Monday, December 19, 2011


Phaedra, 153 x 178 cm,acrylic gouache,
 spray paint & household laquers on canvas, 2010

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I am returning to a larger format landscape canvas which I am trying out some new ideas on.  I have just completed a small work for a show called 100 Mothers curated by Harry Pye and am battling with some canvases that have been challenging me for a while.  I am playing with Helen Frankenthaler inspired wet in wet washes and being more free than normal with formats and outcomes.

Can you describe your working routine?

I don’t have a particular routine although in quite a Gilbert and George fashion the things I do before and after I leave the studio are quite ritualised (usually in terms of food and hot drinks).  I think this helps one deal with the intensity and the unknown that the studio holds.  I start to work as soon as I get in there either with the mundane aspects of the stretching and priming or the projecting and drawing up of the pixels.  When I am in the midst of a painting it can be very fast and frenetic. As they progress and resolving them becomes more elusive, time is spent just sitting and looking. Paintings are faced against the wall when  they feel unresolvable. The studio is very sparse in terms of home comforts just a kettle and little else.

work in progress

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is an Acme space in an old factory building in Deptford (a former ships' propeller foundry), its wonderful there because where it is is pretty desolate so in that way it is quite a haven.  Its rough and ready with patched up broken windows and a very distressed floor. I can make as much mess as I like which is important to me.  It is in what I consider to be a brutal yet beautiful urban environment and this informs my work to a degree.  Although I love it for the solitude I have also been fortunate enough to meet some very interesting other artists there who have been very supportive and inspiring. 

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc

I start my paintings  on an antiquated computer drawing program.  The pixelated lines are carefully edited, projected and drawn with pencil onto the canvas creating a grid or skeleton. This drawing creates a structure that can be disrupted using analogue gesture such as choreographed drips and sprayed marks. The mark making explores the intersection of something that is visceral with something that is controlled and designed.  I use metallic sprays, garage door paint, Japlac high gloss enamels, Hammerite, Japanese acrylic gouache and oil paint.  In some parts the paintings are flat, stark and graphic. In other parts paint drips voluptuously over the drawn lines, breaking the spacial arrangement  and reopening the composition. I imagine the structures are taken to a point of collapse hanging by their own pixelated threads.    

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

Pretty much everything! it’s mentally all consuming at the moment. I feel like my brain is racing ahead and I am trying to catch up with the progress in my thoughts in formal terms.  There is a shift in the work, I am interested in making the work more spare and reductive and focusing more on the romantic element to the paintings.  I am experimenting with new materials and palettes and creating unexplored compositions in terms of the original drawings. 

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I always clung to familiar parameters in terms of materials and was very rigorous about this. I worked always with Japanese Acrylic Gouache, household paints (B&Q garage door paint being a favourite) and montana sprays. Of late however I have opened up to new ways of working and new materials.  I have been working with oil paints for the first time, although I still work with the gouache for wet in wet “grounds”.  I am working with new palettes and have just discovered white gloss paint as opposed to my traditional black.  It feels uneasy to veer away from the familiar but necessary also.

What does the future hold for this work?

I have a sense that it is on the edge of something new, it is unknown but open and full of possibilities. 

 Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you so much for asking me to do this interview.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah 
260 x 169cm, acrylic gouache, spray paint
& household laquers on canvas, 2010

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Wayfarer, oil on canvas, 36 x 36", 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I just finished a couple 36” square paintings. And I’m still digesting them. I hope to do some more of that size but first I am going to shift over to works on paper. Ideally I like to shift back and forth, keeping both surfaces, or ways of working, in the same conversation. Sometimes though, the idea that I know what the conversation is seems contrived. Perhaps the paper, being a different size, substrate and applied with different media should be different? I am less interested in a consistent body of work these days.

Can you describe your working routine?

I always start with a pot of tea tucked under a painting rag like a tea cozy and from there one of the key features to my routine is a battle or dance between focus and distraction. I am attempting to start my painting day with some meditation to help bring a more rooted clarity to my practice but my desire is to straight away pick up a brush and start painting. Anything that gets in the way of that frustrates me. That said, my focused painting periods are rather short. I get distracted. I spend a lot of time in contemplation. I zoom in and out of engagement with the work.

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is a 400 square foot garage in the back yard. There is a 10 by 3 foot table down the middle where most everything ends up, a rolling cart for a pallet and, near the door, some shelves and a small cabinet also with piles on it. There are piles on the floor as well. On rare occasions I clean. The chaos and the order IS the studio. It is ideas building and flowing and a grand excuse for a mess.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

A blank canvas is an opportunity to play. At this point I am not much burdened with what I mean to say. I lay down paint as if it mattered but knowing I will cover it up. It’s an unfettered beginning. I start a new piece with a synthesis of ideas derived from art I see, visual input from walks, abstract notions of chaos and order. I may be aiming toward a certain color or light, a relationship to the edge or a desire to use tape. I don’t think it through much. The big angst is the falling in and out of love along the way. I will fall in love with a color combination layered just so or the way the edges are happening or a texture and t hen I think the painting is done. I’m elated and then some time passes, a day, a week and I can’t understand why I thought the painting was any good. So I paint some more, fall in love again and most likely repeat the same elation and humiliation/defeat. It’s such a crazy ride.

Currently what engages me is an unfinished, vibrant, and clunky beauty. To get there I need to keep the path open ended. I need to have as few rules as I can bear.

Small pink window, tea, ink, flashe on paper, 7 x 7.5", 2010

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

The value of art. The value of my voice. The value of metaphor. The value of the repeated gesture. These things have tremendous value and worth but than again not so much. I’m very interested right now in small, abstract tantric images. I am interested in the backgrounds they used and manipulated, the relationship of the image to mantras, and their ability to jump beyond their cultural context.

I’m having trouble resolving meaning.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain

Working on canvas I usually stick to oils. I think incorporating other materials takes a plan, a calculation. I have to think about what I can do under and over a material. I don’t know what I am going to do next so don’t know if the other material will work. Working on paper my material selection is opened up. I have used tea, flasche, gouache, watercolor, inks, latex, spray paint, sandpaper – anything but oil.

What does the future hold for this work?

A couple of my new paintings are in a December group show and I will have my own show coming up in February both at Gallery IMA in Seattle. It will be a combination of paintings form 2011 and drawings from 1999.

In the studio I could head different directions within the vein I am currently mining. My goal is to keep redirecting my focus, my activity and attention, to the background.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for this opportunity.

One´s part, oil on canvas, 36 x 36", 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Untitled, oil, acrylic, aluminum foil
& dispersion glue on canvas,
40 x 30 cm , 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

In the first paintings of 2011 the subjects were often objects or buildings. I find them fascinating because they contain their own story. In another group of paintings I relied purely on memories from places and events. I don't try to reproduce these recollections directly but endeavor to capture in my studio something that reminds me of the experience. During the last months I have been consumed by recording the effect of time on my work so I have tried to set a kind of timetable in my paintings. In my current works I am interested in what happens on the surface and underneath as it wares away from a treated surface, to raw canvas, to nothing. I am also very interested in the deterioration process of objects, in this case the surface of the canvas and the durability of a contemporary art piece. I'm working on a series of two-dimensional pieces, some of them on canvas, in which in a rational and conscious act, I take advantage of natural and accidental events such as weather, decay, and leaving deposits of earth.

Can you describe your working routine?
There is a difference between my life and the way I approach my work. In my daily life I try to have a routine, this makes me feel good and organized. I like to do something physical in the morning. After breakfast I go jogging, preferably in the woods, on soft ground. I need this contact with the nature. This helps me to concentrate during the afternoon when I work. However when I work I try to avoid order in every possible way. I prefer uncontrollable events or accidents. I try to avoid starting a painting from a point that I already know. A painting could start from a small drawing inspired from a walk through a snow track or from a detail of something I've seen. Forms from nature often influence me. Most of the time I don't have to go very far to find a point of interest. I often find enough inspiration a few steps out the door of my house.

Untitled, colour photography, 2011

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

The most important thing for me is to have a relatively empty space. The melancholia of an empty space appeals to me. There are places where I feel very secure and others where I feel deeply vulnerable however I cannot say which of the two would be better. I find that the studio space indirectly influences the work. A space can change your perception and approach. The space where you work can help to overcome the initial fear of starting, it can also give you the confidence to experiment. The studio space can give you a better understanding of your work and can also allow you to be more critical.

This is a special period in my life because I am a guest in an artist residency program in Leipzig called LIA (Leipzig International Art Program). Here I have a very large space, there are white walls, large windows and facilities to make the working process easier. Working here has been easier in comparison to where I usually work in Milan which is quite hectic or in Belluno which is an isolated place and sometimes uncomfortable. There are no excuses here in Leipzig not to work and no reason to complain.

Untitled, oil, aluminum foil
& dispersion glue on ruined canvas,
 40 x 30 cm , 2011

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

I find it hard to explain my painting approach because in the studio things happen very fast, often in a confusing and random way. The approach in my work can shift rapidly from day to day, even hour to hour. I find it difficult to work for an extended time in the same way. Since I do not use photos, sketches or direct references my starting point is always like diving into icy water. I am interested in the painting process and in how the surfaces are transformed by provoked accidents.

I like to work on different types of paintings simultaneously, with different materials and dimensions, this keeps things fresh and spontaneous. I like to think of my artwork as one continuous research more than a projection of my personality or personal life.  I do not like the idea of an art work as a representation of myself or another person.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

There are so many problems to solve when I work. I often don't know where or how I could start a painting. The problem is whether or not to include some sort of narrative. I ask myself, 'is it still important that a painting has a kind of symbolic value? Is the image still the protagonist of the painting?' Perhaps the most important thing for me is to have an immediate and tactile experience whilst painting. I try to limit my involvement with the painting and to avoid giving the painting any personal references. The work is the result of a process.

Installation view, Crash & Cut Up, studio Cannaviello, Milan

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain    parameters?

I use several different types of materials, every new color and material gives me alternative possibilities. This constant exploration of materials allows for the unexpected to happen. I could probably use alternative mediums like video or performance to create my artwork but I don’t know much about those mediums. I use painting because it is the medium that I am familiar with. 

For example in a recent work I used a kind of textile called non – woven. I found this piece near my village in Italy, in the mountains. This piece retained all kinds of natural residues for more than a decade by being exposed to the elements and time. Nature transforms the surface, the result being a layering of information that has very painterly and abstract aesthetic. This piece is also very fragile, pieces of earth are constantly coming away from the material and the surface will continue to change with time.

Untitled, soil, sand plant debris,
fine particles & acrylic primer on non woven,
mounted on wooden stretcher
each 290 x 190 cm , 2011

What does the future hold for this work?

I feel a little anxious about this subject at the moment because I am in a situation where my work could take any direction, something very unexpected could happen, this feeling both scares and excites me. I would love to be less concerned about this subject. I need to continue to experiment and to further question my work. I think it's important to be open to falling into the unknown and not being afraid. I'd like to push my work even further beyond its limits, for me a medium becomes interesting when we abuse and mistreat it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work!

Untitled, oil & acrylic on canvas, 70 x 50 cm , 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Looking for diesel - found a sleeping coyote,
9 x 12 ", oil on clayboard, 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

I just started a series of larger paintings. I have been working small for the last few years and felt it was time to return to working on a larger scale. I love the intimacy of holding a painting in my hand and being close to the surface and paint, but have missed the more physical experience of working larger.

Can you describe your working routine?

I work on several paintings at once. I have a rack of unresolved paintings, a wall of work in progress, a wall of paintings that are marinating (resting to see if they are finished or not) and a wall of completed work that I am still thinking about and working from.
The first part of my day at the studio is spent drinking coffee, looking at the work and moving things around. A painting that made it to the wall of completed work may end up back in marination or back to the purgatory of the unresolved rack. Starting is often the hardest part and if I just can't face the paintings I will clean, organize, and prepare new surfaces until I find a way in.

studio view

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is in one of the few remaining old buildings near the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I've been in the space for 6 or 7 years and have watched as the old industrial buildings are taken down and replaced with shiny new condos -- the Old Dutch Mustard Company came down brick by brick, and now the Con Ed plant across the way is an empty lot. Living and working in this neighborhood plays a key role in my work. On my walk to the studio I see the East River and Manhattan skyline, the Williamsburg Bridge and the new high-rise buildings. The Domino Sugar Factory looms empty and and dark, and its overgrown yards are littered with piles of pipes and random pieces of garbage. I work with ambient memories and these visual stimuli act as a structure on which to hang my ideas. While painting I often meditate on the passage of time and the resulting deterioration. Williamsburg is a living, breathing example of this constant cycle of destruction and creation and it mirrors my creative process -- building up the canvas then scraping everything away to try to get at some truth or understanding of a larger system at work.

Swarm , 14 x 18 ", oil on clayboard, 2011

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

When I start a painting I don't have any idea what the end result will be -- I follow the painting's lead. They often begin with a color or shape idea that is related to a memory of something I saw, read about or experienced. This can be something as simple as what I had for breakfast or as difficult as the loss of a loved one. If things are going well the associations will continue. Some paintings happen very fast, and others take years to resolve. They often don't make sense to me until well after they are completed. The titles of the paintings are words or phrases that come up while I am working and they are an integral part of the process.

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

It has been challenging to return to the larger canvases. If I am working with difficult subject matter I feel very exposed. 

work in progress wall

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I am predominantly an oil painter, but occasionally other materials make their way in -- scraps of fabric, thread, a page from a book, etc.

What does the future hold for this work?

I can't wait to find out!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for asking me these questions. Writing is an important part of my practice (that I have been neglecting) and it feels good to get my ideas organized. 

Di Suvero Swing,
8 x 10 ", oil on clayboard, 2011