1xRUN Thru Interview
Between Light & Shadow by John Wentz
1xRUN: What materials were used to create this piece?
John Wentz: A variety of oil paints. I don’t have one particular brand that I like and I like to mix my own paints when possible. I didn’t use brushes all too much for these. I’d say under 50% of the time. I used a lot of palette knives, spackle knives, q-tips…I tried to use anything but a brush when I could to experiment with texture and paint application.
1xRun: Anything you would like us to highlight?
John Wentz: The majority of the reference for this painting, and every painting in the series, is constructed by collaging found images. I found this to be very important and more meaningful with the images. I tried creating my own photo references at first, but they felt preachy or too staged…somewhat biased. I think there is a greater impact with these source images and the idea that they create an entirely different narrative when juxtaposed against each other is really fascinating.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about? How long did this piece take?
John Wentz: It started with the gas mask image. I wanted to see how the narrative of the image would change when placed in another setting. Once I had that basic image set, I added other images and removed others until I got a composition I was happy with. Then I reconstruct the image in a drawing; repeating directions, changing the drawing and focusing on basic shapes to inform the composition…a lot of simplifying. After that I do a lot of color studies to find the right mood for the piece. I work from the photo reference in black and white to help with this. Once I get a study that I like, I redrew on the canvas in graphite and started painting. I stretch all of my own canvases so I don’t have to rely on traditional formats. From start to finish I’d say this piece took about a week. I work on as many pieces as I can simultaneously so it’s hard to tell.
1xRun: Any struggles or obstacles you dealt with in finishing the piece?
John Wentz: There’s always struggles. Mostly it was finding the right color scheme. I go through a lot of studies for most bigger pieces. I really wanted to find a color scheme that was harmonious, but slightly dissonant at the same time.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece compared to some of your other work?
John Wentz: It was the first piece that I really began to think about texture and ways to move paint around.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
John Wentz: I’d hope because it clicks with them on some level.
1xRun: Describe this piece in one gut reaction word.
John Wentz: Dissonant.
1xRun: Tell us a bit how this piece fit into the “Spectra” series, what was the inspiration for that group of work?
John Wentz: I love historical photographs…images in general. I just became obsessed with images of war, especially vintage images. To be able to see the faces of the soldiers, the destruction and in some cases fatalities. It’s so much more unbiased than history books. You just begin to see that war, violence all of these “awful” things are part of the human experience. That was something fascinating to me and something I wanted to try and explore with painting. They often get labeled “dystopian” but I kind of disagree with that. Because they are found images, I feel like the narrative is more psychological and less a vision of what may come. Like a peak into the reptilian part of our brain.
1xRun: You’ve been staying busy as of late, can you bring us up to speed on what you’ve been up to since your last release The Form Appears?
John Wentz: Painting as much as possible. I’ve participated in a few group shows since then and will be doing shows with Spoke Art, Gauntlet Gallery and 111 Minna in the next few months. I’ve also been dividing my time between personal work and commissions. It’s a new thing for me and I’m having a lot of fun with it.
1xRun: You recently have been knocking out some great portraits of iconic musicians for a group show, why did you choose the artists you did ?
John Wentz: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I actually spent a lot of years playing music in bands and am just totally inspired and obsessed with music. The musicians I chose were ones that inspired me when I played music and just continue to inspire me to this day. Their music is music I can listen to over and over and over again.
1xRun: Any big plans for the rest of the year?
John Wentz: Keep painting! I have ideas that I want to try out and I’m hoping to participate in more shows. I’m also looking forward to going to shows. From smaller galleries to museums, there is a lot of great things happening in San Francisco coming up.
1xRun: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
John Wentz: A Diebenkorn book at his exhibition at the DeYoung Museum. Does that count?