After six months of studio time, and a week in the gallery prior to the opening installing his latest exhibition, Richard Colman opened his “Keep Out The Light” exhibition at New Image Art recently. We have been watching out for updates on how the show was coming together, as Colman’s shows are usually very installation heavy, and always exciting. Richard was pounding the tools until the early hours each day with the install, and the scale & intensity of this show certainly doesn’t disappoint – geometric patterns and bold colors interlaced with some of his more figurative work, including some familiar characters.
AM caught up with Richard just ahead of the opening for an interview. Check it out, along with some images from the show after the jump.
Arrested Motion (AM:) I was attempting to describe your work to someone at the weekend and realized that it is so hard to classify or pigeonhole, which I think is testament to the individuality of your work. The closest I came was that one of your paintings could be the bastard child of a Marcel Dzama and James Marshall pairing. How would you begin to describe your work?
Richard Colman (RC:) I don’t think I would, it’s better to leave that part to other people I think.
AM: On the subject of James Marshall, I’ve seen him describe you as ‘his nemesis’ previously, which made me laugh. You guys have shown together previously – what sort of relationship do you enjoy?
RC: We Have know each other for a long time now. I love James, I guess I see him as sort of an older brother at this point. I owe James a lot, many of the first shows I did I got because of his help and support. He’s a good egg.
AM: You’ve shown a great level of progression within your art, and your style has evolved and changed a whole lot since I first came across your work. Do you find the need to continually evolve your output? Is there ever a fear of stagnation if you don’t continue on this path?
RC: Yes I think it’s important to evolve. I’m not really afraid of any kind of stagnation in my work I just don’t think it’s me to stick with one thing or another for too long. Whether the outcome is good or bad, I think there is an importance in the attempt to move forward with whatever it is you are doing. I’m not really comfortable with doing the same sort of stuff over and over again – it’s not for me. For the most part, I try and aim for things I think are a little further than what I think I can accomplish. It doesn’t always work out but for me, the attempt is what’s important and I think I’m more satisfied working that way.
AM: Have you found that your output has changed alongside your personal life? I understand you had some pretty wild early years in your career as an artist…
RC: It changes a little I guess, but I have always worked pretty hard regardless of what is going on in my personal life. I don’t really think it’s possible to make anything without there being at least some reflection of the person who makes it in it. So, I guess the things I make have probably changed with me but I don’t try to analyze it to deeply. I make it and it is what it is.
AM: How important was your coast to coast relocation in all of this? Do you find a different kind of inspiration in San Francisco (and earlier Los Angeles) than you found on the East coast?
RC: I find that any change in environment brings new inspiration and ideas. I don’t know how important those moves were exactly, but I have definitely gotten a lot out of them. I’m sure if I moved back to the east coast or anywhere else I would get something new out of that as well. A lot more has changed between then and now than just my location so I can’t really say what importance there is in just the moves. If I had stayed put I’m sure I would have gotten something else out of that experience.
AM: I clicked on your website from the other day using a really old version of explorer to show a work colleague your art and got the message ‘Richard Colman hates your browser’. This made them instantly like you before actually seeing your work! What is the one thing that does actually antagonize you the most?
RC: That’s funny. I didn’t even know it did that. The credit will have to go to Ben Visser, the guy who designed my site, for that one. He’s rad, that’s funny. I find life in general pretty antagonizing but I do my best not to let it get to me.
AM: Geometric abstraction / patterns and the rainbow palettes have become a dominant part of your work in recent times. What does this bold use of colour signify for you?
RC: Color is not something I am very comfortable with, I am not a natural colorist. For me it takes a lot of work to figure that stuff out so part of it for me is just the challenge, but I also like the idea of making thematically dark paintings using very bright colors.
AM: And what about some of the regular cast of characters that regularly make appearances in your work? The bears, the lions, the undertaker looking guy…. What significance do they have? You seem to have not portrayed the red cloaked figure recently….
RC: I don’t know, they sort of come in and out of the work depending on if I feel like they fit or have some role to play in what I’m making. For me, the paintings don’t really feel complete unless there is some sort of character in it. Because of feeling that way, I sometimes will leave them out as well – I guess to irritate myself. As far as similar ones showing up regularly, I guess I sort of feel like they’re friends or that I’ve gotten to know them over the years so I like to see them when I can.
AM: You have a new exhibition of your work at New Image Art this month entitled ‘Keep Out the Light’. I find it an interesting title as your work seems to be full of light through the rainbow motifs you use, but also full of darkness though some of the occult symbolism and subject matter that you use. How did you arrive at that title?
RC: It’s just sort of about getting lost in things and being consumed by things.
AM: We saw some images from your studio recently on New Image’s blog and it looks like you are going up a notch in terms of scale of your work – it looks very impressive. Is this the largest you have worked until now?
RC: No, for the most part my shows have always included large wall sized work. however, this time I’ve taken the installation side of things a little bit further though.
AM: You worked with Chris Blackstock, who is a kick-ass artist himself, on some of the sculptural pieces for the show. How did this collaboration come about? How important is it to you to work collaboratively with other artists?
RC: Yeah, Chris is rad and was a lot of help on this project. I try to work with other people or do things out of my comfort zone when ever I can. I think it is an important part of growth to work with others. The scope of my ideas and what I can accomplish on my own is limited. I find that by working with others, I learn and am exposed to things that I otherwise wouldn’t be. I don’t get to do it as much as I would like, but I do it when I can.
AM: What other materials and mediums have been used in the upcoming show?
RC: Pencils, paper, paint, wood, porcelain, plaster, glue, nails, tape… lots of things.
AM: How long has ‘Keep Out the Light’ been your focus and how many pieces have you actually made within this body of work for the show?
RC: I’ve been thinking about it for a while but it’s been my main focus for probably the last five or six months. I’m not sure exactly how many but around two sculptures, 20 drawings and 20 paintings and the installation.
AM: Do you paint obsessively when preparing for a show – are you a work all hours kind of guy or do you stick to a regular routine?
RC: I work all hours pretty regularly.
AM: Finally, what’s the one thing, the rock, that keeps you focused and inspired?
RC: I don’t know, I just sort of get things in my head and I have to get them done in some form or another. I can’t really help it.
AM: Thanks for your time Richard – our very best of wishes with the show. The work we’ve seen so far looks stunning and we can’t wait to see more!
RC: Thanks a lot Sven. Talk to you soon my friend.