Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brian Chippendale interview – part 1

I interviewed Brian Chippendale at his Providence home and studio on May 16, 2008, in connection with his art show “Human Mold: New Growth by Brian Chippendale” now at Stairwell Gallery in Providence. Here are some of the things he had to say:
  • “I had a computer phase in eighth and ninth grade where I was playing long drawn out fantasy games. I loved those things. You can get so absorbed in them. I like it when people build this whole world and then you can go in there and visit. I just think it’s awesome to see humans make fantasy worlds. Part of it’s just this sort of depression of how unfantastical the real world seems at times, and how hard the real world is. And it’s a bummer because the more time you spend in a fantasy world the less time you spend exploring the real world. And there’s amazing things out there.”

  • “A lot of the stuff I was doing last year, the year before, I feel like I was doing sort of overt political storytelling. I had pictures of people talking about ‘developers are evil.’ I had one, it was like a war scene, I did a lot of soldiers around a guy with his arm blown off, a child with his arm blown off, roughly. And then at some point I just got tired of doing overt meaning or something. So now I’ve been trying to have more fun with the colors and sort of let it be more open to interpretation what’s going on.”

  • “In this group of stuff I’m trying to get away from that feeling that I had to be an illustrator. Started trying to get into the potential of collaging more. And I haven’t exactly found a way to balance the two out.”

  • “Some of this stuff, like this one, which has this guy [in a chair] with balloons. I like to listen to the radio all the time, a lot of NPR and BBC and stuff. Just a couple weeks ago or a week ago or something there was a news report about this priest in South America who tied balloons to himself and then flew away. Last I heard it had been a day, he had flown out mistakenly out over the ocean, and it had been like a day and a few of the balloons had been spotted. So like the dude was dead, obviously. So I just thought that was just almost like this hysterical, horrible but beautiful idea. The most dreamy guy throws himself into the air and that’s it. But when you’re listening to the radio half the time they don’t ever follow up on the stories so it lends to the dreamy quality, you can pretend he’s fine, he’s living on a cloud somewhere.”

  • “When I’m working on this stuff I spend a lot more time listening to the radio and then I remember why I was making the more political stuff before. Because it just drives you crazy listening to all the ridiculous crap we do as a country.”

  • “I was trying to make this series of like these two people and then there would be like some voyeur watching. Just human interaction. On some level it’s like what else is there. I’ve always been interested in figures and it’s just sort of that’s what it’s all about, just how humans treat each other on a one-on-one basis.”

  • “I think real estate stuff got me interested and got other people interested [in political artwork]. Yeah, maybe that was like a launching off point. But then maybe when your existence is threatened, you start thinking about the threats to everyone or something. But then when it goes away you stop thinking about it. It’s sort of like when you hear a news story, ‘that’s insane, this sucks,’ and then a week later you’re just sort of like “Oh well, life goes on for me.’ At some point maybe a year or two I burned out on being so angry about stuff all the time. And now I’m kind of coming back. It comes in waves. Maybe it has to do with the election.”

  • “I have a fascination with all this crap, all this garbage that’s generated in the world and how everyone is always arguing who is more morally straight than the other person, but on a fundamental level the States, all sorts of places, it’s just a trash culture. We just produce so much shit and so much toxicity. We have no right to say that we don’t deserve some kind of horrible fate. We just do. I feel that as a culture – I don’t want bad things to happen to anyone – but I think it’s hysterical for a country full of abusive garbage-filled unhealthy consumers to just say they have the moral high ground.”

  • “I like having connections to the past. I like having new stuff. But I like dragging stuff with me that’s old. Things that inspired me before still inspire me. And I like juxtaposing them with new things that inspire me. I think that’s sort of interesting. I don’t feel the need to cut myself off and start new again. I still think there’s lots of unexplored stuff on this path that I’ve been on, that I’ve been on for 10 or 15 years maybe. … I wonder sometimes if I’m being close-minded about my approach. I don’t want to regurgitate the exact same thing over and over again. But I also love what I love.”
More wisdom of Brian Chippendale (plus studio photos) tomorrow.


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