Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Local Art Seen: Checking In with Twin Ports Painter Brent Kustermann

Brent Kustermann's current show at the Duluth Art Institute is titled From the Basement. His paintings defy easy definition. He works in a variety of mediums that include found objects in addition to paints and pigment on canvas. Kustermann considers it to be the duty of an artist to bring a unique perspective to the world, a process “never fully mastered.” I became aware of his paintings through a number of exhibition in 2014.

EN: You state that the duty of the artist is to bring a unique perspective to the world one lives in. What is your "unique perspective"?

Brent Kustermann: I feel that the world of art is positioned within the individual. For me, it is highly personalized and internalized. It is a deeply subconscious endeavor relying on intuition as a guide to produce the picture. Within the realm of art the individual is increasingly demystifying their own mythology only for a deeper wonder toward creation. The evolution of thought and integration of the psyche allow for the perpetual discovery of self and creation while attempting to thwart the ego. This is what makes my art unique.

EN: What prompted you to pursue a career as an artist?

BK: Art has always been a large part of my life. I have often questioned whether or not I chose to be a painter or if it chose me. There have been attempts to put aside the notion of painting throughout my life and this has proved futile. The desire to make paintings becomes a nagging necessity and the only way to quell that desire is to give into it fully and get into the studio and work. With regard to making art a career it seemed evident that I really could not have hundreds of paintings lying around the house. In the past few years if have also taken myself and my work more serious. I have decided to focus on bigger venues to exhibit including quality galleries, art institutes, and the like.

EN: Tell us about your process of making paintings and how do you know when a piece is finshed?

BK: The process of creating paintings for me involves a fairly abstract idea that I mull over for awhile. Sometimes I will sketch and continue to let the ideas take some form that I can attack. For example, in ‘Lung/Lago’, I was thinking about the great lake we live next to and I was thinking of how we as a human race take these things for granted. That moved onto the idea of fish and how they are being fed our pollutants. That moved into the idea about the US Army dumping those mystery barrels into the lake. So, before I digress too much, I will have a bunch of semi¬abstract ideas and then start working and reworking sometimes covering a composition completely looking for the feeling and aesthetic quality that will satisfy those abstract ideas. And, I am not looking for ready made ‘pretty’ pictures. I am attempting to capture the essence of the abstract and the painting is complete when it decides to be complete.

EN: Who have been your biggest influences?

BK: My influences are many. The German Expressionist and Viennese Actionist have a heavy emotion that I truly appreciate for its raw and emotional force. The Abstract Expressionist have a heavy influence on me. The ability to really let the power of self¬expression loose is what is so seductive about that school along with a desire to obtain the sublime. And then there is Picasso’s ability to create massive movements and then just as easily leave them behind for the next.

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From the Basement will be on display at the DAI through November 6 in the galleries on the 4th floor of the Depot.

TONIGHT there will be an artist talk at 5:30 featuring the three artists currently on display -- Brent Kustermann, Adam McAuley and David Asher Everett. The talk will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

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