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Interview with Sebastian Blanck

June 17, 2016

Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic background? Take us back to when you first became interested in art. How did you develop your skills? What impact does this have on you now?

I always knew I wanted to be an artist. When I was five my mother attended the Maryland Institute College of Art. Some days after my kindergarten class let out for the day, she would take me to one of her classes. I absolutely loved it. I struggled as a student because I wanted to be in an art school instead of a traditional elementary school. Instead of doing my homework, I drew constantly. When I finally got to art school (Rhode Island School of Design) I completely embraced the opportunity. It was the first time I ever felt I was in the place I was meant to be, doing what I was meant to do­. After I graduated in 1998, I had the good fortune of working for the painter, Alex Katz, for 3 years. It was a great way to see the ins and outs of maintaining a serious and consistent studio practice.

You are a musician as well as a painter. Does your musical practice play a role in your artwork? How?

Writing a song is a chance to use a different vocabulary to express myself. It’s nice to have an alternative creative mode that allows me to explore ideas in a different way. I don’t try to control the outcome, I just let the song (or painting) tell me what needs to happen. Writing songs and playing in a band gives me a chance to work collaboratively. That doesn’t happen in my painting practice.

You have a very specific painting technique that involves collage. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you came to use this technique? Why is it important?

I am making images in this manner because I like the interplay between the loose gesture touch painted directly on the surface combined with the flat elements of collage. This technique also allows me to work quickly. My goal is to make a painting a day as a visual journal of my life. I also paint on stretched paper which has a distinct organic feel unlike the machine-made weave of canvas or linen.

Your paintings walk this line of impressionism and pop art, who/where do your aesthetic inspirations come from? We know that you paint based on your life, your wife, your kids, etc. But beyond that, what inspires you?

I try and capture a sense of light in my paintings that is true to the reality in the painting. I don’t worry about observational light. So, in that way, I have different intentions from impressionists or observational painters. My work may have a flatness that is similar to some pop artist and pop images in general. I think that comes from the material I work with and the tools I use. I also use a knife as a drawing tool. I paint pieces of paper in a variety of colors and shades then cut out the sections I want. I like cutting the brushstrokes. So the knife creates the edge rather than the brush. I love Degas, Monet, Bonnard, Vuillard, along with Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, DeKooning and Bridget Riley. It makes sense that my images are a combination of those visual styles. Intimate, poppy, loose, gestural, hard edged. I never try and emulate any particular style or painter. I begin a piece and try and be open to whatever possibilities the image holds. My favorite subjects are definitely my wife and children. I can’t believe how beautiful they are. I will never tire of painting them. I also love to make paintings of other artists, musicians and friends that I admire and feel fortunate I’m in contact with.

Who is your favorite artist right now and why?

I am a huge fan of Isca Greeenfield-Sanders (my wife), James Turrell, Cecily Brown, Robert Lazzarini, Richard Linklater, Darren Arronofsky, and Elliott Smith.

What are some of your plans and goals for the future?

I don’t really have any grand plans. I just want to be able to make paintings and music. Having the support of galleries, institutions or music labels is wonderful but with or without them I hope to continue to go to the studio to discover what comes next. My ambition is to try and make the best work I can make day in and day out. To always explore and always grow.

SEBASTIAN BLANCK

Questions by Sarah Sickles