An Interview with Greg Drasler
Greg Drasler (b.1952) is a painter, who focused on metaphorical depictions of construction sites for psychological subjective abilities. He tried viewers to be a full stopped by his painting, which is a representation of offering the translation and remainders of the familiar, the exotic, customs and movement. Since the past 30 years, his paintings have been the subject of sixteen one-person exhibitions and included in over thirty group shows.
Jiyong Sim: What’s the journey that led you to New York City?
Greg Drasler: I met a curator when I lived in the Midwest who liked my work, encouraged me to move to New York and gave me my first museum show. The curator was Marcia Tucker and I have been painting ever since for 35 years in New York. This was a very fortunate beginning to what has, of course, has been an up and down process. The studio keeps going for me.
Jiyong Sim: What is the most significant part of your art, and how do you define or describe your art?
Greg Drasler: Metaphorical and psychological could describe the shared something among all of my paintings. The symbolic, fictional truth that painting represents for me gives me the sensation of driving and riding at the same time. I seem to need to paint to see what I am thinking. I’m thinking lots of things. Most notably now I am thinking about the horizon, the road, and property divisions.
Jiyong Sim: How your artistic language changed through time passed, and where do you get inspiration for your art?
Greg Drasler: As expressions of my own conditions, I get inspiration for my work from inside and out. Impacted by the "media blitzed new normal" I remember back to simpler paintings of “Jobs in Heaven.” One metaphorical category has grown out of the last for me. As the subjects of my painting have changed, the techniques that I use have changed too. What felt like a category of subject material in the past now begins to work like an algorithm. Inspiration feels more like being attentive and awake to what is around me.
Jiyong Sim: What’s your proudest, most favorite project?
Greg Drasler: "Stratocaster Suite” a 35-foot painting in six panels imagining a two-lane blacktop drive. Squeezed between a computed sky and a property-map grounding the pull of the horizon to move. I tend to like the work I am making at the moment, the best, Through episodically attached frames I have been Road Building with my paintings. There are such simple ways to tie together a sense of the road and the cinema between places. I love it when it stars to simple and then becomes complicated.
Jiyong Sim: How does your process of art making works?
Greg Drasler: Sometimes slow and sometimes fast. I collect volumes of material, images, texts, music, and notes. I work in series at the same time that I work on singularities. One form seems to feed the other. I work on dozens of paintings at a time in a small studio. It is a house of cards sometimes as one set of paintings shuffles over another. I work in series, suites, and sequences.
Jiyong Sim: How do you define the concept of fine art to yourself?
Greg Drasler: Anything that takes me out of my experience of myself into another. There is an experience that I have with art when the hairs stand up on my arms. This is a hard thing to define. Sometimes it happens because of prior knowledge of a work. Other times, however, on the broad band of my perceptions a work can twang like a guitar string. It is intellectually agile, material compelling and resonant.
Jiyong Sim: As in a point that we are living in the period that art is part of world and world is a part of art, what do you think the unique element that art can produce to the public?
Greg Drasler: Empathy. I don’t see a separation between the World and the Art. Art depends on the world. The world sees itself through art. Branding is good effective advertising seeking to claim property and colonize a territory. Art holds up a mirror or is the place of the mirror to our human, national, spiritual, economic and existential concerns. I’m sure leaving something out.
Jiyong Sim: The concept of art is continuously and radically changing, and the boundary of art is continually emerging as a new genre, such as installation and Conceptual Art. Under this condition of the art world, how the painting has maintained its position in the contemporary art world, and how it evolved toward the next step?
Greg Drasler: Photography, cinema, and video have all evolved out of the frame of painting and the narrative of painting. Art as social communication, identity and property reveal, cultural, socioeconomic and psychological expressions. as does painting. The difference seems to be the lightning fast delivery and a virtual bottomlessness. Anything that changes how we look will change how we see. We won’t know until it is too late. But on the bright side is we are still fascinated with our touch and what the hand can do.
Jiyong Sim: Our generation lives in the global world, and the perspectives of aesthetics in art also become various. Through their cultural background and identity, the interpretation and understanding those aesthetics are also diverse. For example, in the traditional point of view, eastern and western perspectives to consider the space in the painting are totally different. For the East, the emptiness of space functions as a generous room for viewers to fill in with their thoughts, while in the west, consider it comparatively as void negative space that works to balance the tension of the painting. Moreover, if you don’t experience that cultural background, it may difficult to understand it. Under these circumstances, how could you see and interpret the artworks from East (different culture) in a point of aesthetics?
Greg Drasler: Through translation. When I hear the description of the capacity of space in an Eastern painting it reminds me of the West’s fascination with the mirror. If you don’t see yourself, what do you see. etc. Most likely because of the high-speed communication cycle that we now conduct, the need to interpret, translate and incorporate is accelerated. I think I know that, I’ve heard that or that looks familiar are all too common expressions. Being grounded in a tradition a culture or a place is fundamental to knowledge. Knowledge of traditions, interpretations, and meanings arrive from a place; a place in time, on the map or off the grid. When I return with these thoughts back to the Chinese ink painting I am understanding more I am more aware of myself looking.
Jiyong Sim: What do you think about the relationship between appreciating (seeing) art and psychological effect?
Greg Drasler: They are intricately linked...symbiotic. I use the term psychological in describing my work. By this, I mean attentive to the range of meanings intended and unintended. Often through the use of overdetermined objects such a “baggage” signaling psychological baggage, the details of a painting begin to take on personalities. This act of projecting your interpretationinto the work, echo locates the capacity for imagination the work contains. These works encourage the viewer to continue looking to find something. A revelation, a detail overlooked, a quality, a recognition or a brick wall are all dialogs indicating a psychological perspective hoping for an intersubjective sense of acknowledgment.
Jiyong Sim: Do you have any recommendations or comments to young artists and art school students?
Greg Drasler: Dedicate yourself to your voices, choices, and ideas and energetically make your world. It is very important to make the best work that you can to the best of your abilities always. As if a MoMA curator was coming over in one month. That is how you should be working, even after a part-time job. Having the work ready when the interest clicks are fundamentally important. A persistence, dedication to the work and a cheerful demeanor will give you an enormous advantage. Remain in contact with your friends...Having the ability to build social groups for conversation and support could be critical. No one does this alone and friends are essential.
BY JIYONG SIM
JIYONG IS A KOREAN-AMERICAN ARTIST BASED IN NYC