venerdì 22 agosto 2008

Interview with Chris Vicini

q)What is your name?

a)Chris Vicini

q) Where do you live and work?

a)I live and work in Gothenburg Sweden, I was born and raised in the United States. I have been living in Sweden for about two years now.

q)What is your creative process like?

a)It changes; there are a lot of variables, like, size of the project, material, and so on. Basically I want to feel pretty confident I am going to be successful before I start. If I am working with a material I’m not so familiar with; I will read all I can, and then make some tests. If the project requires representational forms ( my work often does ), then I will try to get as much reference material as I can, and then do sketch’s. The last step would be to create a small model. More and more I have been relying on small notebooks for keeping sketches and ideas. I don’t think I would ever consider presenting them, they feel to personal, but they help refine my ideas.
The process of making the actual sculpture depends on the material, and can vary a lot. I would say that most of work requires a degree of direct modelling and casting.

q)What is your favourite medium?

a)These days I am working mostly with porcelain. It is a very temperamental material, I loose a lot of work to cracking and warping, but it is also stunning to see, and to touch. Wet porcelain is so tactile, it’s really quite seductive. I enjoy working with softer materials, clay, plaster, wax, gum, anything, I can get my hands involved in, but in the end it really depends on what material will serve the idea best.

q)What is your current favourite subject?

a)In the broadest sense I draw most of my positive inspiration from Nature, Science, and Art. Religion has also had a strong affect on me, but I would have to say the experience was largely a negative one.
In my last exhibition, transformation was overwhelming theme, the work was for the most part, inspired by Ovid’s “The Metamorphoses”. I certainly thought a lot about transformation in the mystical, and metaphorical sense the way Ovid intended, but I was also very interested in transformation as related to natural selection.

q)How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

a)It varies a lot, size and material are big factors here. The last piece I made took about six weeks to make. It is made of porcelain, and it is a sculpture of an enormous hare calmly transmutating into a cluster of crystals.
I this case I was working in a very traditional way of sculpture making. First I made a small model, then a simple armature, and then building up the forms with clay. When you’re working with several hundred pounds of wet clay, there is only so much you can do in a work period, and then you have to wait till the material is ready for the next step. Once the modelling was finished I allowed the clay to harden up enough so that it had some integrity, but was still pliable. At this point I cut the sculpture into segments, and removed the armature. Then I began to remove excess material from the inside, until all that remained was a hollow skin several centimetres thick. The segments were then reunited so that the piece looks exactly as before, but is actually a hollow shell. The first firing took two days. It went slowly in order to release water and resist cracking.

q)What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

a)Well, I became a father about a year and a half ago, and I feel that I had to learn, and change a lot to be a good Father to my daughter. In terms of my Art, though, I have been working on a public project called the “The Everlasting Sunflowers” for over two years now. I don’t know that I can actually call it an accomplishment, because it’s not finished yet, but I’m quite excited about it. When finished it will be a garden of sunflowers, made of aluminium, that have been cast from the flowers which grew in the place they will be installed. It’s a strange kind of re-incarnation.
All the castings are done now, and I we have begun to re-articulate the different pieces. It’s a lot of work, but they look fantastic. I tried to represent as much of the life cycle of the flowers as I could. The largest are over six feet tall.
It’s also the first time that I have consistently used assistants. It forced me to let go, a little bit, and it allowed me to do a great deal of work, in a fairly short time.

q)Are there any contemporary artists that you love?

a)I really like Roxy Paine, Marc Quinn, Kiki Smith, and David Altmejd. I’ve realized that I tend to gravitate towards artists who make craftsmanship and attention to detail an important part of their work.

q)Can we buy your art anywhere?

a)Well Generally, I sell my work through exhibitions. I will have work at the Rohsshka Museum in Gothenburg Sweden this January, and I will have a solo exhibition in Malmo Sweden this fall. I also deal directly with collectors, and do commissions from time to time.

q)Anything that people should know about that we don’t??

a)Hmmm… Reading is fun, life is finite, the universe is expanding.

q)What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?

a)Nothing beats Practice. The more time you can dedicate to being in the studio the better. Also, do as much research as you can. The web makes it very convenient. Working a san assistant can be a great if you find the right person.
q)What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I’m a pretty compulsive worker, so my strategy tends to be (work through it). Reading a great book, or seeing a good exhibition, can be really uplifting and inspirational. There is no magic cure that I am aware of, for getting through a rough spell.

q)How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?

a)That’s probably the thing I like least about being an artist. It always feels artificial, so I try to approach it indirectly. I talk about what ideas I’m thinking about in my work, and what is really inspiring me at the time. Some people are more interested in the concept, while others are more process oriented. They are both strong aspects of my work, and I can direct the conversation towards their particular interest.

q)What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?

a)I have had a good deal of training, both formal, and Informal. I studied sculpture and ceramics, at different times during my university training. I worked for five years as an assistant to sculptor Dimitri Hadzi. He was known mostly for monumental outdoor pieces in stone and bronze. That was a very educational time for me. I also worked in a bronze-casting foundry for a time.
All those experiences taught me a great deal, but at this point I feel I really get the most from working in my studio. I always try to push my abilities a little further, and I’m still learning all the time.

q)Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?

a)I love technology and gadgets, but in the end I always find it really satisfying to simply use my hands. I think we take our hands for granted.

q)Who are your influences?

a)My experience working for Dimitri Hadzi, had a strong influence on me. His life, and energy, really kindled my passion for making art. He was a mentor and a friend. It is hard to say the direction my life would have taken if we had not met.

q)What inspires you to create?

a)That’s hard to pin down. I have felt a strong need to make things since I was a young child, but certainly I can say that nature has always been a tremendous source of awe and inspiration for me. Also, I am very much interested in history. High renaissance, mannerist, and baroque art are particularly appealing to me. Also I’m very interested in porcelain figurines, produced by Meissen and Sevres.

q)…your contacts…


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