Sunday, March 6, 2016

Now here, nowhere: An Interview with Tim Tozer by Lisha Kirpalani

1. Would you tell me the process of your paintings and how you see them existing in the world?

The paintings are made with acrylic and spray paint, wet over wet to create layers that can be peeled or sliced. Because the process is quite physical and the illusionistic space within the paintings is restricted, I want them to feel somewhat like objects rather than windows onto another world. However, there is enough ambiguity in the scale of the forms depicted that the paintings have a pictorial space separate from the one they inhabit as objects. 

Black Hand, 2016 (Triptych)

2. Your work seems to have changed significantly just in the last year. How do you view the work at SooVAC in terms of representation and abstraction?

I’ve been oscillating between abstraction and figuration for a number of years. Having just completed a body of figurative painting for my show at the Groveland Gallery last year, it felt right to do something different. Both sides of my work inform each other, and ultimately they are both forms of representation. There are received and invented forms in both, and the tension that exists between them is the place I try to operate as an artist. Whatever the subject matter, painting is essentially abstract; it’s simply a question of emphasis or the baggage one brings as a viewer that decides the way in which a painting can be read.

Black Mass III, 2016

3. How do you come up with inspiration/ideas/concepts for your work?

I try not to make anything with a preconceived idea or concept. I have many sketchbooks that provide the fuel for a lot of my work, I take photos and look around me; this is the visual nourishment I need. I need forms for my imagination to feed on, and the ideas I pursue develop from the process of making.

4. What does your studio look like? What is your studio routine?

I work in my garage, which I converted to a studio a few years ago. Generally, it feels too small and too dark, but it’s convenient. I’m always grateful that I can duck out of the house and work when time allows. This sometimes means before my children get up, or after they go to bed. Once I’m in the studio, I listen to music, drink coffee and stare at the work, breaking this routine up with bouts of frantic painting.

5. What are some distractions in your studio?

I try to keep those out. Besides, there’s no room.

6. When do you consider work finished? Is there a planned outcome?

Black Mass IV, 2016
Completing a work is difficult; it can happen quickly or it can take months. Sometimes it never happens. I paint in order to avoid plans, and I’ve become skeptical of outcomes that can be predicted in advance. Completing a work is usually a surprise, and occurs when the work refuses any further discussion. If it’s a successful outcome, I immediately don’t know how I arrived at the 

7. You seem to be exploring a new process, could you take me through how these paintings have come to be?

I’ve been experimenting with what acrylic and spray paint can do for some time, trying to find a way these materials can keep the qualities that make them so distinct from oil paint; I wanted to exploit their synthetic character, using it to make surfaces that are simultaneously graphic and unstable. I’ve been pouring liquid acrylic over panels, then spray painting over that; the spray paint dries quickly while the paint beneath remains wet. This means the upper layer can be cut into and peeled away. When hung on a wall, the remaining shapes slowly migrate towards the ground, buckling the surface and rearranging the composition in unpredictable ways. All these states of matter and movement felt like rich metaphors to me.  

Untitled, 2015

8. What is the reason and significance of reducing your color palette?

I love color, and have always been obsessed with its interaction in painting. I eschewed it for this work as part of the process of letting go, stripping down and distilling. An earlier work in the show (‘Untitled’) uses grey, as well as whites of different temperature, and allows for an atmosphere within the space. I eventually rejected this direction as I wanted all forms to feel more compressed, and the unequivocal contrast between black and white provided that.

9. Has the interplay between your work and Mike Calway-Fagen’s work affected how your view your work? What do you think of this juxtaposition?

Mike’s work deals with direct and somewhat unpredictable interactions between him, his work and the world it occupies. There’s an unmediated quality to it that cuts through aesthetic consideration in a way, although I think it’s highly visual. I think there are strong parallels between the intentional and accidental aspects of my work and, say, a pile of scrap that’s been documented and reconstructed. I want some of the paintings to feel as though I’ve vandalized a perfectly good painting underneath, which never occurred to me until I saw my work next to Mike’s.

Installation View of No here, nowhere

10. Does your experience as a professor influence the way you work?

Always, although I try to keep my teaching voice on mute when I work. The painting should be a step ahead of what I’m able to communicate through teaching.