Sunday, May 4, 2008

Interview with Michael Pajon

q) Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.

a)I am 28 years old, the son of a Colombian immigrant and a Southside Irish lass. I grew up 45 minutes outside of Chicago in a working class home surrounded by cornfields. So with little to do besides ride your bike I often found myself reading comic books and drawing.

q) Had you always planned on being an artist [or had you other hopes]?

a)Well, my father always wanted me to play soccer, and I loved it, but it quickly took a backseat to my other hobbies as I began to realize how hard it would be to have a go at pro soccer in the States. Besides, I had started way too late and by the time I was in High School there were younger kids who were better than me. My Mom wanted me to be an engineer since I always enjoyed building things and taking them apart, but I am terrible at math and find it utterly boring, so that became a no go as well.

q) Do you have a preferred medium to work on? Why?

a)I arrived at collage making through printmaking, which is kind of strange, but I think they are both very process oriented mediums, so it wasn’t a stretch. I think both printmaking and collage offer a very democratic approach to art making. With printmaking you have multiples of an image, and that allows you to get it out to more people. Collage may be the most democratic art form of all; anyone can do it, though I do draw into all of my pieces.

q) How would you describe your style?

a)Well recently over the weekend at the Chicago Art Fair I had quite a lot of people refer to it as Americana. Which I guess is appropriate since all of the pieces that make up the collages are various scraps of old ticket stubs, matchbooks, postcards, and maps from the 1800’s – 1950. It is very narrative, and I had a friend tell me that hey often read like Aesop’s Fables or Allegories.

q) Do you go through any certain processes while trying to produce your work?

a)Most often I have to go out to junk shops and thrift stores to appropriate new materials. I go through quite a lot and very often there is an image that anchors the rest of the piece that I need to make or find to get started. Then I have to find a surface on which to work, most recently I completed a piece that is sort of a scrolling Darger-like narrative on an old children’s book that I took apart. In that piece, and with most others, the background is too busy so I traced around the figures and cut some old notebook paper to disrupt the foreground. The piece in question is called “Jimmy’s Adventures in the Inland Empire”.

q) What are you working on at present?

a)I have the rest of that children’s book already stretched out on my desk. I am really enjoying making these larger pieces. So far I have made two, until then most of them were no larger than a book page.

q) What about recent sources of inspirations?

a)We have this Edward Hopper show up in Chicago, and I’ve now visited the show twice and plan on going again tomorrow. It is beautiful. Hopper has such a way with creating these lonesome everyman characters in his paintings. To me they seem to represent a certain failure of the American Dream, which is a constant them in my work. I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading about quilting and the generational story passed down in the patterns and quilts. It’s pretty fascinating, there is a group of women in Boykin, Alabama who have been quilting since their families were plantation slaves and were moved there from North Carolina in 1846. The a symmetrical designs in their quilts go all the way back to their African heritage

q) What are some of your obsessions?

a)Well I am a complete nerd so I have to say right now re-reading my Hellboy comics and keeping up with Battlestar Galactica. I’ve also had this Band of Horses album Cease to Begin on repeat for a while now.

q) Which galleries have you shown at and which galleries would you like to show at?

a)I have had some work shown with Adam Baumgold Gallery in New York, and Ann Nathan Gallery here in Chicago. Pavel Zoubok’s gallery in New York has a focus on collage and to be amongst some of the greats like Joseph Cornell, John Evans, and Mark Wagner. I also really enjoy the work at Richard Heller gallery in Los Angeles.

q) If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

a)They can contact me through my website, It’s just little old me so drop me a line.

q) Do you have any suggestions or advice for artists that are just starting out?

a)Make the work you want to make and do not fret creative dry spells. If you work through them you’ll be a stronger artist for it. Don’t ever let someone else’s opinion of your work effect what you do, especially if you know it is true to you.

q) Who are your favorite artists?

a)Contemporary artists; I’ve really been enjoying Mark Wagner’s work; he makes collages out of cut up dollar bills. He is also a co-founder of a Booklyn in Brooklyn, NY. I also really enjoy Jonathan Schippers work, who is a kinetic sculptor, also in Brooklyn, his recent immense piece called “The slow and steady decline of American Muscle” was a spectacle to behold. Two full-sized muscle cars are forced together by two hydraulic pistons at ¾ of an inch an hour, it looks like an extremely slow motion car crash.
I have always been a huge fan of Goya, Edward Hopper, Aubrey Beardsley, Hieronymus Bosch, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, and Joseph Cornell.

q) What books are on your nightstand?

a)I’m reading the Moviegoer by Walker Percy. I have been to New Orleans a few times I the last 6 months and it tells the tale of a misanthrope by the name of Binx Bolling who believes his life is without enough “treasurable moments” and often searches for authenticity in a place where there is little, Hollywood films.
Recently I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”. It’s a quick read, and offers some fascinating insight into how we make snap judgments.

q) To what weaknesses are you most indulgent?

a)Movies, I am going to see Iron Man tonight. I also get a little more excited than I should when I see a red Netflix envelope in the mail.
The other is bike rides, we’ve been having some gorgeous weather until today, and it has been hard to get work done in the studio when all I want to do is go out for a ride.

q)….your contacts…

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