Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Art Space Talk: Chad Robertson

(photo by Robin Andersen)

I recently interviewed Chad Robertson. Mr. Robertson was represented by sixspace gallery at the PULSE Art Fair in New York (2007). I contacted Chad shortly after interviewing Caryn Coleman- the owner and director of sixspace gallery.

Chad Robertson's paintings involve both a video camera and a computer. The subjects are first videotaped with a digital camera during an "interview" session with the artist. The digital footage taken from this experience is downloaded into the computer where Robertson examines frame-by-frame looking for the "moment between moment" gestures that lie behind the fa├žade of external projections.

These chosen moments (subtle nuances such as a blinking eye, a hand brushing the face) are layered in Photoshop, juxtaposing different expressions to complete a rough "video sketch". This digital composition is then used as the reference for the final execution of the painting.

Mr. Roberston is currently working on a new body of work. It will be interesting to observe what direction he takes with these new paintings.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I was around eight years old- in 2nd grade- when I did a drawing at school and got a lot of attention for it. I had no idea I was any good and was quite surprised with the reaction I received..."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I think all art is affected by the society that an artist lives in, even if it's unintentional. The culture seeps in by osmosis, it really can't be helped on subliminal level. I think my work has political influences on a second tier. It doesn't speak directly to the politics of the day but I feel it speaks more of the effect that politics has on the society that I live in."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "The earlier work went much faster, I would get a 5 foot canvas done in around 3 days. The new work that I have just started (and really hasn't been shown yet) is much more layered and complicated. These new works are averaging about a month, and that's for a 30 by 40 inch size piece."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "For me personally- it is a mental discipline. It's something that I have to do. With all of the frustration and trauma that goes into making something and trying to make something good, something that resonates in this world, I still find myself year-in year-out going back to it. It's like breathing or eating- something that can't be stopped."

Q. Has your art ever been published? Where?

A. "Yes my last show was reviewed in the L.A. times. I was on the cover of Anthem magazine in 2006(mar/apr), and Spanish magazine called Staf, a magazine called Ingenue, the L.A Weekly a few years back...."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "It wasn't the most important exhibition for my own work but it was the most important exhibition that I participated in. It was an exhibition titled "Cruel and Unusual". It was a benefit exhibition for the West Memphis Three. It was to raise funds and awareness for three kids who were wrongly convicted for murder in Arkansas in 1993. One is on death row the other two got life without parole. It was a complete witch hunt and a travesty both for the kids and the victims whose killer(s) are still out there free. It's insane compelling story, the best resources to learn about it are the two award winning HBO documentaries "Paradise lost" and "Paradise lost: Revelations" both are brilliant films that give you the low down on this tragic story. There is also the official website dedicated to getting these guys out of prison and that is "

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Yeah music is tantamount. I think I could say that music influences my art more that other visual artists, it's that important to me. So yeah my ipod is my constant studio companion, it's always on shuffle and for working it is usually a mix of ambient grooves blended with more melodic rock/pop/ alternative ect..."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A."They all collect art? I'll pass on this one. haha...."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "I am working on a new body of work right now that I'm tentatively calling "mash ups". The example here is titled "mash up 02" (image above).

In a nut shell I'm seeing the narrative of the painting as a piece of music. I was really interested in taking visual elements and combing them like a musician would combine notes or string words together to create lyrics.

The new work is a homage for my love of music. I tried hard to be able to play an instrument when I was younger but was never very good at it. My talent was in art so this is my stab at making music in my own way."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I graduated from Otis/Parsons (when it still had Parsons attached to it) here in Los Angeles. I consider school incredibly important to the making of art. it really helped me to basically learn the fundamentals of drawing and painting and it was fantastic having the critical response from my teachers and my peers in the classroom."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "Paint just made sense to me. It felt right and I felt most comfortable using it. in school I painted with gouache and acrylic. My post school work has been mostly in oil."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "I won't be having a solo show locally (L.A) until April 2008. I will be in a group show here in L.A at the Pharnka Gallery in May. There is also a group show that I am doing in Seattle at the Ok Ok gallery in mid August. I will also have work in the "07" art fair in London which coincides with frieze with sixspace in October. but you can always visit sixspace(my gallery) here in Los Angeles and I have work in the "backroom" there."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery?

A."sixspace represents me here in Los Angeles."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "sixspace is the place. or you can visit my website at "

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I try not to look at the trends, it's a bit daunting and I don't want to be distracted. I definitely look at art but not in the 'trend' frame of mind. I seek out what I can enjoy and learn from."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Get an education! I really feel that it is so important to go to school, learn the fundamentals of your craft. Learn to be critical as well as taking criticism. School is really great for just having an art community to be apart of, to learn from. It's an invaluable experience."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "Actually it hasn't."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Well I don't want to scare anybody off but it's always kind of tough. Making a decent living creating art is REALLY hard. I really don't believe or find the starving artist cliche to be that romantic. For me personally I make the strongest work when I'm not freaking out about the bills. I also freelance as a designer doing movie posters to keep the wolves by my door at bay...."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "It's something that I need to be doing with my life."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I live in Los Angeles which is considered the number 2 art capital in the world. There is an immense art scene happening here with an incredible amount of talent. I was in New York for the art fairs this past February and they have one that is dedicated to just mainly L.A galleries. It gave me the opportunity to see a slice of this city in one show. of course it didn't represent the L.A art scene as a whole but even this little slice was incredibly impressive. There is so much talent here it's scary, and I'm not saying that just because I live here. Ha Ha..."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Not intentionally."

Q. Do you have any concerns about the current 'art world'?

A. "If I answer that question it will fill a book."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "I think I about said it all, Thanks for the interview!"
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Chad Robertson. Feel free to critique or discuss his art.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the incredibly important interview!

Outlets like this are so Chad's work needs to be scene!