Free Experience at Jack Shainman Gallery, NY: an Interview with Leslie Wayne

by Carla Ingrasciotta
September 7, 2017
Carla Ingrasciotta

On the occasion of Jack Shainman Gallery’s exhibition “Free Experience“, we asked artist Leslie Wayne to tell us about the artworks she is presenting and to share with us her practice and way of working.

Leslie Wayne was born in Germany and currently lives and works in New York, NY. Her work was recently included in the two-person exhibition, Africa on My Mind: Leslie Wayne and Malick Sidibé, on view at the Houston Museum of AfricanAmerican Culture, Houston, TX, April 28 –July 1, 2017

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start from the exhibition you’re having at Jack Shainman Gallery. Which are the artworks on displays? Where did you take inspiration from?

Leslie Wayne:  For these paintings I took a lot of inspiration from thinking about other artists’ works and if you look closely you will notice “quotations” from Matisse, Stuart Davis, Robert Ryman, Frank Stella, Marilyn Minter, Jimbo Blachly and Miuccia Prada. It was a way of wearing their influences on my sleeve without giving up my center of gravity.

C.I: In your art, you explore the medium of painting by approaching oil paint as a sculptural material, creating three dimensional objects. Could you tell about your practice and the creative process?

L.W.:  My studio practice is pretty odd for a painter, and would be odd even for a sculptor! I would say that what I do is much more akin to bricolage than traditional painting because I’m preparing a lot of material way in advance of its being integrated into the picture. There is a fair amount of slow building up of many layers of oil paint on one surface with the anticipation that it will eventually be lifted off its support and draped, folded, torn, or cut in order to apply to the surface of the painting. It sounds tedious, but I actually find that the long and labor intensive process gives me time to think about my ideas and develop them as I go along. Creativity doesn’t always happen in the conscious moments. It seeps into your thinking like tributaries into a river. You want to keep the movement of ideas flowing and ride the current when you can. Sometimes you can navigate and sometimes you can’t but you have to always be ready to steer!

C.I: You were born in Germany, grew up in California but currently live and work in New York. Why did you choose to move to New York city? Do you think it’s a stimulating place for an artist to live?

L.W.: The practical reason I moved to New York City was to finish school. I had done two years of undergraduate work right out of high school at the University of California at Santa Barbara. But I left in my Junior year and there were another 9 years of living abroad before I came back to the States to get my life in order and get my degree. I picked Parsons because I felt strongly about finishing my BFA at a school that offered a full liberal arts education as well as a specialized Fine Arts program. And I wanted that to be in New York City, the center of the art world. I’ve lived here for 35 years and I still find it the most stimulating and exciting place to live as an artist. Between the museums, the galleries and the community of other artists, there’s just no place else like it. 

C.I: How is your typical day as an artist?

L.W.: My typical day starts with an hour of exercise, an hour or two at the computer and then I usually get to the studio around 11:00. Luckily I live right next door to my studio so the commute is fantastic! I generally work until around 4:00 unless I have something else to do or someone to see. 

C.I: Any upcoming project we could looking forward to see?

L.W.: Yes. I was commissioned by the MTA to design some windows for the Bay Parkway Station on the F line in Brooklyn. It’s an outdoor elevated station with two sets of windows lining the platforms on both sides of the track. They should be installed in early October and open to the public shortly thereafter. 

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