Lina: What and who inspires your paintings?
Penelope: My work is inspired by my own emotional complexity and that of women, in general. That complexity exists in men also. I just happen to primarily paint women because I am a woman and so that feels more natural for me. It’s really about the human spirit. Growing up in Louisiana in a conservative culture and moving to the Northeast in 1991 inspires a lot of themes in my work also. Also, my mother was an interior designer with quite a personality. Both aspects of her life inspire my work both emotionally and visually. Because I’ve spent so much time writing and love stories, it seems natural that my art should include elements of story and character.
Lina: Who are your main artistic influences?[caption id="attachment_1399" align="alignright" width="237"] The World is Full of Magic[/caption]
Penelope: As far as the greats, I have been influenced by Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh in terms of their emotion and honesty. I’ve also been influenced by Dorothea Tanning, Kandinsky and Picasso. Past and current artists who push the envelope in unique, honest ways inspire me. I’m not impressed or inspired by artists who go for the shock factor, thinking that is honesty. That’s unoriginal to me; if that’s all they have to give, I find that sad. I’m attuned to learning from others but staying true to myself. Sometimes that takes courage because you look around and realize that what you’re doing or who you are may not fit the mold, may seem boring, or less chic than someone else’s work, but you keep going knowing that perhaps no one will care or notice the value that you may have to offer.
To read the entire interview, go here:http://www.godztaylor.com/#!penelope-pzrekop/cdxx
|Who Am I in This Crowd?|
detail of larger work
In his 2009 interview, Currin also said that a true artist has less to say in the type of art he ends up creating than one might think. I get that, too, and realize that, like Currin, figurative art seems to be my path. And I want people to feel uniquely drawn into my work rather than removed from it. I don't want to create a categorical wall between my art and the viewer simply by virtue of the work being figurative.
Seeing older figurative work and being hit with the realization that this specific person once lived can be a powerful reminder of the passage of time and the never ending surge of humanity. But what if the viewer could feel something less retrograde? What if I could capture something more alive than merely a specific person you've never met? What if you looked at the figure and saw every person, a common soul, emotion, and that recognition made you think and feel and somehow evolve?
|Detail of larger work in progress|
If that's true, I believe He does it for the sake of progress. He isn't looking back; He's looking forward. That's what I want to do.
23" x 15" Acrylic, Casein and Ink
― Toni Morrison
|Can You Hear My Voice?|
25" x 40" Acrylic, Ink & Pastel on Canvas
I remembered a wonderful book I read by Kazuo Ishiguro. His novel, Never Let Me Go, is about a society who raises children for the purpose of donating organs once they mature into adults. The kids grow up in special "schools" and are taught their purpose early in life. One of the administrators involved keeps a program going for the kids that focuses on art. Their days are filled with creating art. They sense that it's important yet they don't really know why. It turns out that the woman believes art is the one tangible thing that can prove these kids are human. That they are individuals and worthy of life. The art displays their souls.
2012 has been a challenging year in terms of keeping up with my Aberration Nation interviews; I've been hyper-focused on my art work, which continues to evolve. I'm considering changes to the Aberration Nation focus; details will be forthcoming.
Today the focus is ART!
I began painting in January of 2008; next month will mark my fifth year. At this point in my life, five years doesn't seem long, yet in these five short years, I've moved light years ahead in terms of my art work.
After having the urge to paint for several years, I finally began. I never painted a single picture until that day, but had some deep arrogant conviction that I might just be able to do a decent job of it; I wanted to try. For some reason, I needed to try. I had no idea what I was doing. I took 6 2-hour classes that covered the basics. From day one, I chose to paint my original ideas. I never had any desire to copy or paint anything that looked like a photograph. That wasn't what I was searching for or hoping to express, and I knew it.
Finally picking up a paintbrush was the best decision I've ever made in terms of both my creative and emotional growth. Five years later seems the perfect time to reflect.
In addition to completing my life, in many ways painting started my life ....
2008 Representative Works:
|Piece of Meat|
In 2009, I finished writing, Centerpieces, a novel based on the death of Vincent van Gogh. As I attempted to gather some early review comments, I contacted Bob Hogge, Monkdogz Urban Art (NYC), to ask if he would read the book. It happened to be the one moment of his life that he had a little extra time, so he agreed. He liked the novel so much that he decided to give me a call. As we chatted, I casually mentioned that I'd also begun painting. He asked to see my work but I was hesitant. He convinced me to send him a few jpegs; I was not too excited about this professional artist and New York City Gallery owner seeing my beginner work. After all, I was a writer not an artist.
To my surprise, Bob found something uniquely interesting about what I'd done in just one year and so we began to correspond about my work in progress. He dubbed my ability, "a diamond in the rough." He encouraged me to be brave in all the steps I was taking to improve, to express myself, and to do both in my own unique way. That year, I began experimenting with layered canvas as well as other methods.
2009 Representative Works:
|Stuck in Immovable Growth|
|Slice of Suburbia, 2009|
By 2010, some of my early work had been shown by Philadelphia, California and Italy. Also, the
Museum of Art in Caserta, Italy acquired one of my pieces. I continued to work closely with Bob Hogge. I continued to layer canvas and began focusing on more figurative work. By the end of 2010, I began to move back away from the layered canvas approach, instead adding complexity and depth to the work in other ways.
2010 Representative Works:
|Paper Doll, No. 3|
|Paper Doll, No. 7|
|Shattered in Black and White|
Jan - Jun 2011 Representative Works:
|Evolution of an Artist|
Jul - Dec 2011 Representative Works:
|I Was Born this Way ... please stay|
|I Never Meant to Upset You|
Jan - Jun 2012 Representative Works:
|It's All Inside|
|They Follow Me|
Jul - Dec 2012 Representative Works:
|She Leads and I Follow|
|What's the Point?|
At this time, my work is presented by galleries in New York City, Central America, and Europe. Monkdogz Urban Art (NYC) is currently featuring my work Gallery & Studio Magazine. My nudes have been selected numerous times by guest New York City gallery directors and owners on the Barebrush art site. Two pieces have been acquired by Italian museums, and other opportunities are in the works.
I recently made the following video to showcase some of the work I completed in 2012:
Since 2008, I've painted approximately 300 works. Those shown here are a small representation of that body of work. To see more of my recent art and find a list of the galleries representing my work, visit my art site or join me on Facebook.
I'm still just getting started ...
I met Jean Marc a year or two ago through Monkdogz Urban Art (NYC). We struck up a friendship after I interviewed him on Aberration Nation. I later also interviewed Dominic Allan, the film director/producer, who was so taken by Jean Marc's story that he spent four or so years making a documentary about the artist's incredible life.
This weekend, I finally saw the film, CALVET, in its entirety. I knew a lot about it before hand. What I didn't know was how deeply I would identify with certain aspects of Jean Marc's tale.
We all have some sort of story; we have our own personal demons, although for some of us those demons are more terrifying than others. The question I most often ask myself is how many of those demons were tossed at me, and how many did I conjure up myself. And for those that I did create, how in God's name could I have avoided it?
Some days I look in the mirror and see a monster. Maybe you do as well. I don't want to see it but I know it's there. I hide it. I chase it. I squelch it and cover it up. And in that never ending game--that dysfunctional relationship I have with myself--I sometimes love it, too. If I didn't, the whole stinking business wouldn't be so difficult.
For Jean Marc, it was ultimately the language of art and a profound love for his son that propelled him back to life. This theme was brilliantly seared into my heart during a few pivotal scenes in the movie.
In another scene, Jean Marc describes how as a teen / very young adult he was violently raped by a large, brutish stranger. The audience sat holding our breath as we listened to Jean Marc's moving confessional. How he sat outside on a park bench for two days after the incident, numb and dying inside, angered by those who had hurt him. After the rape, the monsters in Jean Marc came into full force, determined to not only hurt others but to also hurt himself. It's a punishment we need to inflict on ourselves. Somehow we blame ourselves as a way to hide, to push the pain we can't bare away. Let me feel this and that and whatever other horrible thing I can so as to wipe all this other stuff away. In the end, it's an emotional trap.
At Monkdogz' exhibition of Jean Marc's work (which runs through tomorrow), artist Esther Barend and I talked about the scene and I said to her, "I've never been raped like that ....but I feel like I have."
Isn't that a ballsy thing to say? Should I be ashamed?
No, because perhaps you and I haven't experienced exactly what happened to Jean Marc that terrible day, but we may have felt some of the same emotions. Being used, physically hurt, and/or severely mistreated by someone bigger, stronger, and domineering causes a universal pain. Jean Marc had the guts to tell us how it feels and as we listened, we knew we were hearing something profoundly honest.
I grew up being told that Jesus is the answer to everything. I know there are millions of people out there who believe and will testify to the healing power of that message. I've heard all the testimony. I was spoon fed the information for year upon year, the same years that my own monsters were developing.
Jean Marc describes how he stumbled upon some buckets of paint during the lowest point in his life, a time when he was literally taking his own life. In a drug induced rage, he "fought" with the paint and the surfaces nearest to him as if it were all an extension of his misery, anger, and hopelessness.
In my own way, I've experience a similar struggle. I channeled life into something inanimate and then struggled with it. I fought with it as if to save my life somehow. In a fit of rage, I once sat in my car on the side of the road and violently ripped an entire bulky textbook apart into tiny pieces as if it was all that I hated, all that I wanted to conquer in myself that I couldn't pull forth and destroy. Instead the book became something alive that I could hurt and once I started, I couldn't stop; I ripped every single page to shreds as if it were the flesh and blood of a person being ripped from its spine, and then I ripped the front and back covers from the stringy, tight center. It was in that same week that I also attempted to take my own life.
Such was Jean Marc's nightmarish battle times 1,000, and in the end, he stepped back and saw his emotions. I too, saw my emotions in the mutilation of something I loved most in the world (books). Maybe in some way, you've seen yours. For Jean Marc, it was magnified and redemptive because in that moment he found salvation.
He found art.
Jean Marc's remarkable discovery was the scene that brought back to me the idea of art being like Jesus ... the reason for the season. The end of the road, the pot of gold we search for in all our suffering and flight from whatever monsters and demons life has shown us, and from those we've created for ourselves.