From stunning snapshots of the universe and our world to iPhone photos of grumpy or cute cats, voyaging around the internet almost always includes sifting through a barrage of random, hilarious, or just plain weird images. Rather than just scroll past these pictures, local artist Daniel Bohman interrogates them through large oil paintings in “Collect & Transform,” the Arts Council’s newest exhibit in its 100 Pearl Street Gallery. Before the exhibit’s opening reception this Thursday, January 24 from 5-7pm, we asked Bohman to give us some insights into his artistic process, motivations and ambitions:
- What’s your process for choosing images from Google? Do you have an image in mind when you start searching, or do you leave it up to chance?
My process usually starts with some sort of baseline idea. It could be as simple as two images that interact in an interesting way or speak to a theme I want to investigate. The chance usually occurs as the painting progresses and new ideas and paths emerge. It’s not uncommon for a painting to look nothing like I imagined it would.
- The clashing patterns and images are the foundations of each piece. How do you strike a balance between your interest in the abstract and the representation of realistic spaces and figures?
I’ve always been drawn to opposites, and I would feel uncomfortable creating a purely realistic or abstract painting. I learned this a while back and have been trying to marry the two ever since. Even the pattern has dual dimensions. It not only creates tension, but has a wonderful ability to tie or weave disparate parts together.
- When I look at some the pieces in the show, I immediately started crafting a soundtrack for each piece. For me, there were some hints of Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire, and some Tom Waits. I know Twin Peaks influenced part of one piece. Do you look to other music or film for inspiration? Any unexpected sources?
Well I certainly am influenced by music. I very much admire how music can drift between abstract (musical) and the more literal (lyrics). It’s something I try to accomplish in my paintings. It’s funny you mention it, but Tom Waits is someone I listen to a lot when I’m painting. There’s something about the theatrics and texture of his music that informs me as I work.
- How has your experience with local arts schools (UCONN and MCC) informed the development of your work?
I think Connecticut is an interesting place to make art. It obviously suffers from being sandwiched in between Boston and New York but I think there’s a resiliency that keeps it intriguing. UCONN can sometimes feel a little far away, but I think my work has benefited from the lack of distraction.
- What direction do you see your work taking this year? Are there any new areas you’re interested in exploring as you wrap up work on your MFA?
I think I’m going to keep pushing what I’ve been doing until I graduate in May. This semester I’ll be working on more printmaking though. Something I’ve always found difficult in the past.
Many thanks to Daniel for answering my questions. Check out “Collect & Transform” at the opening reception on Thursday, January 24 from 5-7pm in the 100 Pearl Street Gallery in Hartford, where you can snack on some apps and sip some wine with the artist himself. If you can’t make it then, the exhibition’s on display until March 23, 2013. Hope to see you this Thursday!