Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
My practice encompasses a few different art forms but tends to gravitate around drawing and painting. When I’m first starting a project, the desire to paint a thing often arises from a vague image in my mind’s eye. From there, as I attempt to portray the incoherent form on the canvas, the impossibility of my situation leads to failure and improvisation. Like an accidental stew, the composition takes form as I engage in a back and forth between knowledge and impulse.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
My influences are vast and varied. Fatherhood, Kerry James Marshall, Neo Rausch, video games, corporeal existence just to name a few! I spent a good bit of time in Graduate school researching Pieter Brueghel the elder and the methods of color production in alchemy during the dark ages and renaissance in Europe. I think this gave me a deep appreciation for the miracle of color as we know it today.
The birth of my children while somewhat of a pat answer, is a very real influence on much of my work. The liminal paintings all started as a muse on the experience of being a fetus in the womb. Really it’s true! My paintings and drawings found their footing by contemplating my son’s creation.
You've described in the past that your work pulls from Surrealism and an alternative world that is divorced from our own human realities, can you talk a little about this?
My method for starting a painting is similar to early surrealist methodology, at least in material manipulation. I will push paint around on a surface, whether I have an image in mind or not, and I let the chaotic nature of the paint tell me what to do. 90% of the time this is the working method, even if I start with a solid vision in my mind, I end up searching for objects and compositions through automatism at some point.
My concerns are different than surrealism however, because at some point I begin a world building exercise in my mind in congruence with the work in progress. All of my work, it seems to me, comes from a specific place. I’m not sure whether this space is biological, mental, artificial, micro or macro, but the paintings are simply windows into a world that exists and extends beyond the viewers perspective.
How important is the choice of material in relation to realizing the concept of your work?
I would say it’s important and it’s not. I’ve found that most materials allow for chance and randomness, so in that sense, most will work just fine. I will say however, that oil paint allows for a refinement and plethora of options beyond any medium that I have encountered so far. For that reason, oil paint is my preferred medium for my current practice simply because it allows me so much utility.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
House painting brushes and a large flat drywall mud or putty knife. The latter creates incredible marks of happenstance and unexpected interactions, while the former obliterates those movements into satisfying blurs of nothingness.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
James Elkins – What Painting Is – This book explains in simple clear prose, the impossibility of making paintings, the drive and need to do it and the emotional history of color production. It’s just so very good.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
Currently, I have a show through the end of August @mypetram in NYC. After that, the school year begins so who knows? You can follow my work on Instagram @conorpatrickfagan for updates and heads up for future shows and collaborations.
Morning Star, 65 x 89
Pile, 30 x 40
Verdant Mire, 37 x 80
Abandoned Landscape, 40 x 50
Visitation, 48 x 72
Briny Fete, 37 x 22.5