Here for his debut RUN, we are excited to debut a new piece Concatenation from Bay Area artist John Wentz. Inspired by the writings of psychologist Carl Jung, Wentz’s work explores how the archetype of the hero – and specifically the superhero – influences the human experience. Juxtaposing vintage comic book characters with surreal depictions of children, John aims to create a dialogue between his childhood and the childhood of today, which seem to lack or misunderstand this timeless archetype. Read on for the 1xRUN Thru Interview with John as he discusses his upcoming RUN, past influences and more…
1xRUN Thru Interview
Concatenation by John Wentz
1xRun: Is the original still for sale?
John Wentz: Yes, the original is for sale. The original size is 16 5/8”x43” oil on canvas. and is framed. I usually do multiple studies of a piece before beginning, but with this one I just dove right in. My formats are all custom sizes because I use a specific form of geometry to determine my rectangles. They are hardly ever your basic 18”x24” etc. Once the rectangle was determined I began drawing with oil paint. After the basic drawing I moved big brushes and began layering.
1xRun: When was the piece drawn and created?
John Wentz: This piece was created in April of 2012. It was the last piece I did for my solo exhibition “Synthesis” at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. It opened May 4.
1xRun: Anything immediate you would like us to highlight?
John Wentz: I guess I would just sum up the next three questions. It was a very visceral painting for me. The imagery was important as far as fitting into this new series, but I was also very concerned about what the paint was doing. I really wanted to push the mark making of the brush strokes to an almost abstract quality. The piece is about movement…separation and a coming back together. The brushwork had to reinforce that.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
John Wentz: This piece actually came to me in a dream during my commute to work. I had a long night of painting and had only slept for a few hours. I dozed off for a second and this image popped in my head. I didn’t think much of it for a couple of days, but it just stuck there. I didn’t want to start another painting because I only had a few weeks to finish up everything for my show, but I couldn’t help myself. I usually don’t start pieces with an image first and then try to figure out what it means after. However, this was one of those pieces.
1xRun: How long did the piece take?
John Wentz: All in all, I’d say about 12 hours. Usually, I do a lot of planning and spend many many hours on a painting. Then, every once in awhile you luck out and things just fall into place and come together quickly. I lucked out on this one.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
John Wentz: Let’s see…a few things. For one, it was also an exercise in color restraint. I only used two colors plus white. The palette is: Titanium white, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Like I mentioned before, I really wasn’t going to do this piece for the show. I really didn’t have the time. The image was burned into my brain though and I just couldn’t get it out. It was one of those images that you just have to paint. It turned out to be my favorite piece in the show.
1xRun: Why should people buy this piece/print?
John Wentz: Because they like the image and it somehow resonates with them. Also, I think it’s a great way for enthusiasts to purchase art if their budgets don’t allow them to have the original. And for the artist, it helps to spread their work around and increase their audience.
1xRun: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
John Wentz: Visceral.
1xRun: When did you first start making art?
John Wentz: This probably sounds typical or kind of flowery, but I never stopped. I think every kid starts drawing very young. Most stop at some point for whatever reason. I just kept doing it, never put the pencil down. I think that’s true for a lot of artists. As I got older I took a year off hear or there, but once I decided on art school not a day goes by that I’m not doodling, painting or drawing.
1xRun: What was your first piece?
John Wentz: A drawing I did of Spiderman in the 5th grade. My first very “serious” piece was titled “Goodbye Hero”. It was also my first serious sale in a gallery. I was pretty excited. I still have an image of it.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on?
John Wentz: The first I could remember is Frank Miller. When I got my hands on “The Dark Knight Returns” I flipped out. I copied every panel. That was 1986 I think. After that it was Screaming Mad George who was better known for his special effects in horror movies. I really loved his artwork. But he could do anything: movie effects, painting, illustration, Halloween masks, music. A true renaissance man. Shortly after, I became hooked on Juxtapoz magazine and became influenced by artists like Eric White, Jerome Witkin and Mark Ryder.
1xRun: What artists inspire you now?
John Wentz: One of my main influences is the Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia. I discovered his work in art school and it had a heavy impact on me. Back in August of 2011, I was fortunate enough to go to Madrid where he was having a retrospective at the Museo Thyssen. Just about every work he’s ever done was there. It completely changed my life in regards to the power of art and the idea of painting for yourself and your experience. After that I’d say Ann Gale, Jenny Saville, Edgar Degas and Michelangelo.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
John Wentz: Absolutely!! My current playlist includes: Meshuggah, High on Fire, Behemoth, Ramones, Dr. Octagon, Gang Starr, Tom Waits, The Misfits and The Dead Weather.
I’m also a crazy podcast subscriber so If I’m not listening to music, which is rare, I’m listening to podcasts.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why?
John Wentz: Jenny Saville. Just so I could watch her paint. As far as mark making goes, I think she is one of the most innovative that fine art has seen in a very, very long time. But that’s just my opinion. I probably wouldn’t contribute much…just sit back and learn.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any deceased artists who would it be and why?
John Wentz: Probably Michelangelo. For me, his drawings are among the best in history. His compositions are just mind blowing. I’m really fascinated by his methods and working habits/ethics. He never stopped working and never stopped searching. I guess I’m a really selfish person because again it would be for the learning experience.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it?
John Wentz: I feel terrible for admitting this, but I’ve never purchased a piece of art. I spend all of my money on art books. I’ve been fortunate enough to trade with other artists. And I do still have the first piece I’ve ever traded for.
1xRun: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
John Wentz: Wait!! I kind of lied about the last question so I’ll correct it here. The university I teach at has a faculty auction every year which benefits our annual student Spring Show. I’m am very fortunate to work with some extremely talented people who also happen to be some of my favorite artists. I try to buy a piece every year to collect the work of my colleagues and also help the students. The last piece I purchased was in 2011.
1xRun: What else do you have in the works?
John Wentz: I am participating in an upcoming group show at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco. That runs from June 16 to July 8. I’ll also be moving all the work left from my solo show at 111 Minna Gallery to my website for sale. Other than that. I’ve been tirelessly contacting galleries in order to book more shows and I’ll be starting on a new body of work in June.
1xRun: Where can people find you on the internette?