One of my favorite exhibits currently on view in Chelsea, "New Paintings by Lui Shtini" at Van De Weghe Fine Art serves as yet another reminder that painting, in the right hands, is far from dead. Shtini's paintings bear the precise strokes of an obsessive while his subject matter betrays the predilections of a unsettled mind.
Or, perhaps not. The paintings on view, stylistically reminiscent of Magritte (though shrugging off any surrealist trappings), may elicit unease but they do so by serving as a mirror for our own psychological baggage. ("Bambi," 2008, pictured right.)
The following is an interview conducted the week before Shtini's opening, his first solo show of many I imagine.
What are some of your influences?
Lately I've been focused on older painters, not because of the subject matter but because of the way they treat color. Initially, I was very influenced by Morandi, Francis Bacon and Magritte at a certain level, but I hate Dali. I hate him. I don't want to have anything to do with that. I'm trying to keep the work from simply being a surrealism thing. I'm trying to almost focus on this moment of truth/not truth; this moment of imagination clashing with reality.
How do you decide upon your compositions? Do you work from sets?
I don't. Everything just comes together. It starts with one conversation, where an image or an object somewhere kind of strikes me. It sits there in my head for a while. Then, I find myself thinking about it and thinking about it. There's a reason why, but I can't place what that reason is. As it sits there, it's being built up with other elements that I absorb over time. Within a few months, I'll have a solidified image of the thing I want to make.
Then starts the process of deciding how big the canvas will be. What I'm trying to do also, in order to make the paintings look very real or to feel like they're real, is to make them almost the size they would be in actuality. So if I'm painting a chair, I will paint the chair almost the exact size as a real chair.
Complete interview and more images after the jump.
New Paintings by Lui Shtini
Through 11 April, 2009
Van De Weghe Fine Art
521 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011 map
tel +1 212 929 6633