Uprise Art officially expanded club membership to Boston on Thursday evening with a Launch Party at Oficio on Newbury Street. Artists, guests, and new Uprise members celebrated with music and cocktails courtesy of Saint Germain.
"The Phantom Queen"
Edgar Varela Fine Arts
April 28th - May 19th, 2012
727 South Spring Street
John Klukas’ style is heavily influenced by surrealism, drawing upon dreams for much of his work. The images in “The Phantom Queen” explore an archetypal character distinct from those common today; a violent embodiment of the potency of female power.
Where are you from and where do you currently reside? I was born in Abington, Pennsylvania, and by route of several cities I now live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Santiago Moix, Inka Essenghigh, Ghada Amer, Reza Farkondeh, Harry Partch, Henry Miller, Nicolai Tesla, James Ensor, Benvenuto Cellini, and Da Vinci. Storytellers and inventors.
When did you begin printmaking?
I started in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I worked in a printmaking studio. However, my wanderlust and my need for new skills led me to other shops throughout the country, and eventually to New York. I am very thankful that I acquired my knowledge of printmaking through true masters of the art.
Your works are often narrative and there are characters that reappear in different pieces. Where are these stories from?
The characters themselves tend to come from a phrase or name that gets lodged in my head. Then I begin to obsessively draw these new figures. The more time I spend with them the more their characteristics, ambitions, and flaws begin to develop. I have many great collaborators, most notably Benjamin Folstein, and after countless discussions a world is formed around these characters. The stories themselves are the existential problems facing both men and women.
You often approach a story through different mediums (sculptural instruments, audio recordings, prints etc.). How do you feel about these parts being experienced separately rather than as a whole?
I create these stories in parts. To me each piece is embedded with its own life and story. A snapshot or a bit of ephemera from the characters life. Each fragment stands alone, meanwhile it is part of a much larger picture. The use of different mediums relates well to the form of storytelling in that I am able to incorporate many of the senses; audio, visual, and kinetic.
What story or project are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a new story. The saga of Jimmy Canal. A cowboy who lives by his own code, in a land where the only law is the gun……
This “story” will be told in DUMBO at Kunsthalle Galapagos in November.
Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
I grew up in Western Massachusetts, in a small town. After a number of years bouncing around from city to city, I’m now back in Western Mass. in a slightly less small town.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
These days I look at a lot of painters, Thomas Eakins and Edward Hopper being my two favorites. They both had an amazing ability to put so much into simple everyday happenings, which is pretty much what I’m looking for in my pictures. As far as photographers go, I’ve always been Robert Frank fan. Larry Sultan was an amazing teacher and remains a huge inspiration. Alec Soth, Jack Pierson, the list could go on.
Many of your photographs include bodies of water and bodies in water. Are you an avid swimmer?
I’ll just say that I swim. I’m no Michael Phelps. To me swimming and water are about innocence and a retreat from the world. I had been taking pictures of water for a long time before I saw Eakins’ painting Swimming, but that picture really opened my eyes to what I was trying to do. Until then I just thought it was a good idea to go swimming on hot days, (which is part of it) but the metaphor of water and swimming becomes so apparent in the simplicity and ease of the boys in Eakins’ painting.
In the introduction of your book Pattern Language, you make a distinction between reality and truth saying that reality is what happened, whereas truth is how it was captured in one’s memory. Your portraits are intimate and familiar, and it is clear that the world depicted is your truth. At the same time, your work creates an alternate nostalgia and, in some ways, a fantasy: the America you don’t know, the friends you wish you had etc. Do you consider your work documentary or fantasy, or both?
It’s definitely both. It might just be documentary to me, but at the same time it is also a fantasy. Nostalgia is, in its essence, a fantasy - the wish for the good ol’ days. It’s hard for me to divorce myself from the people and places and moments and memories that are behind all the images, which is why I think it might be a document of my life. If you don’t know the people or places, then the story is yours to create and you are free to create your own truth.
What is something people would be surprised to discover about you?
Despite what my pictures might tell you, I can’t leave the house without showering and working on a crossword puzzle.
As with all Uprise artwork, John’s original photographs are available to Uprise members for $50/month, with 100% going towards the purchase price. Collecting original contemporary art has never been easier. Not a member? Join today.
Exciting news: Uprise Art membership is now open to Boston collectors!
Uprise members are welcome to invite their interesting art-loving friends in Beantown to join the club. We are also hosting a Boston Launch Party on April 26th for Boston members and their guests. Save the date!