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Home FEATURES Interview with Jeff Depner

Interview with Jeff Depner
Written by Rob Loane   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:48

Whether conceptually motivated or intuitively created, the process of painting has been a main attribute in art for sometime now. Controlling the surface of a canvas is at the root of most contemporary painting. Vancouver native Jeff Depner's work creates avenues for visual discovery through a process based aesthetic. Layers upon layers of paint each relating to the next. Masking some, if not all, of the past creates a visual history within. The work ebbs and flows between graphic qualities and thick painterly styles with muted but contemporary feeling colors. The constant process of ‘improvised moves' allows some of the work to be based in grid like structures. It allows some of the smaller paintings a chance for inquiry in constructive qualities and aspects of painting, inserting his work into the long history of painting.

Written by Rob Loane

What is the process of making these paintings? Is it strategic, do you have something in mind previous to the start, or is the end result derived primarily through process?

I usually have a general idea of what I want to do going into a painting, but it's usually a series of improvised moves piled on top of each other until something starts to makes sense. There's a lot of building up and tearing down going on, it's a slow process.

Layers are such a huge part of your work, each interacting with the previous, as you say. How do you decide what should be layered over, and what should stay?

Deciding what stays and what gets painted over is a balancing act, long periods of looking followed by painting things in and out, and moving things around on the canvas. Not much escapes being painted out at some point.

Your process seems to be one of give and take, how do you know when a painting is done?

It's tricky, usually when I can't think of anything else to do to it.

During the making, is your focus more on compositional or material investigation?

They are of equal importance, I try to have composition and materiality operating on the same level so the pieces exert themselves on a physical level.

Keeping with the thread of materiality. Some of the layers are thicker, having a more physical presence on the surface. Are the depths of some of these layers intended to do anything spatially?

The layers aren't used as a spatial device necessarily, more of a way of indicating history.

You have a small amount of photography on your website, how do you relate these to your paintings? Or is it separated entirely?

Yes and no. The photographs don't relate directly to the paintings, but things filter through back and forth. It's all just a way of seeing.

Why does there seem to be a disconnect between the "Reconfigured grid paintings" and your other works? Are the other works an attempt to break away from the grid?

I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, but the smaller works are a chance to experiment with things a bit more.

The colors you use are muted, but still connect to contemporary culture. What are you trying to say outside the color relationships you make within these paintings?

I'm looking more for a gut reaction.

Is the context of the response you want supposed to be based solely on the painting and its color? What then are your views on aesthetics values in art?

The colours are not chosen for any conceptual reasons, they are usually intuitive and are meant to elicit an emotional response from the viewer. I try to let aesthetics occur as a byproduct of the problem solving that goes on while making a painting, although it's easier said than done.

What is the main focus or objective goal behind your work?

Make paintings I'm happy with. Contribute in some way to the discourse of painting.

Can you elaborate on this? Which discourse do you want to connect and communicate with? Do you associate with any more than others?

A discourse with the history of not just abstract, but all painting. Letting aspects of past vocabularies seep into the work and then trying to build and distort that language allows me to engage with works of the past while trying to figure out new possibilities for painting.

Who are your greatest influences (artists, books, writings)?

Philip Guston, Ron Gorchov, Frank Stella, Robert Ryman, Richard Diebenkorn, Willem De Kooning, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Picasso, Bonnard, Brice Marden, Richard Tuttle, Jim Lee, Jonathan Lasker, Peter Halley, Arshille Gorky. http://jeffdepner.com/

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contact FF

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ABOUT HEADLANDS
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Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

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Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

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The Albatross and the Shipping Container

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The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


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