Welcome to Short Talk. We hope to bring the voices of the art world front and center with short interviews of artists, curators, gallerists, and all the parties in between that keep the world spinning, and we mean spinning. We kick off the series with artist Micheal St John who's new show -- Democracy Portraits -- will be at New York City's Team Gallery at 83 Grand Street from 1/16 until 2/22/20.
Who were the artists that influenced you most? Do you feel that their influence continues in your work today?
Michael St John:
Warhol and Rauschenberg mostly, the idea of recording the time and ideas I live in (the days events) is especially important to me. "The gap between art and life." Their ideas continue to inspire me still. As Jokerman in Full Metal Jacket says:
"I am in a world of shit and I'm alive and not afraid."
Has the changing political landscape changed your art? Do you think that the current political landscape is reflected in your Democracy Portraits show? What do you think about your depiction of Trump in these new paintings?
As far as the political content, it has been weaving in and out of my work since I started showing. It became more urgent with the election of Dick Cheney (ha ha) and all the presidents and politicians since! For more, read Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher.
What are your thoughts about the contemporary art scene? What are the biggest changes that you have seen in the artworld?
The biggest change I've seen is the breakdown of time or the disregard of what time it is. The repurposing of inventions and styles from the past to make supposedly "contemporary art." I also see it throughout the culture, so maybe it's just a reflection of our present time that seems to entertain all time at once.
Some think your artwork is elitist as it eludes to art history? What are your thoughts on arts for the masses?
Art history, as an artist, is my language. It's the A-B-C's you make words out of to speak. And I don't mean just the canon. I mean as much as you can take in. It's the toolbox and the more tools the better. It's a big world!
Has your work changed since you stopped teaching?
The only thing that's changed since I stopped teaching is all my time is my time!