"In The Studio With:..." is a weekly feature that takes us into the private creative spaces of emerging artists to discuss their work and career.
We recently sat down in the studio of Queens-based artist Ethan Boisvert. He has been working steadily at his craft as a painter and multi disciplinary artist since 2002, when he graduated from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He relocated to New York from East Windsor Connecticut a few years ago and has been showing in group and solo exhibits ever since.
His paintings can most easily be described as "abstract" narratives, drawing on his personal experiences. He has also created a number of public works including commissions for the Hartford Storefront Resurrection Effort, The Farmington Avenue bus station in West Hartford called "Pop Up Shelter," and the scenic backdrop for CONNetic Dance's production of "Nutcracker Suite and Spicy."
Anthony Philip Fine Art: Who are some of your influences?
Ethan Boisvert: Some of my earliest influences were Mondrian, Basquiat, De Kooning, Pollock, Picasso, and Lichtenstein. I liked the idea of returning to Modernism through abstraction, and forging different styles together, to make a new kind of art. As time past I got more and more interested in artists who mastered color, primarily Howard Hodgkins, Milton Avery and Andy Warhol with his portraits. As of recent for the past 5 years or so I have a deeper vested interest in mastered composition, which I can see, no better then Goya’s prints and etchings. Kind of in sync with this, I think because of the simplicity in composition, I have been really curious about old religious works, hieroglyphics, and folk art, I like the otherworldly nature that evokes from the mystery of that flat image that stands as an icon for an idea. Its pretty powerful stuff, one could even say frightening. Now in just three years of New York, I have seen a lot of abstraction, a lot of new figurative work going, a lot of work in general. This all plays into my practice as well. Currently I am exploring the idea a collaging my life events, colors I see, people in the street to forge some kind of bizarre reality with an icon like quality, easy to read visually, but intellectually, poses many more questions.
APFA: What are you trying to say with the work you make?
EB: If I am giving any message, I hope it is a question. I cannot stand work that tells you something that can be so literal it’s not even a joke. Even if it is a joke, it usually gets old the minute it is stated. So I like to invoke questions of place, time, and reality. It’s more fun that way.
APFA: How long do you work on a piece before considering it done or moving on to something else?
EB: This is a question I hear very often and a good one but there is no real answer except when I think it is awesome and I don’t want to part with it, then it has reached perfection. But given time, that will change too. In a year I might be very angry at its outcome. So directly answering the question, its anywhere from 2 hrs of work to 40 and usually 2 is better. But then again, in 6 months, the painting may change again.
APFA: What other artistic endeavors do you undertake?
EB: I used to be very much into making music and kind of fell out of that interest in college. I played clarinet, guitar, sax, and sang. I had my own band. Sometimes I think about picking that back up. I also cook everyday and love to experiment when I feel free from the burden of hunger to just make something quick.
APFA: Take us through the process of making a work of art.
EB: I have always been keen on a process of Automatic Drawing, something the surrealists used to do. In the past, all my paintings started this way. I would generally try to make some shapes much larger than others so that essentially a composition could be formed, somewhat in the classical sense so it can be read. I then would water down paints, and fill in the shapes in a haphazard manner. From there I would try to make I dialogue from shape to line to color. These days though, I am playing with other processes in addition to what I have explained. Sometimes I start right with the paint and have no drawing at all. Sometimes I make a digital painting, print it out, grid out a larger canvas and paint from the print. Essentially once it begins, the process is very similar of creating forms, patterns and layering colors in a way that I see fit. Often little alterations are made that can change the whole painting, like messing with the edge tension of a form. So this fine-tuning of many of the artworks can take a great deal of time. One thing I like to do is, take my least successful painting and try to make it better than the best. Every painting competes for the top. I think this is a good way to keep bringing up the whole body of work.
If you would like to find out more about Ethan Boisvert and his art, please visit his website at: http://ethanboisvert.com/home.html