Parker Tilghman: In terms of vocabulary, even though your forms seem abstract or arbitrary I definitely see them being used continuously in other paintings as a way to call attention to the space that is being created.
Joel Dean: Absolutely. I think another thing that is important is that everything has the show has some sort of narrative. Like the large shapes, X with Friends, for instance just being that sound of an x. Like a stupid reference to text. Or like the A form on the stage, like that being a dumb text piece. I don’t want it to be as if I’m on the fence. I just want it to be simple. It is a bit of a stretch to say they are text pieces, but its enough that they are least invoking that.
PT: Just referencing text pieces. You’re not literally giving text pieces, but when someone is in the space as sees that form they are going to think of the sound the letter makes.
JD: Right, another way I was trying to reference text was with the red zig-zag. That piece is called (sp), like a spelling error. I liked that as a form it references that something is wrong with the text.
PT: As far as the sculptures go, the toga is the closest one to the human form. What was your way of injecting the figure into the painting?
JD: Yes, I wanted it to be clear that everything was to a human scale. Also, it is a space for humans to move around in. If the painting was to become figurative, I wanted it only to be so because people were in the space looking at it. That’s an important thing to me. In the statement it says that the narrative is “real time” and the idea is that the narrative could be “everything happening on the planet right now” or “alternative art space” or “Michelle’s studio being in the next room”.
PT: I think in a way that personalizes the experience a bit more. In a way, it solidifies the goal of people viewing this as one painting. So then in that painting, in the tropes of Abstact Expressionism, having a real time narrative emphasizes the connective experience. The viewer’s experience in the space ultimately determines the narrative.
JD: Yes, two other pieces I really want to talk about are Perforation 1 and Dog-Ear. I think they are hard to see in the documentation, but these pieces work together to point to another form in a way that I hope all the works in the show do. For Perforation 1, I drilled holes into the wall every centimeter in a straight vertical line. The piece stands alone, but if you focus on the division in relation to the whole wall, it creates a scaled up 8.5’’ by 11’’ sheet of paper. I wanted to mark it as that, so the corner of the wall has been folded in, or “dog-eared” like you might do to the corner of a page in a book. The section to the left of the perforation is empty, it's a blank image, but the dog-ear breaks that surface and gives the paper object hood. It's another space where the viewer has to do the work to complete the piece. But then, even if they do catch the reference, the piece is ultimately just a white monochrome hidden in the larger installation. I wanted it to reference text, but it's also kind of a nod to something that re-occurs in art history...paintings within paintings.
PT: It’s these small details that fully actualize the real painting. Each of your specific concerns with painting, or a painting, is present. I know there is a lot about the show that we didn’t cover, but we are running out of time. Thank you so much, you’ve definitely given me a lot to think about.
Damn Your Eyes is on view at Sight School in Oakland, California through March 13th.