Interview with the artist, by curator

1)  What do you see as the most interesting and/or meaningful trends in
contemporary art today?

To me, the most meaningful art is questioning everything we believe about art. Really, everything has been done with art in its current state. The only truly “new” art will be seen when new technology comes along. That’s why video technology in art is cutting-edge right now. But in traditional visual art, the most innovative art calls into question what we once saw as important in art. In other words, categories such as abstract, representation, photography, film, expressionist, surrealist, pop art, sculpture, avant-garde, classical, “High art” and “low” or commercial art, are all fluid and interchangeable. Anything goes. There aren’t clear distinctions about styles or subjects. What matters is quality, and that, too, becomes harder to define. We really are at an “end times” point in the history of art; some of the best art “recycles” past art in new and visually exciting ways. It’s a carnival atmosphere.

Another of the important trends is art that affects or changes our social or moral outlook. 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.

2) How have contemporary trends affected your art, if only in terms of


My interest lies in taking traditional painting forms: oil on canvas, realistic illustration styles, the human figure, etc., and making them subversive and ironic. I want my work to be accessible to anyone, but I realize only a few will ”get” what I am trying to do. For example, I might combine realism and cubism, writing, photography, comic book illustration, and social messages that are distinctly American, in a painting, using layers — how we think of several things at once, and free-associate.

A serious artist can’t be content with making pretty pictures.

I try to make art work that operates on the edge of what’s acceptable and recognized as art (paint, gallery setting, recognizable subject matter) but the message, if you will, should ask questions about being human, about our liberal-humanist technological society, and call art itself into question. This is asking a lot and I have a way to go.


About Peter Illig

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