Artist Q & A: Gordon Wiens

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your process? What materials do you use to create the rich texture in your work?

Recently I have been creating rough drawings as a starting point for some of my paintings, based on the essence of weathered objects that I have found on beaches or elsewhere. Sometimes an idea for a new painting emerges from a previous painting.

The beginning of each painting tends to be loosely based on a feeling I have in relation to an eroded object or a fragment of nature such as a rock or a withered flower. I start making marks and textures on a canvas based on a shape or colour. Throughout the process, I think about form, texture and colour and apply multiple layers of acrylic paint and various mediums to canvas. Ultimately, the painting dictates its own direction as the process of painting progresses. The layers build to create a sense of depth and dimension, leading to the final patina and structure of each painting.

2. Do you see your works as unique or as part of a series?

While there is definitely continuity in my work as it evolves over time, this series represents a new body of work.

3. Do any particular lived experiences or memories, if any, inform your work?

I don’t rely on specific experiences and memories to inform individual paintings. Cumulative memories of my experiences in nature do play a role, however, I rely more on the objects and fragments of nature that I collect and keep in my studio.

4. Upon viewing the work in ‘Nature Transformed’, one is reminded of the Japanese aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi: a worldview that centers on the acceptance of transience, impermanence and imperfection. How consciously are you thinking about this idea of wabi-sabi? Is it an artistic practice as well as a personal or spiritual practice for you, too?

Wabi-sabi values and aesthetic principles resonate strongly with me and have a significant influence on my work. I’m very conscious of these ideas when I am painting and over time I have incorporated them into my way of working and my personal aesthetic.

While this is a predominant perspective for me, I have multiple sources of inspiration and reference for my work, including the work of other abstract painters.

Inside the artist's studio with Eddie the dog

5. Which necessities do you require when making art?

For me, the basic necessities are simply a space to work in, the materials I need, and regular dedicated time.

6. Your previous body of work took some reference from hard edge abstraction with an emphasis on structured linear patterns, why the departure?

I didn’t make a conscious decision to depart from structured linear patterns, the shift flowed naturally through the process of working. My recent paintings still include structured hard-edged forms and I see this change as a transition that evolved, rather than a complete departure from earlier work.

Each of my paintings is, in a sense, an experiment and new ways of working happen both by accident and through purposeful changes to the ways that I apply paint. My current work represents new interpretations of elements of nature with forms in the initial layers that are looser and more spontaneous. I have no way of knowing how my paintings will evolve over time.


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