This past November 6th at the Grand Central Art Center, “Interruption” a retrospective of Joe Sorren’s work from 2004 to 2010 opened. Along with new paintings, some collaborative sculptures by Joe and Jud Bergeron were displayed. This January 22nd the exhibition will travel to the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, CA. Now that the show is set, and all of the other interviews Joe has done for this exhibition are over, the Creep Machine was able ask Joe some questions about inspirations, working processes, and the work for this retrospective.
Creep: I know that you started painting in college, something you did along with creating music, is there any areas in your painting that you feel could be different had you started at a younger age?
Joe: Not sure, I suppose everything would be different if I started at a different time. Who knows, I never considered it before.
Creep: In some of your works, your love of music is present in the iconography the painting has. Are there any other loves in your life that find their way into your work, on a frequent basis?
Joe: I would say my family always finds their way in there. As does nature, the woods and water in particular. I just can’t get enough of it in!
Creep: You worked first with acrylic paints, and have stated that you liked the simplicity, just water as it allows you “to constantly stare at the canvas.” Using oils now, do you find your working process is the same, or did you have to change the way you work to fit the medium?
Joe: The thing about acrylics that finally pushed me away was, it is incredibly frustrating to chase moments in paint, and then catch them up only to find them dark and dull the next day. I suppose in oil, the prep work is greater, but the moments, once realized, remain.
Creep: For your upcoming solo exhibition, Interruption, you worked with Jud Bergeron on some collaborative sculptures. You have made sculptures before, but there new ones look a bit more abstract in their form. Is this new way your are creating figures a natural progression, or does it have something to do with the collaboration between Jud and yourself?
Joe: I would say working with Jud had to change the way I approach making sculpture. His work has always has a foot in the abstract, and it became a natural foil for my more figurative, love of character, type of approach, yes.
Creep: I’ve always been interested in the process of how artists create their work, and have followed your blog to see the frequent process shots you post. I notice that drawings are something fans rarely see. I know you paint directly with no studies, can you talk a bit how your style has progressed working this way?
Joe: I love the daydream quality to thinking or not thinking, as the case may be, with a brush. The idea of a canvas being full of possibilities to explore, seems much more interesting to me than to plot and plot and then color the plotting, and that only after plotting the coloring, in some cases!
Creep: The quality your paintings have, which was what helped make me a fan, almost gives one the impression that they could fit perfectly within any art period. I can even see in a few of your work, possible inspiration from classical paintings. Can you tell us about your inspirations from the past, and the artists that played the biggest role in your development?
Joe: I am an art lover, and it’s history is so vast and mind-blowingly rich that it really depends on the week. Have you ever read Vasari? His art book, written in the 16th century, is kind of where I am at these days. Just so interesting to hear his ‘ modern perspective’ on things. Makes me realize that we are only in another pod of time now. Check it out if you get a chance,” Lives of the Artists” by Giorgio Vasari.
Creep: You have shown work alongside many artists in the “pop surrealism” genre, yet your art seems to have its own niche. Do you feel comfortable in the place your work has been fitted, or would even a previous movement be something you would rather be a part of?
Joe: Honestly, it’s better for me to focus on the work, and leave those sort of things to consider when I am blind and dead, you know?
Creep: Now that you have added sculpture to your list of abilities, is there any other medium you would like to try?
Joe: Marble is what I cant wait to try. Someday, someday!!
Creep: Your shows have always had a nice space in between them, something I respect as I know you are not rushing like many artists seem to be doing. After a show such as the upcoming Interruption, do you take time off or get right back to work?
Joe: I think it’s really important to jump straight back in, otherwise the dark cloud of not painting can get it’s dry claws into you. Truth is, I can’t think of a better way to spend my time here on earth, family aside.
Creep: Finally, an you tell us whoa are some of the current working artists whose work amazes you the most?
Joe: Turner, Picasso, manhattan steamboat overdrive, Jim Henson, more Picasso.
As Joe stated in the interview, if you are interested in art history, or even the way writing about art has evolved and been influenced, Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives of the Artists” is a must read. It’s something I read for my art history training, and has inspired historians and critics since it was first published in 1550. You can pick up a copy (here) on Amazon pretty cheap.
To check out the full exhbition, and even take a virtual tour head over to Joe’s homepage: Joesorren.com
To see the sculptures Joe and Jud Bergeron created, check out Jud’s homepage: Interruption Sculptures