Thursday, October 14, 2010

To & From Life: Q&A with Eric Fischl in today's National Post

Art Fag City's subtitle/tagline "As relevant as Eric Fischl" has always made me chuckle. Indeed, Fischl is a much-revered icon, but it takes a quick wit like Paddy Johnson's to use it with such blogular effect.

So I kind of had to ask Fischl about the tagline when I got a chance to talk with him on the phone last week about new watercolours (yes, watercolours) he's showing at Barbara Edwards Contemporary in Toronto. Mostly we talked about the paintings themselves, which was also interesting, and touched on the fact that he paints in his opinion not "from life," but "back to life."

Here's an excerpt from our condensed Q&A out in today's National Post:

Q You’ve famously said, “I paint to tell myself about myself.” What did these paintings tell you?
A Well, what I’ve learned about myself is in the paintings. It’s not something that easily gets translated back into words. The things I make are the best way I could articulate the things I’m thinking and feeling about.

Q That’s fair. Watercolours are usually associated with genteel landscapes, not the kind of muscular, sexy paintings you’re known for. Why use watercolour this time out?
A I love how direct and fragile and ephemeral and liquid and sort of challenging it is. I mean, you make a mistake in watercolour and that kills the watercolour. It’s not like an [oil] painting, which you can keep going back into and fixing. In watercolour, you do that and it just keeps getting worse. It’s got this fabulous discipline, and I love it for that.
Q You’re an art icon, so much so that critic Paddy Johnson’s blog is subtitled, “As relevant as Eric Fischl.” How does your status present challenges?
A I didn’t know about that blog. So maybe I have a self-protective mechanism — one that keeps me sane, I guess. How do you deal with stuff like that, you know? I don’t go around thinking of myself as an icon; it wouldn’t be very productive in the studio.

Read the rest of the interview at the Ampersand, the Post's arts hub.

(Image of Eric Fischl's Untitled 2010 (five feet wide in situ) from Barbara Edwards Contemporary)

No comments: