Interview

/Interview
Interview2017-09-17T00:57:05+00:00

Interviews, Artist Statements and Video

A journey from contemporary abstract Painting & drawing to environmental assemblage and public art.
Other interviews between the artist and a New York arts magazine, the artist and the National Association of the Visual Arts in Australia, the artist and student interviews and an artist statement.

Dr. John Dahlsen: An Interview

What were some of your major experiences and influences as a young artist?

As a young artist, I was fortunate enough to interact with many people who played a significant role in shaping the Australian contemporary art world. During the late seventies, I studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne Australia; it was there that I had the opportunity to meet people like Fred Williams, Roger Kemp, and drawing teacher Noel Counihan. These and other lecturing artists, including Gareth Sansom, Paul Partos and Allan Mittelman, demonstrated to me what it meant to have an energetic response to the creative process.

It was during these years at art school in Australia, at the end of the seventies that I first began collecting driftwood to make into furniture; and It was this experience that 20 years later I remembered and returned to the very same coastline to collect driftwood once again.

Exposure to international art in London and Europe, in the early eighties, encouraged me to pursue my career as an artist.

One defining moment was experienced at the Tate Gallery in London, 1981. In a gallery space devoted to Mark Rothko, the American abstract expressionist, I experienced the depth and commitment in his work. The exhibition drew an intense emotional response from me, moving me to tears, and provided a level of inspiration that I had not experienced up until that point. Another Rothko piece (from a different period), seen several years later while visiting the National Gallery of Victoria / Australia, filled me with the same feeling of understanding. Looking back, with the benefit of experience, I can say that it was the sincerity and purity from within his paintings that moved me.

Upon returning to Australia, after residing some years in the United States, I took up a position as artist in residence at Editions Gallery, Western Australia.

Living and working with other artists is an education in itself, providing insight into how they work. Fellow painter Keith Looby prompted me to explore more painterly qualities in my work while John Beard would help deepen my exploration into abstraction. The vitality and intensity with which both of these artists approached their work left quite an impact on me, subsequently affecting the way I approached my own art practice.

Significant support in the form of both patronage and exhibition opportunities by Alan Delaney from Delaney Galleries in Perth, also assisted greatly to my having the abilities to persue my art, with no compromise. Pat Corrigan, in later years was another figure to emulate this support.

Some of the great masters of course provided me with great inspiration. I must mention 17th century Spanish artist (Diego Rodriguez de Silva) Velazquez for his monumental figurative paintings which reveal, upon closer inspection, the most amazing abstract painterly qualities.

The later post-impressionist movement was highly inspirational, particularly artists like Van Gogh who’s work was explosive and brilliant once he had discovered his own visual language.

A more complete list should also include American Abstract Expressionists, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and later Roy Lichtenstein, and more recently Jeff Koons, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Also I want to mention being influenced by the Australian artists Tony Tuckson and Ian Fairweather, primarily due to the energy that their work conveys.