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Painting

Q&A: Quappi Projects


“We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts.“ – John Brooks


Artist, John Brooks

Artist, John Brooks

Q&A with John Brooks about Quappi Projects

‘Quappi’ was the nickname of Mathilde von Kaulbach, who was married to German New Objectivist painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950). It was derived from the similarity of her surname to the German word Kaulquappe, meaning ‘tadpole’.

It is a singular phrase with no other formal meaning, which seems to delight Louisville artist John Brooks, and so he chose it as the moniker of his new exhibition initiative, Quappi Projects. Occupying most of his current studio space at 1520 B Lytle Street in the Portland neighborhood, the mission is to showcase four artists each year from in and outside of Louisville. The inaugural show will be work of Adam Chuck, a Cleveland, Ohio native, now living and making work in Brooklyn, New York.

What motivated you to devote some of your studio space to exhibition space for other artists?

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

Running a gallery is an endeavor I've long been interested in, but it was difficult to imagine a way in which I could maintain a studio practice, run a gallery, and afford to do both. I was between studios in 2015 and spent the summer in Berlin. Part of that time was spent studying under the German artist Norbert Bisky, whose work I've admired for a long time.  We discussed a lot of things, including lamenting the difficulty of finding avenues to show and share work. He advised that I (or anyone!) should just "start my own thing;" so I've had this bee in my bonnet for a couple of years. Since January 2016 I've shared my Lytle Street studio space with another artist, and when he decided to move out I knew that this was my opportunity. The space is perfect - clean, bright, white, and with enough room to allow me to continue my studio practice and to exhibit others' work in a proper way.

As an artist, I know how difficult it can be to find arenas in which to show your work, and I am thrilled by the idea that I can provide that opportunity to other artists. Also, I've been fortunate to live in both London and Chicago, and have traveled the United States and Europe fairly extensively, so I feel like I have a broad range of art-related experiences and knowledge that I can rely on to help inform the direction of the gallery's platform.

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

How did you become aware of Adam Chuck's work?

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

Adam Chuck paints primarily images from social media; fittingly, we "met" quite randomly through Instagram a few years ago. Though we've never yet met in person, we have developed what I consider to be a real friendship, which speaks both to the power and possibilities of social media but also the power and purity of his work. When it became clear that Quappi Projects was really going to happen, I knew I wanted to inaugurate the gallery with a show of Adam's work and happily he said yes. I'm a fan (and a collector) of his work and am so excited to be able to share it with the Louisville art community and the city at large. At first glance, Adam's work might seem to border on the salacious, but I think it creeps up to that line and then walks back. Most of the work is tiny, phone-screen-sized, owing its existence to social media platforms such as Instagram. The work is intimate, sensual and extremely honest. Each work is an exposure, really; it is essentially about reaching out, about the deep desire to connect, and represents an attempt to know and be known. In an age of terror and big fears, Adam's work seems infused with knowledge of those fears, but speaks more to the fundamental needs and basic human fears of need: to be desired, to be loved, to be seen, to be considered.

Tell me about the term "quappi"? I know the Beckman story, but what does it mean to you?

I believe very much in the transformative power of art. I have experienced this enough times in my own life to understand and value its merit, and I firmly believe that the highest function of art is to allow human beings to know ourselves more deeply. My own work has been concerned with the emotional resonance of particular experiences and what Max Beckmann described as "the deepest feeling about the mystery of being." Quappi Projects' goal is to exhibit contemporary art reflecting the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist is mighty strange. Perhaps all times are strange, but I don't think there's any arguing that we are living in very strange times.

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts. I find that very worrying. I think the experiences of 20th Century German artists like Max Beckmann (and others) are relevant to us today.  Beckmann didn't consider himself a political person, yet his entire life was thrown into upheaval because of politics. He considered political concerns to be secondary to the concerns of the spiritual or metaphysical. Although I am a political person (and have a BA in Political Science) I agree with him and certainly find most explicitly political work too narrowly focused. At the same time, I think the best art reflects the times in which it was created, so it must have some element of the political. Take Velazquez' "Las Meninas," for example - artistically, it is a masterpiece, but it also tells us so much about the Spanish Court and what was going on at the time. I find that balance fascinating, and hopefully we can show work that is interesting in the same way. Even if we fall just a little short of "Las Meninas," we'll be very successful!

I plan to alternate non-Louisville-based and Louisville-based artists have a great series of artists lined up: Baghdad, Iraq-born artist Vian Sora, who now lives and works in Louisville; Louisville native Whit Forrester, who lives in Chicago and just graduated with an MFA from Columbia College; wood artisan Michael James Moran, a central Kentucky native who now lives and works in the Hudson Valley; and photographer Ryan Tassi.

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

Beckmann credited Quappi with keeping him going, keeping him on task and inspired. I think we're living in times when we must keep going, be on task, and be inspired. It's very easy to want to give into the notion of being quiet and comfortable, but I think we must resist that. We must be open, communicate, and connect. I'm hoping the spirit of Quappi can help me do that.

Adam Chuck / Instant Gratification

August 18 – September 29
Opening: Friday, August 18 / 5:00-9:00pm

Quappi Projects
1520 B Lytle Street
Gallery open by appointment only
www.quappiprojects.com

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Photography

Vignette: Charles Mintz


“Hardware stores are about self-reliance and culture that values results rather than shiny new things. In today’s world, they are survivors.” — Charles Mintz


"Cedar Center Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2015), $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Cedar Center Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2015), $1000 | BUY NOW

As we make the world shiny and new with urban renewal and fashionable shopping malls, there is still a network of old-fashioned hardware stores located in American communities. The counters are aged; once sharp corners worn to a nub, yellowed tile floors, the glare of fluorescent lights on plastic packaged merchandise filling every square inch of space, so that the color of the walls remain a mystery. Photographer Charles Mintz has been documenting these archetypal exemplars of the American character for the last few years, searching out the rustic and utilitarian businesses wherever he travels.

As is his custom, Mintz uses a large format film camera with interior exposures ranging from one to six minutes. He explains how it serves to break the ice with his subjects:  “Though ungainly, the camera is appreciated by the owners, who gave their permission for the project, and allows some control over focus and perspective. The project is a continuation of work exploring the Great American Dream and the meaning of home. Hardware stores are where we go to fix things - to make things. They are about self-reliance and culture that values results rather than shiny new things. In today’s world, they are survivors.”

"  Heuser Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2016), $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Heuser Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2016), $1000 | BUY NOW

“All of my work is about things that are important to me. It is built around my biography but is not about me. Rather it is about the culture of my time and place. It is intended to make you feel and to make you think, though it is not didactic. While this project is not traditional portraiture, it pictures the people that own, operate and shop in these stores. In addition, we can see both common elements and hints of where we are. There is a sense of belonging, a sense of place. To the extent possible, I want the subjects to speak for themselves with a minimum of my interpretation.”

Since becoming a full time photographer in 2008, Mintz has explored portraiture through objects and locations: The Album Project, Precious Objects and, still in progress, Costumes. Even Every Place – I Have Ever Lived, where people in the images are largely unrecognizable, is uniquely personal, beginning with my childhood home that was in foreclosure and continuing in all my lifetime neighborhoods the work has become less traditionally photographic both in form and method.

"  Hollywood Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2016), $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Hollywood Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2016), $1000 | BUY NOW

Mintz was Artist in Residence at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley CA in March 2016, and he was was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2015. His work can be found in museums, including the Smithsonian Museum of American History, private and corporate collections in North America, Europe and Asia.

Trillium Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press, published his latest book, “Lustron Stories”, in 2016. The Lustron series was exhibited at LVA’s PUBLIC Gallery in Louisville in 2015.

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Age: 69
Education: Mintz studied photography at Maine Photographic Workshop, Parsons School of Design, the International Center for Photography, Lakeland Community College and Cuyahoga Community College. He has a BSEE from Purdue University and an MSEE from Cleveland State University.
Gallery Representation: 1point618 Gallery
Website: www.chuckmintz.com

"  Krays Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2015), $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Krays Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2015), $1000 | BUY NOW

"  Rodeo Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2016), $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Rodeo Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2016), $1000 | BUY NOW

"  Rutledge Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2015), $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Rutledge Hardware" by Charles Mintz, 32 x 40in, Inkjet Print From Scanned FIlm (2015), $1000 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Are you interested in being on Artebella?    Click here    to learn more.

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Painting

Vignette: John Brooks

A photograph of John Brooks in his studio.

A photograph of John Brooks in his studio.

"All Of A Sudden You Made Him Laugh" by John Brooks, 20x24in, oil on board (2016), $800   |  BUY NOW

"All Of A Sudden You Made Him Laugh" by John Brooks, 20x24in, oil on board (2016), $800 BUY NOW

If you approach John Brooks’ with no foreknowledge of him or his work, his paintings may strike you as primitive, or an example of ‘folk art’. We might begin by acknowledging the limitations of visual art nomenclature, which often seems designed to pigeonhole an artist; semantics aside, that reading becomes fascinating when one hears Brooks speak about his work in such thoughtful and intellectual terms. In his artist’s statement he tells us: “Regardless of subject matter or media, within each work is contained its own emotionally charged atmosphere and each work seems to have both specific and nebulous meaning.”

Earlier this year, Brooks moved into a new studio space in the Portland Neighborhood, and he thought he would use the change of space to move his work in a slightly different direction. “I've been collecting overheard phrases for years and have used them in my writing but have never previously used them in my visual work. This work is a real departure for me - it's abstract but also features the concreteness of text. But what I like about the phrases is the ambiguity they take on because they have no context.  Some harmless phrases, like "Mommy Has It," even take on an air of the sinister.” 

"Untitled #1" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #1" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 | BUY NOW

Yet Brooks found himself turning back to more familiar ground. “Thinking about the sinister and multi-dimensional meaning in that series of text-based paintings led me to return to my previous subject matter - faces - but with an eye on the mood of uncertainty that's seemingly overtaken the world, at least here in the US. This is a series still very much in progress, but they are about the zeitgeist, all that's happening in 2016: the fear of terror, the fear of unknown, the fear of ‘the other’.” Brooks certainly does see the new work as undeniably political, but he also believes they have an individual identity of their own; both personal and universal.

Brooks is a Kentucky native. He studied Political Science and English literature at the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, and art at Central St. Martins and the Hampstead School of Art in London, England. His work is held in private collections in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, and India. Brooks has exhibited extensively in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as Art Chicago. He moved back to Louisville, KY after several years in Chicago, Illinois. His last solo exhibition in Louisville, It Is So Beautiful Here, was at Swanson Contemporary in May 2015.

Hometown: Frankfort, KY
Age: 38
Education: BA in Political Science, College of Charleston; Studied art in England at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, the Hampstead School of Art and the Camden Art Centre
Website: http://www.johnedwardbrooks.com

"Untitled #2" by John Brooks,  24x36in , oil on board (2016), CFP |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #2" by John Brooks, 24x36in, oil on board (2016), CFP | BUY NOW

"Untitled #3" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #3" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 | BUY NOW

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Please contact    josh@louisvillevisualart.org    for further information on advertising through Artebella.

Please contact josh@louisvillevisualart.org for further information on advertising through Artebella.