Jeff Hirst

Q&A with Jeff Hirst & Gallery Director Laura Moriarty

LM: I really like the part of your artist statement where you describe your studio being located near a metal salvage yard. Can you speak a bit about how the industrial and the natural coexist in your work?

JH: When I think of how the industrial and the natural coexist in our world I sometimes think elements interacting producing a high contrast situation. 

In the case of the metal salvage yard sitting on the banks of the river there seems to be an odd juxtaposition going on.  There’s this noisy manmade industrial setting lying on the banks of a beautiful river-two elements foreign to one another.  At what point do you start to notice the salvage yard over the river and vice versa?  It becomes a sensory experience and this sensory experience is what I try to bring into my work by playing high contrasts of architectural based grid work against organic, poetic passages. My work has long had a scrawling mark marking approach that references and is inspired by urban industrial components. I am not trying to illustrate the industrial and the river idea, but using it as a jumping off point in my work to explore sensory perceptions. 

LM: How has your background in printmaking carried over into encaustic painting?

JH: Printmaking has very much influenced my encaustic painting in multiple ways.  I think of printmaking as a building process where multiple layers are combined to make an image. At least this is the case with color lithography, relief, screenprinting and intaglio.  I have brought the idea of builder to my encaustic work when developing images-I am not really painting, but building the image.  Often in printmaking image deletion becomes an important part of making the print-it reveals a history.  I often tell people when making my encaustic paintings I remove as much wax as I put on-I am a scraper.  In some ways I think of my encaustic paintings as plates that are not going to be printed.  Other print ideas that have spilled into my encaustic painting are intaglio line work, litho washes and screenprinted fragments into the wax.  

LM: I notice your work from this past year is playing off of the wall in a jaunty new way that reminds me of rippling fields. How did you arrive at this new format?

JH: A few years ago I started making groups of paintings to be shown as installations.  I like the idea where each painting has a function in a larger context-adding everything together to come up with a larger statement.  It’s kind of how a choral group becomes stronger as the voices unite.  When I started making installations the paintings were all rectangular shapes.  In the last year or so, I’ve started working on shaped panels that break the rectangle, but still have rectangular references-kind of a skewed rectangles.  By shaping the panels a stronger relationship develops between each painting as the edges of the paintings start to project outward and the negative space of the wall itself becomes more important.  The placement of each painting within the installation changes with each new setting that the work is displayed.  In the installation, Glow, I wanted the work to dance across the wall-almost a meandering feel.  Each individual painting adds up to create an overall image so there’s this image within an image concept going on.  It’s interesting because the shape of the panels is a shape that keeps coming back to me over many years.  Many years ago I made a series of shaped prints that were made using shaped handmade paper and some of the shapes I’ve used in Glow have a kinship with those earlier print shapes.

LM: What aspect of your work or practice do you enjoy the most, (researching, beginning, process, finishing, sharing, you can really talk about anything here)?

JH: Well I find each of these aspects exciting, but I really enjoy the process of creating.  During the working process there’s a point where the conscious switches over to the unconscious and at this point is where exciting things can happen-where intuition kicks in.  The working process is a great place for me to make discoveries and really get to know my work. I can have the idea of where I want the work to go, but not until the working process do “spiritual” discoveries start to occur.

LM: What is on the horizon for you? Where will you be teaching, exhibiting or presenting in the near future?

JH: For 2012, I am teaching many encaustic workshops at my Minneapolis studio and at other art venues.  I will teach workshops in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and at the 6th Annual International Encaustic Conference.  At the 6th Annual International Encaustic Conference I‘ll be giving a demo on screenprinting onto encaustic surfaces and also will be teaching a post-conference workshop on screenprinting into encaustic.  For 2012 I’ll be exhibiting at the Southern Graphics Conference in New Orleans; an exhibition, Good Vibrations, at Gallery Ehva in Provincetown, MA and a two-person show in Minneapolis.  

Currently, I am working on new shaped paintings and on a new screenprint as part of a group portfolio, Current Voodoo, with 29 other artists-the work will be part of a show called Navigating Currents.


More in this category: Clarissa Shanahan »