Paul Kremer on people who make art that makes art
We all know that we live in a world of fake news, and one of them is actually related to Paul Kremer. Someone once wrote, “Paul Kremer, (b. 1971), is an American artist whose artwork references everything but performance art.” I mean, his work may not directly reference the performance art, but ideology is there, and one of them that really resonates with Kremer, is Chris Burden’s. I also see the connection in demanding, either time, space, use of color, etc. Kremer is very loud in his art, he is just not loud literally. His pieces are substantial, and his vision is vast.
Paul Kremer’ latest work are not just paintings, it is also work of curatorial nature. Kremer recently put together a show called, “Machine Show,” an exhibition exploring the innovative processes of his own work, Mark Flood‘, MOMO‘ and Jason Revok.‘ The show’s main lead is to uncover the methodology behind the artists‘ works, showing painting alongside video, performance, and functional objects.
Paul, do you dream in color or BW?
I dream Betamax™.
What is the most crucial aspect when it comes to your paintings? The intensity of colors or linear work?
Both are equally important, but really, I’m trying to present a feeling. If looking at my paintings feels similar to when you sit on an abandoned rooftop, I’m happy.
I once already asked you this, but it goes in sync with what you just said, therefore, I am asking again! Is there a right or wrong way to understand someone’s work, or any reaction is a good reaction as long as there is one?
Yes, bad reactions are good reactions too.
You work in graphic design, and that can be noticed in your paintings, kind of. Is linearity in your artworks there because it holds a strong connection to graphic design or is it there because that is the base of everything you do?
If by linearity you mean the weight and composition of graphic objects, yes, that’s important to me. I’ll work something over, or move things until they click into place and feel right to me. I’ve always tried to create zones of comfort.
Is the work finished once you find comfort in it?
Do you sketch?
Only when the charge runs out.
I think one of my favorite things, in regards to your art, is the perfection on canvas and then the dripping effect on the side. Why do you do that? To show there is spontaneity in you?
I think the sides of a canvas should be what is left over after a painting is finished. Some artists pull an object over from the face of the painting onto the sides, which to me, makes a different type of object… like a sculpture.
This now got me thinking about frames. Is your work even made to be framed or it should be left as it is?
I have used frames to help finish certain paintings, but some collectors have told me that they consider the drips to be frames in and of themselves. I love looking at frames in museums. I would love to know more about that. Are there famous frames that have been with paintings forever?
That is a really good question, and I wish I knew the answer! Paul, do you strive for perfection?
I don’t have enough patience to strive for perfection. I enjoy the way certain paint mixes with certain canvas, and if it settles perfectly, great.
The color palette you use is very basic, in a way, but also very intense. When you pinpoint the exact shade, the intensity and the course of your linear work, do you ever think some pieces are hard to live with because they come across too aggressive, and some people just can’t live with massive, red, canvasses?
That’s why I don’t use red, and why some collectors pay more for commissions.
Smart! Do you live with your art?
No, I sell my art!
Smarter! Whose art could you live with?
If I had bigger walls, Frankenthaler, Louis, Noland, Oliski, but I’ll happily settle for my friends’ art, my kids’ art, and paintings I trade for.
Let’s now talk about Machine Show. How did the show get together and why?
I was painting long, solid lines across large areas of canvas on a flat surface. Every line hurt my back. I am not a fan of suffering for art, so I decided to create something that would make it less painful.
I wanted to drop paint on a large canvas and move the surface to control the paint. I proposed ideas to my friend Roy Kerstiens who built a large easel with a swiveling cross, and later developed a second easel that could hold a 9ft canvas and allowed a 360-degree rotation and 180-degree tilt. This sparked ideas for different types of paintings, too many to count. I painted the easels with red and white warning colors, and after doing so loved the way they looked as objects. I imagined a room full of different easels and thought they were good enough to be seen as sculpture.
More importantly, it made me question things. How many artists have made tools to create artworks? How many of these tools have been trashed to hide their secrets? This sparked my interest in finding others who have done the same, people who make art that makes art.
“People who make art that makes art?”
I’m not sure if artists who have made tools that help them create other artworks see the tools as art, but I do. I see homemade tools or modified jigs as unique as the paintings they make.
How did you decide on who to show?
I saw working videos on Instagram from both Revok and MOMO, and I’ve known Mark Flood for a long time and remembered the Superbrush he made. They were the first I thought to add to the show, and it stuck. I liked how each of us came from different fields of art … fine art, graffiti, murals, graphic design.
When I gathered all the works, I made mock-ups of where I wanted everything to go, and Library Street Collective made it happen. It was important to me to show these NFS objects IRL, and they were supportive in every way. I had to convince these guys to pull back the curtain too, and I was happy they were all into it.
Paul, what is the best constructive criticism you ever got?
No good deed goes unpunished.
Who are some artists ideologies you admire the most?
Paul Cezanne, Marcel Duchamp, Sigmar Polke, Mike Kelley, and Chris Burden.
I just watched Burden’s documentary, have you seen it? I like the idea of him starting with obscure performances and calling them art just to get the attention, and once the attention was there, he started to produce more thorough, complex works. Do you taking quality, inclusion, thoroughness happens with age, or it actually has to do with confidence and solid position in the art market?
It’s interesting to think about artists making things that look pretty in your home in order to have the support to make things that aren’t. I’m not sure if I fall into that category yet, as I love painting, but I am curious about so many other things.
Paul, if you would be a color, what would you be?
What about shape?
An imperfect circle.
What is your greatest superstition?
I have bad luck and good luck underwear. I throw away the bad luck underwear.
Do you feel like an adult?
I’m not sure, but my girlfriend divides up people she meets into those who “seem like grown-ups” and those who don’t, and she generally avoids the grown-ups. We’ve been together a long time, so I must at least qualify as something better than a grown-up.
1260 LIBRARY STREET, DETROIT
OCTOBER 28 – DECEMBER 23, 2017
Interview: Katja Horvat
Photos: All images are from Machine Show and are courtesy of the artists.
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