Clark Magazine (France): No. 39 —December 2009

Terry Rodgers

Upperclass Hero

by Romain Dauriac

Romain: First question, why did you choose painting to express yourself (and not photography)?

Terry: I’ve always done both. You’ll see some new work soon. There are no boundaries in creating of the kind of work I do. Of course I’m interested in photography, graphics, sculpture, painting, and video – anything that opens a door to looking at who we are.

Romain: Do you always work with a base of photography or do you imagine all the scenarios?

Terry: For the kind of painting I’m doing now, that combines familiar details of our shared physical world and an obsession with noticing things, on one hand, with much larger and more complex metaphors, on the other, the information in a photo allows me to play freely with a sense of reality and a sense of the fantastical.

Romain: Why are you fascinated by the upper-class or show business people? Why represent them in a ultra realistic way?

Romain: It‘s like you try to sublime your subjects to create a distanciation between people you paint and the spectator… Is it a mean to describe an very critical point of view,  to « denonciate » the difference between the low class and upper class?

Terry: The people in these paintings are somehow the half-real inhabitants of our collective imaginations, the ghosts of our desires.  The distance the viewer experiences is actually between the language of our phantasy and the anxiety of our lives, the shape of our inadequacies. And the seeming “realism” is a way to focus on both the unreality of our mediated lives and the very physical world that we inhabit.

Terry: And I have no sense of criticizing. I marvel at the double-edged sword that beauty is. I’m blown away by the world’s infinite and relentless energy. And at the same time I notice the anguish that pervades every level of society. It seems that even these nightmares of perfection are invaded by the struggle to cross the great divide that lies between us. Our very real and vulnerable desires are so easily misdirected. And I imagine that any system/culture that we generate will devolve into some form of this packaged or mediated thinking. It’s not likely that we could enforce a universal therapy to make us all amazingly open, generous, kind and sharing.

Romain: How was you connected first to this society?

Terry: The “society” in the paintings is a confection of the dreams, icons, idealized beings and media-induced phantasies that populate our imaginations. We are all connected to the flow that courses through our cultural veins. In some cases it may be more punk, hip hop, Hell’s Angels, preppy, religious, tweedy or couture, but we all have it in some way.

Romain: In the composition, you never leave any space between people, and people never communicate between them…why?Is it to create on clostrophobia for the spectator?

Terry: This visual compression is to give the experience of how much there is to comprehend and deal with – and it may suggest more than just the interpersonal. It may include the interlocking energies of the city, the media, the branded thinking we are absorbed by, and the tension between the exterior plenitude and our interior struggles. The lack of communication is to accentuate the experience around us – a lot of talk, enthusiasm, and smoke – but very little comfortable connection and warmth.

Romain: You’ve been in galleries for 20 years, and you’re always focus on similar themes, but could you resume briefly what changed in your inspiration today? is the materialsim had completely changed your relationship and our relationships with peoples?

Terry: No, I can’t explain what is different. You can see hints of this in the earlier work, but things just seem to have fallen into place around the new millennium. The obviousness of the materialism only accentuates its absurdity. But it is still  the world we live in. Magnificent, troubling, indifferent, infinitely engaging, and all we have.

Romain: Do you think the evolution of your paintings is good reflect of the evolution( Or degradation) of our modern times?

Terry: I have no way of knowing. I imagine that there was much less communication in the days when a father’s word was law and women were chattel.

Romain: Today with the digitals technicals, why do you continue to use the painting, and are you attract by the graphism?

Terry: See paragraph 1 and last paragraph

Romain: In the world of art market, to you what could make the difference between an artist and an artistic director?

Romain: In you last arworks, what do you present recently? You will come soon in Europe to for an exhibition? What does it mean to you?

Terry: I’ll be coming to Brussels for an opening January 14, 2010, at Aeroplastics. It is an opportunity to show a wide range of new work. Some will be familiar, but we will have some new things that cross the boundaries between painting and graphics, and video. And Europe is where I have found an supportive audience, so it is really where I feel a part of me has found a home.