|PABLO GENTILE: BIG AS LIFE
Pablo Gentile is a New York artist who now resides in Bali. You can see the cross-cultural influences in his work which also crosses genres and is BIG and BOLD http://www.siliconjungle.net/gentile_new/index.html. I wanted to find out what inspires him and he reveals that and more here …
MICHAEL: Hello Pablo. Your work is amazing. You're an old school artist in the sense that your work seems to build on what the Old Masters have done AND you're conquering so many genres. What do you think about this?
PABLO: In order to break the rules, you should first learn them. A good knowledge of the academics will give you control enough to see your visions through. The works are all part of an evolutionary process that never really stops. It leads to…who knows where? Most galleries I’ve worked with want a readily identifiable brand they can package and expect you to keep turning out variations of the same stuff. Commercially it works, but what about the evolution an artist goes through? Learning what he can from one style and using that as ammo for the next battle! You have to keep pushing the envelope in order to hopefully break new ground. I often revisit and go back if in retrospect I feel there’s something I can add.
MICHAEL: Do you ever come up with themes that you apply in all genres and maybe even cross reference?
PABLO: Sometimes I address certain ideas and then revisit. This can also apply to process or style. It’s sort of intuitive rather than a pragmatic approach to a “schizoid” body of work. Sometimes the works speak to each other and give me direction, so I guess that’s cross referencing.
MICHAEL: Your work is BIG, BOLD and expressive with lots of color and freedom. Some of it's almost like graffiti. What inspires you to paint the way you do?
PABLO: Inspiration? Music, travel, books, art. But to express, sometimes you whisper, sometimes you scream, I guess it’s all in the impulse. I’ve always preferred working for public spaces and for the scale to be life-sized, at least. It draws me in and while working and it’s nice to become immersed. The new work (as of this interview) is a return to my old urban, graffiti and comic book roots. The compositions are spontaneous and flowing, the colors are bright with soft gradients, but the work ends up refined and exact. It’s a sort of morphing of graffiti, Manga, Pop, abstract expressionism and digital - a lot of things and maybe that stuff is the inspiration. There’s a lot in there. I travel a lot and still am interested in mobility between cultures and philosophies and how they interrelate.
MICHAEL: Do you live in Indonesia? What are you doing in Bali and where are you from originally? Why did you go there? How does that culture influence your work?
PABLO: I'm a native New Yorker. After finishing at the New York School of Visual Arts in 1978, I took a teaching job in Japan. I went there to study traditional Japanese brush drawing (Sumie') and martial arts. I had already been to Bali and never really got over it. So when living in Japan, I took my holidays there. I designed a line of products for a Japanese company that brought in a small residual, but it was enough to live on the beach in a grass hut and paint out my Gauguin fantasy here in Bali. Eventually I found a coconut grove and built my studio. I managed to hold on to it for more than 25 years and bounced between my loft in New York and Bali for many years. Now, I pretty much work here in Bali and exhibit in the States, and in Europe, Asia and Australia. In Miami, I am with the Once' Arts Gallery in Wynwood. In the early days, the work was affected with regard to subject matter, but eventually it became evident that first and foremost, my perspective is still that of an urban American artist. So, I think the work would pretty much be the same wherever I make it. I make a lot of large- scale sculptures that are based on the local carvers, so I guess that work is pretty much something I could only do working here.
MICHAEL: Of all of the countries you've visited, which would you say respects art the most?
PABLO: That is an interesting question, as every country seems to have its own perspective, and what they might call “art,” for example in Bali what we might call “art,” is so ingrained into the fabric of life that it’s taken for granted. Everyone does something, be it devotional, decorative, mystical, or conceptual. You can see it in the embellishments that are carved in traditional architecture, on temple walls or the care in which an offering is woven out of bamboo. Everyone seems to do something, be it dance, music, carving, painting, textile design, puppetry, flower arrangement or silver-smithing. It’s nice that it’s accepted as a fact of existence and not put on a pedestal.
MICHAEL: It sounds like you create your work in Bali and ship it all over the world. Does that ever become a headache?
PABLO: It can get expensive. Sometimes the paintings are shipped already stretched and framed, or else I roll them up and either carry them or ship them and then stretch again at the point of destination. The sculpture is always carefully packed and shipped.
MICHAEL: You seem to me like the prototypical artist who puts freedom above all else and travels the world all the time. How have you been able to do this? Desire is one thing, but having the resources to do it is quite another.
PABLO: Early in my career, I designed various products for a Japanese company that gave me small residuals. With this I was able to live very cheaply in Bali and painted every day, eventually I brought the work to the States, and that got the ball rolling.
MICHAEL: Well, I hope things will continue to roll for you Pablo. Thanks. This has been great.
Check out Pablo at http://www.siliconjungle.net/gentile_new/index.html.