Q&A: Mike Giant “Reflections on Past, Present, and Future” & Adam 5100 “Even Keel” – Guerrero Gallery – Interview by Michelle Fleck for Warholian.com
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Guerrero Gallery opened the much-awaited opening for Adam 5100’s “Even Keel” and Mike Giant’s “Reflections on Past, Present, and Future” a few weeks ago and we were there to take it all in.
There’s no shortage of love for Mike Giant in SF, and this was obvious as fans and friends came out to see the show. Mike’s work continues to hold our attention and interest, and this current exhibition was proof that he is continuing to push forward as an artist in several ways. Fans familiar with Mike’s work might have been a little surprised to see that most of the pieces in the show were not black and white pen and ink drawings. There were several collage pieces, as well as black paintings on canvas, two very different mediums for someone renowned for his amazingly clean and steady use of ink.
In the Project Room, Adam 5100’s “Even Keel” presented equally impressive and intricate works. For this show, Adam presented an amazing spray enamel painting. Surrounding this piece were frames containing layers upon layers of the hand-cut paper stencils that are used to create his paintings. These stencils were layered in the order they would have been used to create the paintings, then stitched together. The cotton rag paper stencils stood beautifully on their own and provided a unique insight into Adam’s process and great technical skill.
I got a chance to ask Mike about this work, where it’s coming from, and where it might be headed.
Those that know your work might be surprised to hear that you’ve created collages and paintings for this show. When did you begin to incorporate new media into your work and how are you feeling about your departure from ink on paper?
Giant: I have made paintings and collages before but never presented like this in a gallery. The decision to show something other than drawings on paper this time was a conscious one. I wanted to make some artworks that were very personal as well as long lasting. I used enamel paint on the canvas works so they will last for a long time. My works on paper feel rather fragile in comparison. It felt like it was time to make some sturdier work.
Your show at Guerrero Gallery is about the past and how life’s experiences have shaped you, and a lot of the pieces in the show had text and stories that felt very personal. Tell us about how this idea of reflection is manifested in these new pieces.
Giant: Well, I suppose my reflections are spelled out quite literally in these new pieces. I noted all kinds of pivotal moments in my life, good and bad. And in doing so I built a sort of narrative that didn’t appear until the pieces were finished. In whole, I think they tell a good story about who I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going. At least that was my intention.
Give us a little back-story on the found image collages you created with handwritten vignettes about various women. What was going through your mind creating these?
Giant: I buy lots of magazines and every few months I go through them all one more time and rip out all the images that I find inspiring. For years I’ve been throwing those pages in a box for safekeeping. When it was decided that I would create 8 collage pieces for this show, I sorted through my box of magazine images and separated them into various subject matter, images of women being a particularly voluminous collection. When building the collages, I mostly let my sense of graphic design take over the layout. Once all the images were in place I would start to add comments and anecdotes to the pieces until they looked “complete”. At base, the comments are simply acknowledgements of the important people in my life, most of them being the women I’ve loved over the years.
Is there a way that your creative process changed since you’ve stopped tattooing? How has the imagery in your work shifted since then?
Giant: I don’t think my creative process has changed much at all since I slowed down on the tattooing. I’m still vastly interested in tattoo art. I still love drawing tattoo imagery. I still love getting new tattoos as well. It’s a huge part of my lifestyle. I can’t imagine that ever changing.
Where do you see your work heading in the future? Is there anything exciting you’re working on right now?
Giant: I’d like to take a year or two off from the artshows and work on some publishing, film and music projects. I can feel a lot of internal energy building up that needs to get expressed in some new ways. I’ll always be drawing though. I love my Sharpies.
All in all, it was great to see Mike Giant covering new ground in his work, and as usual we always look forward to seeing more from him. Adam 5100 also presented some gorgeous detailed pieces that really beg to be seen in person. If you didn’t get a chance to make it to the opening, both artists’ work will be up until January 1st.
- Michelle Fleck for Warholian.com
Mike Giant “Reflections on Past, Present, and Future”
Adam 5100 (Project Room) “Even Keel”
December 11, 2010 — January 01, 2011
Guerrero Gallery – Mission District – San Francisco, CA
Photos by Michael Cuffe for Warholian.com