along with my paintings over the years, and I hope to make more. My father studied and made films that were significantly influenced by Stan Brakhage. So I grew up around the ideas of films being very DYI and outside of Hollywood's realm. I also grew up watching Noir and Classics a lot, which I think stayed with me. I still enjoy Maya Deren, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Kenneth Anger very much. Im always searching for ways to relate narrative image-making to my paintings, and the process of time is endlessly fascinating. Films can compromise different series of images in a way that painting can't. I guess in that way, I see a show as more like a film than a singular painting is.
Becker: I read Jodorowsky's autobiography and totally love his films - especially The Holy Mountain. What have you been reading?
Deery: I read mostly poetry and nonfiction. I also tend when I read to take notes in a separate notebook. My notes help me construct a fictional framework for my thoughts that I usually try and apply to my paintings - nonsensically and entirely out of context. This can help me dig deeper into my subconscious, hopefully pulling out images and meanings I might not have known were there. In the past, I have also used the writings of specific poets I've fell in love with, like Cesare Pavese, to help construct meaning around installations of my work. The relationship between poetry and image-making is crucial because it allows me to get closer to a felt truth versus a factual one. And not many other forms of knowledge can do that for me.
Becker: Are there any current artists that you love, or are you more interested in historical art?
Deery: I'm very interested in historical art and even pre-historical art. I am obsessively looking at and referencing it, but I'm alive today. I can be obsessive about what I read, study, research, and what I think about when I'm alone. So for me talking with artists about what they go through day to day to make art, what they think about, what they see, all the ups and downs that go into being human and how those change you before and after you enter the studio is what I love. You can't find that in a book because it hasn't been written yet...
Becker: I agree but I mean could you specifically name some artists?
Deery: There are so many good artists alive today, and this season has been great so far - especially after being locked up for so long. I've recently been looking and thinking about Walter Price, Kai Althoff, Amy Sillman, Nora Riggs, Caroll Dunham, Jennifer Sullivan, Brian Calvin, John Mcallister, Thorton Dial and so many more. But more than anything, I look at the work of those closest to me and those around me like J.J. Manford, Elisa Soliven, Domenico Zindato, and Alessandro Teoldi. With them, the work feels more alive because I find myself more engaged in their thoughts and processes, their struggles, as well as their success and failures. That engagement somehow means more to me. WM
Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023.
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