Gregory Euclide grew up north of Milwaukee in a rural setting whose town he describes as one "that you might find under a christmas tree". Making a living as an artist and teacher, his works are multilayered landscapes within landscapes which are immediately stunning and bear the weight of prolonged inspection with numerous details and narratives.
He is also very open about his work and has on many occasions shared his processes both on his website and in interviews. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to put my questions to him and feature his work on SiouxWIRE.
On your site and in interviews, you talk a lot about memories in regards to your work. Is there a particularly important memory from your childhood that has influenced your work?
Not one, many. I have a really bad memory. I think for several reasons. Yet I remember specific things really well. It is frustrating. I do not remember my childhood very well. But I remember spending a lot of time walking though fields and playing in forests. I was really lucky to live in a landscape that was full of rivers, ponds, forests, fields, and no other houses. Of course, all that land I used to move though is gone now. It has been converted to houses.
Can you tell us about your usage of layered materials?
I started by working with layers of acrylic sheet. Painting and drawing on paper, using implied depth was not enough for me. Yet, I liked the gesture of drawing. So, I did not want to loose that. I wanted real depth in a drawing. I was interested with the fact that, with the panes of acrylic, the viewers actual gaze is moving through planes. Physically seeing one first, then another, then another. I was using those layers to display meaning. Things that dealt with the micro, the macro and the familiar.
Now, I don't think about the mixing or layering of materials. It is simply a question of "what needs to be there?" or "what is the best solution for this image I am looking for?"
When I look at your work, I feel a hint of an oriental influence or Francis Bacon; is oriental watercolour or Francis Bacon among the artists you admire?
I don't know a lot about Bacon. I have seen his shows when I was younger, and have seen many of his works, But I can not say he is an influence. The Oriental landscapes are. It is as if you feel really strongly about something and then you see it there in a museum... it is a comforting feeling. I do not study them. I do not even know the name of a painting or painter, but that is not important to me. It is important that when I see them I feel confirmation. I agree with their structure.
"...none of the works are really about specific places or anything specific at all..."
Can you tell us about your approach to naming your pieces?
Titles are difficult for me, and fun at the same time. Since none of the works are really about specific places or anything specific at all, it becomes difficult to figure out what is unique in the work, from a creation standpoint. It is like kissing, let's say. If you have to name each kiss you gave to someone it would be hard. Every time you kiss you do it for a reason, but you may not have a title for it, or a specific reason. Yet, you do it again and again, as maybe a testament or a symbol.
So, the titles come afterwards, as I am looking at them thinking, "How is this one different than that one?"
Recently, your works have been expanding beyond the canvas into three dimensions and you’ve been using new materials; what do you feel are the differences between these pieces and those created with your established methods in terms of expression?
I just spent a couple weeks revising my artist statement and there is a paragraph which deals with that. I will paste it in here: I Have Made A Significant Move From Line That Describes Movement On A Flat Plane To Line That Defines Forms In Space. There Is Now An “Experience” Of Viewing The Work That Does Not Allow It To Be Viewed From One Vantage Point. One Must Move Through The Work And Investigate Its Isolated Areas. Structurally, It Is Important To Me That The Viewer In The Gallery, Embark On A Process Of Discovery Similar To My Own Within The Landscape. The Contrast Between Flat, Pictorial Space And The Deep Space Of The Exploded Forms Establishes A Relationship Between The Real Environment And Landscape Painting As A “Window To The World.”
"Art is communication, and to do it from behind a wall seems funny to me."
A number of artists, particularly those most recgonised by traditional institutions, tend to avoid having a presence on the internet, but you your works remain easily accessible through your site which boasts a wealth of imagery and information. First, why do you think so many artists avoid the internet? And why have you chosen the alternative?
I suppose it is a mistake... if I want to be a darling of the institutions. But I like the idea of an average person, being able to see my name or work and say "I would like to see more." I sell most of my work through my website. People see it on a website, like it, and want to have it. I like that much more than the alternative. Many times I get to meet the people and I actually like that. Art is communication, and to do it from behind a wall seems funny to me. So, I make myself available. I am not changing my practice or letting it define my practice. I am simply offering an option. Suggest a venue in your home town and I will try to bring the originals there, they are much more interesting. But the world is pretty large to physically be in every city. and in the end, I think it is about making work available to people like me.
What are your feelings in regard to digital art?
I can't say that I like the feel of it. The product is slick. Some of the things I have seen are pretty complex, but it always leaves me wanting more.. I think I like it better when it is used in conjunction with real things. Just like music. I like the analog digital mix. Like Solo Andata, Dictaphone, and the likes. All one or the other seems flat and adhering to some imposed rule.
"Who is calling it art and why? Those types of questions are really good to be thinking about."
In your bio, you make reference to “The Wind up Bird”. Is this in reference to Haruki Murakami and if so, what in particular about his work interests you?
I get on kicks. I have to read everything by one person to understand it. I did that with Hesse in college. I never found another writer that peaked my interest until I read Murakami. Something about the layers of stories, the surreal images, the sense of mystery, the way it was written. Of course my description of it will never be close to it. Something about the books came close to me. Was it longing? I am not sure. I just needed to read them all.
You have a section on your site of “Music that makes the paint happen”; can you tell a little bit about the relationship between the music and your work, and your selections?
If I sell a painting, .25 goes to new music. I am so happy to sell work, because it means finding more music. I simply love music. Sounds juvenile, but I never lost the passion to collect and find new music. Right now I am collecting things from Kranky, CCO, Leaf, Hefty, Morr, Moteer, and so on.
Music makes me want to paint. It exists in time. It can hit things in you that don't stop bouncing for weeks. It can phrase situations, and define new ones. I was an awful kid, making my parents listen to all this music that was pretty far out on a limb. On car rides, at home. I needed it to be part of my life & I wanted to share it. How could something that effected me so intensely be so annoying to others? I found out quickly I had a desire for the authentic and the unique and not everyone else did. I had to learn to not take it personally, and at 34 I still just want to sit on the edge of a ravine and listen to Solo Andata with someone who feels as deeply about it as I do. Hard to find.
In your teaching experience, is there a common pitfall that your students fell into while working and what advice would you give to artists beginning their careers?
A common pitfall is not knowing what has happened, and what is happening right now. What is considered art, and why? Who is calling it art and why? Those types of questions are really good to be thinking about. The more you know, the more you can draw upon and create from an informed point of view -- not just sitting over in the corner spending all your energy reinventing the wheel, which to a certain extent we all do.
And any advice you would give to parents to nurture their childrens’ artistic skills?
Advice to parents: take your child to as many openings and shows as possible. Get your child magazines, Dwell, Art in America, Metropolis, and so on to get them thinking about art on a monthly basis.
Thank you, Gregory. I'm always looking forward to seeing where your work goes next.
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