GAVIN BUNNER INTERVIEW
by Jessica Wimbley
whitehot magazine of contemporary art,
Chicago Painter Gavin Bunner, uses Google to create post modern surrealist narratives. He joins a generation of artists having to deconstruct American visual culture newly indicted with imagery of the information age. Through appropriation, narrative, surrealism, pop art, nostalgia, humor and painting, Bunner negotiates ideas of American culture and identity. Bunner speaks of the process in which we both create and use visual culture, how he feels about American culture, and what makes a good painting.
Wimbley: In your image search process, what relationships do you find between popular culture and the information age?
Bunner: What the Information age has done is expand the understanding of our popular culture. With so much information online images from a hundred years ago are as accessible and as understood as images that were taken yesterday. Google also lets anyone put pictures of themselves or anyone else on the Internet. So, someone can find pictures of Marilyn Monroe and a Nobody all in the same search (just like reality TV). This way a long haired artist in
can print them and combine them in a narrative and make a painting out of that combination. Having that understanding allows me to know how to combine disparate icons together to make a cohesive and humorous narrative. The information age has made it easier to find the images we are looking for, and to have access to so many more images than were ever available before. With so many images available it is no wonder that pop art would begin to resurface as the only movement that can truly express our post modern age.
Wimbley: What in American culture and your experience being in IL impact the images you choose to use in your work?
Bunner: I am a fan of American culture, so I don't mock it at all in my work. Instead I embrace it and hope my work will contribute to it further. The original pop artists were making their work in response
to the new availability of mass produced magazines and television. Peter Blake is my favorite of the 60's pop artists because he is fan of pop culture, not a criticizer; and because of this his works
contain a sincerity and longevity that other pop artists, like Richard Hamilton, lack. All the scenes I pick for the Gouache Bomb painting are scenes that are common in American culture and are scenes that
make the settings for most of our literature and cinema, such as Cornfield, Train, Prairie, and Highway. Being an American, this is the culture I know and love: an artist has to make art about what they know and love; otherwise they are a liar, and artists' never lie.
Wimbley: Why use painting as a medium to comment on the information age? How is painting relevant for you?
Bunner: No matter how advanced digital and computer technologies get, people are always going to want to see the effect of human touch. We don't want things that are perfect, it's too unnatural. We can intellectually justify the use of a drum machine but it will never be as good as a human drummer, because your drum machine is the same as all drum machines, it has no personality defined by its flaws, and therefore has nothing for an audience of flawed people to identify with. Part of what I would like my work to do is give painting that same mainstream attraction and understandability which comic strips and cartoons have. Paintings need to be able to establish that strong of a connection with their audience, so that people can immediately get something out of a painting again; without having to know the entire history of painting. At the same time however a good painting must have many layers; expansion of the language of painting being one of them. Painters that are unaware of the linage they are entering will ultimately run into a dead end.
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In addition to Jessica Wimbley's role as Associate Director of Tinlark
Gallery in Hollywood, CA, Wimbley is also a practicing artist and
scholar who has exhibited and lectured throughout the US and abroad.
Wimbley received her BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of
Design and her MFA in visual arts from University of California,
Davis. Wimbley lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.