Other Words

Eric Lundquist/Trish Tillman Interview


trish_eric _studio

Artists Eric Lundquist and Trish Tillman met in graduate school at The School of Visual Arts. A few months post grad they are sharing a workspace in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Both had work in the March 13 Parlor Antics showing, so I asked them to hang out, drink some beer, and answer some questions they seem to get asked a lot.

How has your work changed in the time you two started sharing a studio?

E: I guess our work has always been similar. We were working in parallel before even ever meeting each other. We both used layers of transparency and light.

T: We were creating our own definitions of systems using minimal abstraction.

E: I don’t think we realized the similar strains in our work at first, but someone pointed out that your work was the building up and my work was the breaking down of the same types of information.

T: It’s obvious that our thinking is similar, I mean, at least three or four times today we each had a brief but intense breakdown moment where we knew that something in the work was just not clicking. But, when we started to talk about it, the other person was able to almost immediately notice the key element that was missing. The thing that was being shuffled around in our brain without really being aware of it. So, when that was brought out into the open it was an, “OH, yeah, THAT’s what was missing.” moment.

E: Right. Like, “I should just focus there, at the obvious point”, so that I can then get back on track, haha. It’s really amazing how lately we’ve been able to do that with one another and find it helpful almost instantly.

T: Where as anyone else you tried to do that with would need more of an explanation of what the basic parameters were that you were even working with.


How do you view materials?

T: Do you find that you rush out and buy something that you MUST have right away to complete the project you are working on, but then you get them back to studio and they aren’t quite right?

E: I seem to do that all the time….I think in order to know if something will work or not, I need to see it working with, or not working with the rest of the materials I have. And, see how they will interact in order to then decide. You don’t know what it is that you DON’T need until you see it in place.

T: I do that too – because in your mind you see it perfectly, so of course you need that object to complete the perfect picture. I now have quite a treasure chest of objects that I can pull from, though. I’ll use something later on that was initially intended for an earlier project. It all helps to build your vocabulary, whether you use that object immediately or not, it informs your practice.

Why do you use certain materials?

E: I choose some of the materials I use because they remind me of a specific time or place – have a familiar history.

T: That makes sense, like you are trying to recreate the feel of something you know?

E: Yeah, but also marry that familiarity with something spiritual or otherworldly.

T: I get that. In a similar way, the objects I use are personal, but I add in things that speak to me from a separate place. A lot of objects I use have to do with architectural structure décor. And, with the combination, I intersect the my history with the present, the unknown to the well known.

E: You’ve said before that, the more you use a type of object, the more you are creating a language, that comes up over and over. The materials are the words for the language. I think that’s why sometimes we need to sit with all this stuff and then it speaks to you later on. You have all the letters but the words aren’t formed yet.

T: That language gets pretty crazy sometimes, takes funny turns.

E: Do you feel like when you put that inflatable rainbow in your sculpture the other day that it just finally came together? Like that was the missing word?

T: Hah, actually yes. It was like I had to secretly put it in there, …like who’s watching?… can I really use this here? But, then it just worked with everything else. That element of optimism in an absurd inflatable rainbow was somehow needed to complete the thought.

E: When you have a collection of all these stuff, sometimes you try one of element and it says exactly what you want. You can use all of these different materials with varying degrees of integrity and sometimes it comes down to one cheap plastic sentimental element to carry the work.

T: Yup, gotta hand it to the inflatable rainbow or a plastic plug-in candle for being the prize at the end of all the seriousness.

Matthias Lahme: Interview



V:  A lot of people seem to doubt the existence of the nano-sculpture, “auf wiedersehen.” Do you think it’s really there?

M: Of course, I do. I believe that it’s there. I totally have to trust the great technicians and engineers at Nanoscribe.de who realized my sculpture. And, they trust the images from their Scanning Electron Microscope as proof. In the end, visitors of my show have to trust me like they should trust every other artist to not deliver any silly jokes.

The energy and mood of this piece are grounded in exactly this question.

Michael Rey said, “[it] seems to always evoke some kind of Cartesian doubt, it creates a site of rupture in belief.” I agree, but it’s not just a tiny, tiny, tiny something. It also has a form.

V: All of your work is very intimate and charismatically guides the viewer into a personal conversation with it (or you), whether it’s through your written words, or the absence of your words or the hand craftsmanship of your sculptures. Are you speaking to anyone in particular when you make the text works?

M: No. The words speak to me first. Then, I isolate these fragments out of their original context. Then the words speak for themselves. Then I paint around the written line. It’s not like something written on paper. In the end it’s painting.


V:  Are the cutout works, titled Lashes, meant to be personifications of the gallery or of an invisible entity that we must believe exists, like “auf wiedersehen”?

M: No. It can be seen as an ‘association-game’ with the double meaning of “Lashes.” They are untitled, “Lashes” is just the unofficial title for this series of cutout works.

In combination with other works—especially with figurative works like “auf wiedersehen”—it creates an area of tension that comes from the will or urge of the viewer to see something ‘real.’ It’s the ambition of the human eye and brain to perceive patterns and figurations.V:.

V: When did you start clarifying that your work is about faith and belief? Is this a true or false assumption about your work?

M: It’s true. And false. It hurts me to talk about it, and to explain it too much will lock the door for others to enter into my world.


V:  Who has influenced you most in your artistic development?

M: Dave Gahan

V:  The lead singer of Depeche Mode. What is one characteristic that you and David Gahan share?

M: We are moved by a higher love.


V:  You were included in a recent regional exhibition that categorized and named your generation of artists from the Northern Rheinland area of Germany as “Post-ironic.” Would you consider yourself rightly categorized or see this title fitting your work?

M: My works are not meant to be ironic (although they sometimes share a certain sense of humor, or let’s say a twinkle in one’s eye).

I first liked the idea of being one of those post-ironic-artists, but that means that there has been an ironic movement, which I don’t see. Curators are always relying on this categorizing, on this kind of linear history that they need as a structure. They feel helpless without that; they are obsessed with it. They trust that there is an official stream of events, artists, and movements, but we all know that there has been, and is so much more, than the official art-history in our books and magazines. And, don’t forget that these titles are very often a result of the fact that you can only raise money with a “strong idea.”

So, coming back to post-ironic: I consider it just as this common ‘proposal-language.’

V:  How did you respond to the show with your installation?

M: I first urged myself not to respond at all, just to show my works. I showed 2 large, scary, black cutout monsters and an oversized rosary out of clay on the wall, which could be seen as a huge smiling face due to the coloring of the pearls, and one of my black handwriting paintings. I chose the one saying “people familiar with the matter.” When it was hanging, it suddenly looked like the subtitle of the whole show, and I totally disliked that idea.

Just a few hours before the opening I decided that I had to change it!! I replaced it with a new black handwriting painting that said: “it doesn’t matter.” Finally, that was my way of responding to the show.

Vanessa Conte is an american artist that met her husband-Marcus Herse, also an artist at UCLA, during grad school. After graduate school they moved  back to Marcus’s home in Germany for a few years . They recently moved back to Los Angeles. In addition to his studio practice, Marcus has opened an exhibition space called JB Jurve, with his friend Michael Rey, also an L.A.-based artist.
Matthias Lahme is an a german-based artist, friend, and currently has an exhibtion on view at JB  Jurve in Los Angeles. Vanessa asked Matthias some questions.