Arts Editor’s note: During the pandemic, The Beachcomber has partnered with Vashon Island Visual Artists (ViVA) to highlight the vibrant arts community of Vashon. This week, conceptual artist Oliver Gonzalez tells us, in his own words, about his work. To learn more about ViVA artists and find contact information for them, visit vivaartists.com.
Underneath most of my paintings, there are two paintings that went wrong.
I activate my paintings with scribbles and ink drops and connect the dots. I think making sense of it and believing that it will work out is harder than getting started. When I discover a subject or notice some direction, I can become attached to the painting’s potential. Eventually, I come to a standstill by fear of ”messing up.”
The process of overcoming, searching for meaning, experiencing my mistakes and bad ideas as a part of completing something I love and worth doing — this is what I love about my paintings.
The overall picture is the process of understanding the human condition. I want to develop empathy with my work, I call it “intersubjective expressionism.” I explore fundamental concepts, language, memories, history as I make sense of the painting. The finished subject can be understood intuitively, consciously or constructively. Ultimately, intersubjectivity occurs as my understanding of the subject is experienced by another.
My long dream of making paintings started when I was 15. Fifteen years later, I am finally making paintings, I still dream of making more. I don’t consider my work before 2021 [to be] paintings. Maybe a few, but I’d say most were drafts and studies. It wasn’t until I found Vashon that I acquired the space, tools, and materials. When I first got to Vashon (late spring 2018), I stayed on a friend’s couch for three months (we are still friends). I was able to do some painting then but only made one. Then I rented an Airstream for a year, there I made drafts and wrote ideas for paintings.
Finally, I am in a space where I can make the paintings I knew I could make. Living on Vashon was not the plan, but I’m still here — a story not as unique as I thought, which I find refreshing. — Oliver Gonzalez