Jason Mones: The subject of the creative impetus is a reoccurring theme within your work these days. Could you discuss your experience with gravitating toward this subject as a source of inspiration? Perhaps this has something to do with dealing with the blank white page or the canvas. (A relationship to writing?)
Micha Patiniott: I guess my work has always dealt with people and objects engaging in playful and somewhat problematic forms of self-expression, but yes, I wanted the work to speak even more straightforwardly about it. Being quite literal about the theme allowed me to simultaneously carve out a lot of room to disrupt it with some serious quirkiness. I also felt that because of a recurrence of subjects and tropes, there would be more possible ways for things to resonate amongst the works, . Within the different iterations new possibilities for shifts in meaning pop up. There is a lot of juggling with objects that can produce or receive images within the paintings, like pencils and canvasses – images ‘making’ and/or ‘unmaking’ themselves within the work. I like it when the images can potentially fold back on themselves, becoming self-referential and recursive.
The blank page – the empty surface-as-state of potential (and perhaps its end at the same time) does play a big role. The protagonists in my work, whether human or object, driven by this creative impetus, often meet with emptiness.
In my studio, on the ground and leaning against the wall next to the paintings, I have a drumskin that is loosened from its barrel. It helps me continually think of empty surfaces as loaded screens or skins.
JM: One of the many wonderful things about your work is the dynamic way in which form has a flexibility that disregards convention, almost in defiance of it. Could you give us some insight as to how you arrive at these decisions? (How do the formal decisions of the painting come about?)
MP: I love to play with fluid ideas related to the body, objects, form, paint and representation – and how these notions can bleed into each-other. Objects may have human properties and become filled with presence. Vice-versa, human body parts sometimes become object-like, evoking the idea of being containers.
With the distortions of form I want to relate meaning through a sort of language of the body. So with distinct postures and manipulations of the physique, I wish to show something in a very physical way, the way one might understand things from interacting with people and objects through their own body in real life.
By ‘disregard[ing] convention’ as you put it, I can move towards a slapstick of the body, where exaggerated and absurd physical activity exceeds the boundaries of what one might communicate through naturalistic means. I am intrigued by the fact that a certain type of caricature, while thriving on exaggeration, can tell us something very subtle and concise. It seems like such a contradiction, but that is what I am trying to make happen. In the end, the formal decisions I make are always informed by how such a play with form is felt in my own body, first in a very physical way and then psychologically and as narrative.
JM: In the yellow and black painting titled “Lux Wax II”, the image is derivative of an earlier painting you have done. Could you talk about whether there are reoccurring themes within the work and how they interact with your daily practice?
MP: The works form a network of questions, definitions and meanings. Themes do reoccur, mostly revolving around (problematic or awkward) scenes of self-expression. If not directly, the work deals with these ideas implicitly, utilizing binaries like showing and hiding, presence and absence, strength and weakness, making and undoing, support and collapse, potential and failure. Despite these patterns, ambiguity remains, as growing connections amongst the work harbor new meanings, and new subjects are naturally introduced.
Ideas for new works tend to gladly impose themselves on me in a cascade of associations when I look at my existing works. The interactions of these ideas within my daily practice can be quite lively, to the point of becoming almost disruptive. I need to live with these ideas for quite some time before I can gauge their potential for becoming a good painting.JM: I’ve noticed various works in the recent exhibition at Anna Zorina Gallery use a framing device within the painted image, as if there is a page within the page. Could you talk about that a bit? (It seems to strike a great conversation about the painted image as an object.)
MP: Yes, it is the recursive thing again, the image within the image, the self-referential painting. I have always been very aware of the edges of an image, figuring out playful ways to deal with the moment that representation collapses and / or reconstitutes itself. Where does the image begin or end, and when does the painting as an object kick in? That question is always very much part of the work itself.
In these recent ‘framed’ works I have been playing with the space around an image more explicitly, letting it be part of the image and object itself. I like it that these images are super honest about their representational character: the framing device tells so straight away. On the other hand, the frames are not so straightforward as they seem. For example, sometimes they are formed by a large piece of bare canvas around the image, so the image is actually on top of the larger surface, the barren canvas pointing to its object-ness. Another example: if you look at the work ‘Draw Draw’, green paint creeps over the frame, coming from underneath a white page partially covering it. These squiggles mark the liminal moment between frame and image. At the same time it makes the frame into something that can receive marks in itself, and by doing so it becomes an illusionary space. These moves introduce some confusion into the work regarding which part of the work constitutes frame and image. I am very interested in this sort of ambiguity of status.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
MICHA PATINIOTT: currently lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was a resident of the Rijksacademy in Amsterdam from 2006-2007, and was also a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA from 2008-2009. Micha’s work can be seen at Anna Zorina Gallery in New York.
JASON MONES: Received his MFA from Yale in 2008. Mones has taught at the University of Connecticut and Dowling College, while he currently teaches at Montclair University in New Jersey. He lives and paints in Brooklyn, NY. He has exhibited internationally, including shows in Seoul (S. Korea, 2012) and at the AIM Biennial: Bronx Museum A in New York in 2013.