Sourharvest (SH) interviewed Joram Roukes (JR) for his upcoming exhibition in Thinkspace Gallery’s main room, American Ornithology. The opening reception for this new body of work will with be Saturday, October 10 from 6-9pm. The exhibition will be on view till October 31st. Please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website for any additional information.
SH: What was your inspiration or creative thought process while developing the work for your upcoming exhibition, American Ornithology?
JR: My inspiration generally comes from everyday situations that I reassemble in a collage like way. I want to create fragmented situations and figures that are inspired by personal matters, social media and contemporary culture as a whole. For this body of work I wanted to implement a bird angle.
SH: Why the title American Ornithology for your new exhibition. Can you elaborate upon?
JR: As a kid I used to go bird-watching relentlessly. My granddad and my parents would take me out to this national park by our house or we’d go on hikes in France when we were out there camping during summer vacations. I learned a lot about birds. everything basically. And as I started drawing, I mostly drew birds. For this show, I wanted to bring those three things together: My fascination for birds, American popular culture, and painting as it has evolved in this stage of my life. The series in a way is a result of watching my current environment through an ornithologists view
SH: Can you walk us through what an average day in your studio would look like?
JR: I wake up, make coffee, Walk my dog Vincent and get some breakfast, get back in and then clean the brushes I left out to dry the night before. If I’m working on a painting, I continue working on that. Adding layers, finishing others. Either that or I’m preparing collages, finding new compositions, stretching canvasses. Then some more coffee, another walk with Vincent and the same cycle.
SH: What is your spirit animal and why?
JR: Any bird. If you’d ask someone what kind of animal they’d want to be and they say ‘cat’ or ‘elephant’, there’s something wrong with you. You’re telling me you don’t want to fly?? I’ve done the walking on land thing. Either gills or wings. But I’ll take wings. I can relate.
SH: You’ve expressed your work is a commentary on western issues, what are a few of those issues you address and what do you do in your own life to help remedy those problems?
JR: My paintings have touched on subjects like consumerism and the banalities of America’s popular culture. In this series, I did a painting that is based on a press photo of the Baltimore riots. I add irony and absurdity to the piece to throw off the viewer a little bit but still remains that sense of violence. I think addressing it and maybe even joking about it is what I do to bring certain things under the attention. I wouldn’t say I remedy anything. I think about these issues just as much as the next person. Painting them is also a way for me to figure them out.
SH: How do you know when a piece is finished?
JR: When it tells me it is.
SH: Do you have a favorite brush or brand of paint?
JR: I love kolinsky martyr and Old Holland oil paint
SH: Where was the first place you exhibited your work and how did the show come about?
JR: Not including my grad show exhibition, the first show I participated in in a professional setting was in Amsterdam, for de Jong Talent 2006 exhibition, showcasing the 30 most promising art school graduates from the Netherlands. I was very proud to be part of this.
SH: If time and money were not an issue, what is your dream project?
JR: I’d still do what I do. I love the studio practice. But I’d love to work on something very large. I’d want to recreate Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa in a contemporary way. Same size. Similar composition.
SH: In an interview you shared David Lynch is an artist you’d like to meet, what is your favorite work by him?
JR: Mullholland Drive. This cohesive oddness is beautiful. It makes all the sense in the world without making any at the same time. That’s a balance every artist looks for.
SH: What is the best piece of advice you have been given about life? About art?
JR: If you want to be stupid, be smart about it.
Don’t paint for money or instagram likes. If you’re not happy with what you make, it’s not good enough.
SH: What is a piece of advice you would give to another artist who looks up to you?
JR: The key to success is to stand out. Do something that stands out. Make something big. If you don’t have resources, find resources. Table top illustration don’t get you on gallery’s radars. And don’t fucking quit because its ‘tough’.