Interview with Peter Illig, 2006

 Interviewed in 2006 about then current work, entitled “The Logic of Dreams.”  Large 62 foot drawing, shown at Pirate Gallery, Denver. Logic of Dreams (detail)

1.What artist most inspires your work?

Big influences are James Rosenquist, Mark Tansey. Lesser influences are Picasso, David Salle.

2. Are you put off by the term artist as it seems many people are these days?

No, not at all, though I understand why some don’t use the term. It implies the old ‘modernist’ implication of the so-called ‘solitary genius’. We tend to be more ‘assemblers’ today, borrowing and using images from other sources.

 3. In your ‘dream’ work where do you get the images that you display?

Images come from photos I take or photos I find in places such as books, magazines, or the internet. In other words, popular culture and the media. The images are used by me as metaphors.

4. What was your first drawing of?

 After years of painting, I returned to drawing in charcoal. The drawing is called “Kiss” – depicts two people kissing, but thru the outline of a sitting woman. This was in 2002. It’s on the website.

5. Do the politics of the modern world influence your work, or are you more concerned with pop culture and the internal world that the individual lives in?

The latter. While I respect artists who try to get across a political message, the work itself can lose artistic merit, become propagandistic or didactic. On the other hand, “the personal IS political” — there is always a political dimension to important or controversial work, including my own. One’s subjects always carry political or social implications.

6. What single location has most inspired your work or influenced you life?

The American landscape, especially with its advertising signage, roads, and architecture.

7. Where did you attend art school? 

Buffalo State College in NY. Then Univ. of Colorado, Denver, for grad school.

8. How would you describe the Denver art scene?

 Small but vital. Not exactly cutting edge but lots of interesting work. Places like Plus Gallery show some of the most exciting work. Not many commercial galleries but lots of artists co-ops, like Pirate. Most cities don’t have many co-ops; Denver needs them to give emerging artists a chance to show.

9.What makes the art here unique? Or do you feel that outside influence really control what is considered good?

 Not sure art in Denver is unique. Artists here read ‘Art in America’ magazine. We see what goes on elsewhere, such as NY City. There is that feeling that it has to look like art in NY, or Chicago, or LA, or wherever.

10.Where are you showing?

 I have been a member of Pirate since 1999. I have recently joined Plus Gallery, had my first show there in May-June this year. I get into group shows all over Denver and the state.

11. Why so much black and white?

I used to be an oil painter exclusively; was really into color. I have been influenced by cinema. I had been doing paintings in black and white, combined with color images. I like the contrast. B&W tends to have a documentary feel, it carries the ‘ring of truth’. I used to teach photography, really saw how B&W photography carries more ‘weight’ than color. It seemed natural to start working in charcoal since much of my painting was B&W. Color drained out and I did not miss it. It wasn’t essential to my ‘message.’

12. What is your favorite medium? Right now, charcoal on paper, but I am still using oil paint on unstretched canvas.

interview with Joe B.   “23” magazine, Denver


About Peter Illig

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