Norbert Marszalek’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States, including the Holter Art Museum in Helena, Montana; the South Bend Regional Museum of Art in South Bend, Indiana; the Nathan D. Rosen Museum Gallery in Boca Raton, Florida; the Texas Artist Museum in Port Arthur, Texas; the International Museum of Art in El Paso, Texas; the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago; and the Bowery Gallery in New York City.
Mr. Marszalek’s work will be shown at the Rockford Art Museum (Rockford Midwestern, July 11-October 5, 2008), at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles ((Neo) Realism, a group show, July 14 – August 30, 2008), and in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s Biennal (Contemporary American Realism, September 13 – November 2, 2008).
He is a familiar voice in the MWC blog comments. We’re opening up the floor for him to discuss his own work.
The Newlyweds, 2006
Let’s get located here. You’re based in Chicago. Are you Chicago-born?
Yes, I was born in Chicago and still live and work here. It’s a great city to make art in. My studio is currently in the Contemporary Art Workshop building. The Contemporary Art Workshop was founded in 1949 by John Kearney, Leon Golub, Cosmo Campoli and Ray Fink, and is one of the oldest artist-run alternative spaces in the country.
What are your daily inspirations and motivators, fine art and otherwise?
Reading character-driven type novels is very inspirational for my work. I enjoy classic authors like Sherwood Anderson and Frank Norris and modern day writers such as Michael Chabon and Justin Cronin. I tend to view my paintings as short stories or chapters in a novel.
Also, a fellow painter, Bill Dolan, and I recently created a Web site called Neoteric Art to encourage open dialogue with painters concerning work, issues and the art world. Neoteric Art gives Bill and I the forum to write essays and reviews and also to interview other artists. It’s been great for me to contact artists whom I find interesting and ask them questions about their work and experiences.
Are there artists with whom you feel your painting is in dialogue?
I feel my work is similar to Edward Hopper in regards to the psychological makeup…dealing with the elements of confinement and isolation.
I see the ‘incidental’ as a connective thematic thread in your paintings: figures slouching, or glancing away in distraction; still lifes of household ephemera; forms fashioned from everyday grays and browns or camera-flash whites. Is that a fair claim? What draws you in to this type of subject, as opposed to things more bright-and-bouncy?
“Incidental” is a good way of defining it. I want my paintings to come across as random experiences. Experiences that most of us feel akin to but don’t give much consideration. I am curious about the quiet moments…someone caught in their thoughts or a household item left for discard. I explore the poignant in the seemingly mundane; this is where I connect with the subject matter and the act of painting. I also think that what we paint is part of us…our personality— I’m really not much of a “bright-and-bouncy” sort of individual.
How does place affect your work?
I enjoy people watching and being in a large city offers a lot to see. I’m intrigued by the way people interact with each other and inversely with the concept of “being alone in a crowd”. Chicago also has a large art community so I get to socialize with a lot of different artists. All of this filters down into my work.
Scenario: You’ve been asked to explain your interests and objectives as an artist, without saying anything. You’ve got four walls, set aside for four paintings (by anyone, living or dead, but yourself). What four paintings would you hang?
George Bellows – Cliff Dwellers
Lucian Frued – Reflections
Richard Diebenkorn – Girl with Plant
Willem de Kooning – Gotham News
What advice (from a mentor, teacher, or even someone you haven’t
met) has helped you most over time? What advice would you pass on to
I’ve always thought this quote from Robert Henri is worth sharing:
“There is no art without contemplation.”
I would also recommend reading (or rereading) Henri’s The Art Spirit. I read a few pages every day.
View more of Norbert’s work at norbertmarszalek.com