Interrupted Images: Discombobulation in Painting is Definitely a Thing








DOLBY CHADWICK GALLERY
Kai Samuels-Davis, In Darkness Apparent, 2015 I Oil on panel I 40 x 30 inches
When an invitation for a show by Kai Samuels-Davis recently appeared in my inbox, I had an immediate reaction to his work: “This artist is definitely a discombobulator." 

Yes, an explanation is in order.
“Discombobulation” in painting is a trend that was first noticed and named by artist F. Scott Hess. Scott has been lecturing about movement in painting, and during a talk I attended at the John Natsoulas Gallery in 2013 he applied the term both to his own work and to the works of several other contemporary painters. As Scott explained it, discombobulation refers to paintings that have a distinct sense of visual interruption.
Sometimes the interruptions are related to perception—caused by movement, multiple points of view or shifts in light or focus—or sometimes they are conceptual, resulting from self-conscious decisions made by an artist for stylistic reasons. Sometimes they are both, so it seems possible that some painters might indeed be called Perceptual/Conceptual Discombobulators. Yikes!
The dictionary definition of discombobulation is “to confuse or frustrate” and to a degree that is what discombobulated paintings do: they frustrate any attempt at easy scanning and recognition of imagery. The resulting sensation of “canvas interruptus” creates a kind of frission that can generate aesthetic pleasure. More about that later...
Discombobulated images can be dense, suggestive, confusing and potentially damned interesting. You might say that Paul Cezanne—who recognized the “petit sensation” generated by each brushstroke—is the great-grandfather of discombobulation, but there are certainly many other modern and contemporary artists whose works have played with the rich possibilities of visual interruption.
Styles that deal with simultaneity—notably Cubism and Futurism—certainly have an aspect of discombobulation, as do Expressionist works that have bold, disruptive brushwork. The Italian Futurist Boccioni, for example, was an excellent early discombobulator. Boccioni and his fellow Futurists wanted to depict the dynamism of modern life so it’s natural that a sense of interruption and dislocation characterized their compositions.
VON DER HEYDT MUSEUM, WUPPERTAL
Umberto Boccioni, Visioni simultanee, 1912,

Contemporary discombobulation—let’s say from the past decade—seems to have its sources in postwar European painting, particularly in the exquisitely self-conscious paintings of the late Euan Euglow (1932-2000). A meticulous and fidgety painter who often left traces of geometric markings on his finished figures, Euglow’s works have what artist Vincent Desiderio calls a “narrative of creation,” meaning that appreciating his works involves noticing and appreciating the sense of effort and correction that went into making them. In other words, looking at the Euglow nude below won’t give you an instant and easy image of a human figure: you’ll have to work a bit to also understand all the gives and takes that went into seeing, measuring and painting it. You share the artist’s perceptual struggles and grapple with the underlying geometries that he insinuates.
Euan Uglow, Female Figure Standing by a Heater, 1952

You could certainly argue that Willem de Kooning was a discombobulator—an Abstract Expressionist Discombobulator—but the reason I am linking the contemporary development of all this to Uglow is that the traditional rendering skills apparent underneath his work provide a kind of coherence and rigor that set the stage for what representational artists seem to be doing now. There are more and more academically trained, representational artists these days who are looking for ways to have it both ways: to make paintings that display their training while also asserting their freedom to work against their skills. I often hear the prediction that ateliers and traditionalist art schools are going to produce students who dull, constrained work, and discombobulation is one way of proving the doubters wrong.
”There’s a certain denial built into discombobulated work.” observes painter Karen Kaapcke. “I think it’s also a response on the part of artists working in the figurative tradition to the question of how one can work figuratively right now. You’re doing it and not doing it at the same time.”
DOLBY CHADWICK GALLERY
Alex Kanevsky, Professor Charles Gallagher vacationing in New England, 2015 | Oil on panel | 18 x 18 inches

Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco strikes me as being the epicenter of discombobulation. Two of the artists that show there—Alex Kanevsky and Ann Gale—are among my personal picks as the masters of this approach. Kanevsky is a wonderful risk-taker whose paintings are full of slippery and satisfying disjunctions. His best works have a sense of immense skill lurking beneath a luxurious incoherence. In a 2012 interview with Neil Plotkin, Kanevsky stated: “I always want to function at the edge of my current abilities to keep things exciting. There should always be a danger of a painting crashing and burning.”
DOLBY CHADWICK GALLERY
Ann Gale, Shawna in Lines, 2016 | Oil on canvas | 58 x 44 inches

Ann Gale is apparently a perceptual discombobulator (sorry Ann!) whose rigorous atomized brushwork is a record of her constant need to adjust:
“My interest in the elusive sensation of light and the shifting presence of the figure has lead me to reexamine color relationships that are not contained within figure or object.  Though these adjustments help me to be more specific, they often do not produce a smooth rendering.” 
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
F. Scott Hess,Table #58, 2013, oil on canvas

A few years ago, when Scott Hess was making discombobulated paintings, he used intentionally botched iPhone panorama shots as his source material. These photos gave him not only an easy source of perceptual glitches, but also a conceptual tie to digital imagery. In Scott’s skilled hands the results are gently humorous and pleasantly perplexing. While making them Scott delved into neuroscience and developed some personal ideas as to why discombobulation could be so satisfying:
Discombobulation creates an embodied empathy in the viewer. It works on two levels;
1) We feel the marks that made the image. As in Van Gogh or Soutine, this discombobulation engenders a powerful response where the painter’s stroke is re-enacted in the viewer’s mind.
2) The brain prefers smooth surfaces and only wants to work at the edges of forms. That is the default mode of the brain. It is computer-like, compressing the areas that it doesn’t need to analyze, like the smoother central sections of a form. It only notes change, discrepancy. When faced with a disintegrating form, like a De Kooning or a Kanevsky, it has to go into overtime. I think the aesthetic pleasure one derives from this type of work depends on whether your brain enjoys the extra work load or not.
It’s hard to say where this is all going, but I’m seeing enough work in this vein to declare that discombobulation is definitely a trend. Grammarians, help me out: does that now mean that Discombobulation should be capitalized? Would that officially make it a style?
As more artists work this way there will certainly be some bad work showing up: it isn’t too hard to just pick up a squeegee and go all Gerhard Richter on a failing figure painting, right? On the other hand, some of the work I am seeing is pretty interesting. There is an exciting give and take going on in discombobulated paintings that gives them a sense of life, of danger even.
I remember reading once that the French painter Ingres was praised for making figures so smooth that they seemed to be “carved out of butter.” I’m sure that the chilliness of that approach is partly what Cezanne and the discombobulators who followed him were rebelling against. Sometimes the right interruption—in art and in life—is the wake up call we all need.

Walter Robinson: A Passion for Normcore





COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
The Eager Ones, 1979
Walter Robinson, the painter, critic and former editor of Artnet Magazine, is currently having a show at the newly re-opened Jeffrey Deitch Gallery in New York City. Titled “Paintings and Other Indulgences,” it is the first full survey of Robinson’s paintings—it features 94 works made between 1979 and 2014—and was curated by Barry Blinderman.
Robinson, who, according to the exhibition’s press release, addresses “the collision of capital and everyday cravings in a media-saturated world,” is an unassuming yet influential art world figure. “Generosity and humility combined with humor and intelligence are rare traits in artists,” comments artist and writer Carol Diehl, who has known Robinson since the early days. “At least there is one, and he’s getting his due.”
 His pulp fiction inspired images of sexy doctors and nurses came years before Richard Prince’s nurses, and Robinson made his first “spin” paintings at age seven, beating Damien Hirst by decades. Robinson the critic coined the very apt and funny phrase “Zombie Formalism,” while making salient points about the vapidity of art made for the speculative market.The Post-Pop imagery that established Robinson’s reputation is both affectionate and funny. Robinson has a genuine passion for mainstream American culture—and its relative blandness—and for the “normcore” acoutrements of American fashion.
John Seed Interviews Walter Robinson

PHOTO: AYN S. CHOI
Walter Robinson

Walter, where and how did you grow up?
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which though it may seem like a “western” or “southern” state was in fact Suburbia, USA, or at least it was in my lily-white neighborhood. Ranch-style houses, green lawns, shopping centers. We rode bikes without wearing helmets, and played baseball in the vacant lots.
My father was a civil engineer who worked for Dupont, my mother raised me and my three younger siblings, and later went back to work as a social psychologist. High school was like high school everywhere — S.E. Hinton did a good job capturing the Tulsa scene in her book “The Outsiders,” which Francis Ford Coppola made into a movie. Ever see that? Also “Rumblefish.”

COURTESY JEFFREY DEITCH
Amy’s Veggie Burger

When did you know you were an artist? 
When I turned 60?
Actually one of my earliest memories is being the kid in kindergarten who could draw. I’d draw high-noon showdowns. The sheriff wore a star and the bad guy a black bandanna. I remember putting both the star and the bandana on one character, which must have been the beginning of my avant-garde career.
Another early memory is my discovery of abstraction at age 7 in 1957, when I made my first spin painting on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.
COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Amboy Dukes, 1981

Tell me about getting started as an artist and your early days in the East Village
The 1980s, when my painting career really began (in the ‘70s I was experimenting with super-8 films, and publishing Art-Rite, our own ‘zine), are basically a blur. I remember borrowing a friend’s loft to paint a series of five large — 9 x 9 ft, and 9 x 12 ft. — paintings on dropcloths for the 1983 Terminal Show in Brooklyn. They hung like great banners from a pedestrian bridge that crossed the huge atrium of the concrete Art Brut building. That’s not much of an anecdote. Maybe Carlo McCormick could give you a better one: he was an East Village celebrity and I was his driver.
I had shown my paintings first at Metro Pictures in SoHo, but then I met and started hanging out with the gang in the East Village, and when the dealers there — like Piezo Electric and Semaphore Gallery — asked me to show, I went ahead and did it. Perhaps I should have focused more on Metro, but what the hell, we exhibited freely in group shows at various galleries, in exhibitions at nightclubs and bars. I realized that the East Village had really come of age when Carlo McCormick arranged a series of 10 one-night shows at the Limbo Lounge on East 10th Street. If ten artists could drag their stuff to that coffee shop, install it for a day and then take it away, making room for the next artist, I knew that the East Village had energy to burn. 
COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Lube Lands, 1985

You have said you are into “norm-core.” Tell me about what that means in regards to your paintings.
Normcore is actually a word from the fashion industry, and it refers to clothes with no real style. Notable would be Lands’ End and L.L.Bean, I think, simple middle-class gear with no pretense towards chic or vanguardism. The advertisements for this kind of clothing, either mail-order catalogues or newspaper inserts (and now emails), appealed to me as a kind of anti-art, and anti-kitsch, too — in other words, the least desirable, most transitory kind of imagery you could think of, something that was practically invisible. So I started using these bland fashion shots as the source for figurative paintings. It’s a special type of imagery — models selling clothes.
COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Plaid Shirt

They connect to the viewer, they instigate a back-and-forth dynamic that is typically different and more aggressive than ordinary paintings, which just sit there on the wall to be looked at. The imagery has already been designed — the outfits have been designed, the models have been made up, the poses have been perfected. It’s market-ready. In addition this material is segmented by season, by age, by gender. So you can have girls selling down coats and knit caps in winter, or women selling bikinis in the summer, or men selling suits at any time. The body is also segmented in these advertisements by the various products they’re selling; you have images of men’s shorts, for instance, or ladies’ shoes.
An example in the retrospective at Deitch is “Shoes,” 2014, which shows a row of tasseled loafers — they could be Tod’s, I don’t remember — in various colors. It’s like Ellsworth Kelly. Another subcategory of the normcore paintings are the paintings of folded shirts. For me they were an excuse to make an essentially abstract painting, a painting with stripes or colorful geometric shapes. The white shirt is supposed to be like a Robert Ryman.
COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Shoes

Peter Schjeldahl says that your work has a sense of “innocence” about it. Is he right?
Whatever Peter says, I agree with.
COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Vick’s Vaporub

As a critic you have lamented the “market model.” Do you have any hope that the model is changing for the better? 
Did I lament the market model?
Actually, I think as a critic I took more interest in the market than most other commentators, who tend to dismiss it in disgust. In fact it’s fascinating, the interplay between esthetics, art history, the construction of opinion and the art market. I like to think of auction prices, say, as an arbitrary but clear measure of the value of an artwork. It’s a completely different standard than critics’ opinions of an artwork’s quality, which is very subjective and uncertain. Most of the time, the opinions of most art lovers are being formed and constrained by market forces they’re not even aware of.
What’s that Marxian saying; “Better attend to the invisible hand of the market, because the invisible hand of the market is certainly attending to you!”
COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Spin Paintings

Whose work do you like right now? 
Oh, well, when I was an editor and art writer, I was allowed to like many many things, it was my job to be open-minded. Now that I’m an artist, I have no interest at all in anything by other artists. 
PHOTO BY ADAM REICH COURTESY OF JEFFREY DEITCH
Installation View

What are your personal interests and causes outside the realm of art? 
Vote the chick not the dick! 
Anything else that needs to be said? 
Be sure to see it: the exhibition is on view through Oct. 17.

PHOTO: KATYA KAZAKINA
Exhibition View

Walter Robinson: Paintings and Other Indugences (A Retropsective)
Curated by Barry Blinderman
September 17 - October 22, 2016
Jeffrey Deitch Gallery
18 Wooster Street
New York

Now on my HuffingtonPost blog: Walter Robinson: A Passion for Normcore. photo by Ayn S. Choi


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Dina Brodsky: ‘The Secret Life of Trees’


DINA BRODSKY
Tree #80, 8.5×11.5″, oil ond ballpoint pen on paper, April 3d, 2016
While pregnant with her son, artist and miniaturist Dina Brodsky began drawing trees as a way to keep making art while no longer painting. Selected works from the portfolio of 126 images that resulted are now on view at New York’s Bernaducci.Meisel Gallery, running concurrently with a show by Dina’s sister Maya. Executed primarily in ball-point pen, along with traces of other media, Brodsky’s trees present a dazzling array of formations and textures.
They are both a diary and a rumination on the infinite variety of nature.
John Seed Interviews Dina Brodsky

Dina Brodsky

Tell me a bit about where and how you grew up
I was born in Belarus, but my family immigrated to the US in the early 1990s and my formative years were spent in Massachusetts, between Boston and Amherst, where I attended college. As to how I grew up, I read a lot and compulsively made lists of the things I read about. My family talked a lot: I suppose that between talking, reading and list-making I became the person that I am.

Dina’s sketchbook

When did you realize you were an artist?
My first week at university, at 3am, while working on a homework assignment for a foundations art class that I took because I thought it would be an easy way to pass the time before I could drop out of university and hitchhike around Europe, which was my plan at the time. It was a charcoal self-portrait: I had never used charcoal before, and wasn’t particularly good at it, but I was more absorbed in the portrait than I had been in anything, possibly ever. That was when I realized that this is what I want to do, for as many hours as possible, every day of my life, this is who I want to be. That was almost exactly 16 years ago, and I still feel this way.
I ended up hitchhiking around Europe as well, mostly to draw old buildings and go to museums.

DINA BRODSKY
“Secret Life of Trees”, day 106 out of 126, ballpoint pen on paper

What kind of experience did you have at the New York Academy and who were your mentors?
The New York Academy was an absolutely amazing place. It was everything I ever wanted from my education, and, after my undergraduate years, where I had very little guidance in the kind of art I wanted to learn to make, it was a sort of epiphany. I was incredibly hungry for information, and both the professors and my fellow students were incredibly knowledgeable, hard working, and had similar beliefs about what constitutes art that I did. As for mentors, all of the professors were fantastic.
Wade Schuman was one that was particularly inspirational, for the scope of his knowledge, as well as simply how much he cared, both about art and his students.

DINA BRODSKY
Tree #18, ballpoint pen on paper, 3.5×5.5″, August 26th, 2015

How did you decide to begin your series of trees?
A lot of my sketchbook drawings through the years are from long distance cycling trips I have taken, where I would mostly camp in the forest. Trees were a good thing to sketch as a warm-up in the morning, and I have a lot of them in my sketchbooks. The tree drawing project I just finished “The Secret Life of Trees” began when I was pregnant the summer before this one, and was getting progressively less mobile (and unable to use oil paint).
I started drawing from my sketches and photos I took while traveling. Then people I knew—friends and family at first, then people I only knew through social media—started sending me photos and stories of their favorite trees -some sent poems, as well as tree related traditions specific to their part of the world. The project continued after my son was born, as a way to vicariously see bits of the universe I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. In a way it was a sort of tree diary of that year of my life, during which my life changed dramatically.

DINA BRODSKY
Tree #55, ballpoint pen and gouache on brown handmade paper, 4×6″, January 17, 2016

Your trees are done mainly in ballpoint pen: how did you choose that medium and how do you make it work for you?
Honestly, ballpoint pen is the only drawing tool that I’m comfortable with. It’s been my favorite and only sketching instrument for over 10 years, although these are my first ballpoint drawings outside of my sketchbook. I like the level of control you can get with ballpoint, also the fact that it doesn’t allow for erasure creates an immediacy of sorts: I have to truly focus on the drawing in front of me.

DINA BRODSKY
Tree #60, ballpoint and white gel pen on paper, 4.5×8″, January 28th, 2016

Tell me about one image in particular
Tree #60: These are poplar trees from France, sent my way by the painter Brian Neish, who I have never met in person, but corresponded with over the last few years. He sent me some photos of a poplar grove, along with some paintings he made of the same place. He also told me of an old tradition from the part of France he lived in: when a farmer’s daughter is born, he plants a poplar grove. Poplars take 16 or so years to reach maturity, and, when a daughter reaches 16 and is considered of a marriageable age, the poplar grove becomes her dowry.

DINA BRODSKY
Tree #96, 5.5×8″, ballpoint pen, watercolor and gouache on paper, May 21st, 2016

What have you learned while working on this series?
I learned that I work best, and think most creatively when given a reasonably strict structure within which to operate. the project evolved organically throughout the year, growing—sort of like a tree itself—in directions I wanted to explore, experimenting with different varieties of trees, different textures of paper, different mediums, as I started to add watercolor, gouache and finally oil to the ballpoint.
Also that the deeper you go into a subject, the more interesting it becomes- the more I drew the trees, the more I learned about them, I started seeing the trees around me in an entirely new way.

DINA BRODSKY
Tree #81, 5×5″, ballpoint pen on paper, April 4th, 2016

Tell me a bit about your life and interests outside of art.
Right now my life outside art is mostly centered around meeting the various needs of a very small child. Before that, my interests vaguely revolved around reading, cycling and lurking (which is the way I think of just observing the world and people around me). All of these feed the art I make, also, other than reading, my sketchbook has always accompanied me during my lurking and cycling.
Is there anything else you would like to mention? I think it is my sketchbooks, more than anything else that have shaped the way I see the world. All of my thoughts, observations, travel and ideas end up as my sketchbook pages, which in turn inform my finished work.

Dina sketching

Dina Brodsky
Secret Life of Trees
8 September - 1 October 2016
37 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Between 5th and 6th Avenues
3rd Floor



Now on my HuffingtonPost blog: an interview with Dina Brodsky #trees


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Eve Aschheim: Drawings and Photograms at Lori Bookstein Fine Art

In her current exhibition at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, Eve Aschheim is showing both drawings and photograms. Aschheim’s drawings, executed with gesso, graphite and ink on mylar, set unstable geometries on fields of tonal washes. Her photograms—made directly from her translucent drawings—take her ideas further through the addition of drawn images and transmutations made during multiple exposures. Dynamic, conceptually fragile and resolutely abstract, Aschheim’s latest works are a continuation of the artist’s career-long dialog with modernist abstraction.
John Seed Interviews Eve Aschheim


PHOTO: WALID MARFOUK
Eve Aschheim

Tell me about your photograms: when did you begin making them?
They began at the instigation of Emmet Gowin, a Princeton colleague, who thought we could shine light through my mylar drawings to make photograms. It reveals the hidden life of the drawing: a kind of x-ray. A trace of past decisions shows up, things not visible in the finished drawing: pencil lines under white gesso for example.
To work with Emmet in the darkroom is magical; he works with full presence, knowledge of materials, and an instinct for possibility. He got me thinking in another medium, the photographic. He showed me many things, like how to draw with prepared flashlights, literally “drawing with light” which darkens the photo paper. Soon I was working on my own, and I started using objects, drawn elements and other contraptions to make photograms that were not dependent on my drawings. Our darkroom tech Teresa Simao has advised me in so many ways. Gary Schneider and Accra Shepp have also been insightful.

EVE ASCHHEIM UNTITLED 2009 UNIQUE PHOTOGRAM 14 X 11 INCHES
Lori Bookstein Fine Art

Have you always favored abstraction?
Yes. My grandfather was an economist and an avid wood sculptor. When I was young, he introduced me to abstract art, enthusiastically proclaiming it “Modern.” In kindergarten I fancied myself a modern abstract artist and decided to draw every single day. Most of the girls played house, and the boys played with tinker toys. I learned to paint and draw figuratively, but I liked the freedom of abstraction. I’m more interested in abstract relationships than appearances.

EVE ASCHHEIM UNTITLED 2013 UNIQUE PHOTOGRAM 11.625 X 10 INCHES
Lori Bookstein Fine Art

Who and what are some of your sources and influences?
Originally Malevich, El Lissitzky, Kandinsky, Klee, Matisse, Tintoretto, then artists associated with Minimalism, but who weren’t doctrinaire, like Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin, Brice Marden, Ann Truitt, Richard Artschwager. When I moved to New York and started teaching at Princeton I met Heidi Glück and Merrill Wagner, who is married to Robert Ryman— I learned a lot from them, and also from Dorothea Rockburne, Seton Smith, Linda Besemer, Richard Whitten, John Dubrow, and Linda Francis.
It also interests me the way some Europeans reconfigure the problems and rules of abstraction, often starting from the same sources as mine, but ending up in other places: Geneviève Asse, Fritz Klemm, Jürgen Partenheimer, and Nadine Fecht. My friendship with the prodigious East German draftsman Hanns Schimansky crisscrosses the Atlantic.
Several years ago he took my husband (John Yau) daughter and me to the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany. Then later, when he and I were in a show together at the Hartford Art School, at the panel discussion he spoke about living in East Germany and what it could it mean for a line to be “free”. We are still discussing this question. I have a similarly dynamic dialogue with the Spanish artists Juan Uslé and Victoria Civera. I also look at lots of figurative art: Seurat, Manet, Tiepolo, Lois Dodd, recently Edwin Dickinson, and Chinese ink painting, such as “Eight views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers” (ca.1150) by Wang Hong.
This summer I saw the Hilma af Klint paintings at the New Museum and was shaken up. There is a whole floor devoted to her, and the paintings are so big they engulf you. If you stand close and stare at the little triangle or shape in the middle, using it as a focus point, the rest of the painting becomes a floating mystical space with things rushing past. It is quite visionary, and a strange experience. It is clear that her work was intentionally big. She hasn’t influenced my work yet, but things seep in slowly.

EVE ASCHHEIM UNTITLED C. 2006 UNIQUE PHOTOGRAM 13.875 X 11 INCHES
Lori Bookstein Fine Art

I first met you when we were both students at UC Berkeley. Who were your mentors there?
I studied with Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Chris Brown, David Simpson, George Miyasaki, and almost everyone else there in painting, including visitors James Hayward and Robert Yarber. I soaked it all up, and we had fun painting in the studios on weekends, a loose group with Emily Wilson, Chris Lesnewski, Margaret Trimble, Steve Schwartz, Susan Weller, John Beech, with other artists around: Cynthia Lin, John Zurier, Russell Steinert, Jack Hanley, Deborah Oropallo, and René de Guzman.
Joan Brown was a very decisive and powerful personality. She was a very big influence in pointing me in the right direction. I was making figurative paintings and trying to learn how to make abstract paintings: she said I had to choose.
I was closest to Elmer Bischoff, who had a very special eye and gave me regular critiques. I could never predict what he would say. He talked about the “knife” in my drawings. He showed me so many things. Just yesterday I saw another state of the Rembrandt print The Artist Drawing from the Model (1648 or later) that Bischoff loved in the “Unfinished” show at the MET Breuer. I still think about things he said.
I also studied with the art historians Svetlana Alpers, a powerful and rigorous thinker, and Kristine Stiles, who as just a graduate student taught an intense seminar on Pop Art. We had a class full of future art historians, writers, and artists, including Dean Smith, Rebecca Solnit, Roland Hsu, and the gallerist David Maupin. There was a lot at stake. I liked the underbelly of Pop—artists like Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Wallace Berman—better than Pop.

EVE ASCHHEIM UNTITLED 2016 UNIQUE PHOTOGRAM 18.25 X 11.75 INCHES
Lori Bookstein Fine Art

When and how did you come to teach at Princeton? What has your teaching career been like?
In 1991 Jim Seawright, Director of the Program in Visual Arts, hired me as an adjunct from the slide pool, after a studio visit. I had moved to NY and just sent in slides. It was a dream come true, because I love teaching there. Concepts like originality and creativity have been usefully critiqued in terms of the artist’s indebtedness to prior works, but invention is still real and exciting. Teaching is all about this creative moment, where knowledge, intuition and materials intersect through channels that are partly unconscious. Over time, I have become less focused on ‘successful’ student work and have become more open to idiosyncratic things happening.
I’ve also had wonderful opportunities to work with colleagues in the classroom. I twice co-taught a graduate course with the brilliant poet and essayist Susan Stewart. Called “Drawing and the Line in Literature and the Visual Arts,” the class explored ekphrasis and various connections between our disciplines, touching on topics including clouds, shadows, anamorphism and projective systems, time and narrative. Recently we taught the course in the Princeton Museum, with Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge and Richard Tuttle as guest artists.
Mathematician John Conway has come to my painting class to talk about n-dimensional geometry and other math concepts. Since the Cubists were inspired by 4th dimensional geometry, I wanted to challenge students to experiment with how higher dimensions might look. Conway is interested in the math that underlies many structures in the visible world: pine cones, frieze patterns, brickwork patterns, etc.
Currently I’m collaborating with the engineering professor Naomi Leonard on a “motion capture” project for my drawing class. She has a lab outfitted with equipment for motion capture. We are experimenting with drawing 3-dimensionally in real space using a wand with sensors. The resulting drawings are 3-D and can be viewed on the computer as a still image, rotated in space, or seen as they develop over time as a continuous video.

EVE ASCHHEIM DECISIVE LINE 2016 GESSO, INK AND GRAPHITE ON MYLAR 18 X 12 INCHES
Lori Bookstein Fine Art

Being married to a writer/poet/critic (John Yau) I bet you have some lively discussions about art at your house, right?
It’s pretty much a non-stop discussion about one thing or another almost all hours of the day and night. Packages of books are always arriving. Every table or chair is just another place to stack books, and every day we talk about a new book or show.
Tell me a bit about living in New York and how it affects your work?
My studio is on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, and I have a view of nature in the city, with lots of different kinds of movement: trees, airplanes, boats, cars, and pedestrians. I live in the NoMad area, and although undergoing gentrification, it is still a wholesale shopping neighborhood with lots of stores selling handbags, jewelry, wigs, perfume, plants, etc. The energy of the city is always somehow feeding my work. The constant tearing down and rebuilding, the clash of sounds, the odd visual juxtapositions, the piles of thrown-out stuff on the street, the strange left-over spaces, the construction sites that expose views never seen before, the street vendors and barking dogs…it all resonates through my art.

SPECTRAL CLICK 2016 GESSO, INK AND GRAPHITE ON MYLAR 18 X 12 INCHES
Lori Bookstein Fine Art

Is there anything you would like to mention about your current show at Lori Bookstein?
This is the first time I am showing the drawings and photograms together in New York. The relationships between the two have gotten more complex. Some photograms are relatively direct transcriptions of drawings and other photograms are created in the darkroom and have no specific intact source; they are made in many different ways. I’m also excited to show with Louise Kruger, a very special artist with a tough and personal vision.
Eve Aschheim: Drawings and Photograms
September 8 – October 15, 2016
138 Tenth Avenue, New York NY 10011