HAWK ALFREDSON'S VISIONARY ART
Hawk Alfredson has done the artwork for my book of micro fictions, The Day Dali Died, and the cover to Robert Devereaux's Fungicide, experimental music inspired by City of Saints & Madmen. (I'd love to post some of his work here, but his site seems protected against my using URLS to the jpegs to reproduce them here.)
In fact, if you look closely at some of the paintings here, you will notice definite, unmistakable signs of Ambergris…)
Hawk's web site has a wonderful display of his mysterious, subtle yet bold artwork. I consider Hawk to be one of the most talented artists I've had the pleasure of encountering, and marvel at the way in which he allows his subconscious free rein, while demonstrating great technical precision.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to meet him and Mia Hanson (a talented photographer whose work graces the dust jacket of my Secret Life collection), his partner, in New York City last year, and I've just now gotten around to doing a short interview with him. He prefaced the interview with a quote: "An artist cannot speak about his art [any] more than a plant can discuss horticulture." – Jean Cocteau.
What excites you about painting?
To get totally lost in the painting and yet find myself completely home in there. To watch myself grow, mature, and evolve as an artist. Getting more in control of the different technical aspects but at the same time leaving enough room for the spirits, the aliens, the angels, nature, and God to do their part of it.
What do you most love about the process?
The detail work. The glazing process. Thin transparent layers of paint. Sometimes I do up to 10 to 15 intermittent layers of glaze in a painting. I enjoy watching the painting organically grow whichever way it decides to go. To paint with my fingers.
What's the hardest part of painting for you?
At the moment I don't have an adequate sized studio but rather a tiny room here in the Chelsea Hotel and it's like trying to paint in a huge mural in a matchbox, with the matches still left inside. Visitors, especially artists, who drop by wonder: "So this is where you live, but where do you paint?!" Other than that, the first two to three layers of paint, before the image is starting to reveal itself, I find quite boring…The hardest part about painting is not becoming Henry Darger.
If you were not a painter, what would you like to be?
A musician. The aural landscapes close to my third ear sound like Brian Eno meets Hawkwind meets Gong meets Brannon Hungness on a spiral planet in another dimension underneath your hat.
What's the best advice you've ever gotten from someone about painting, and who gave it to you?
I'm still waiting for that advice, I think. The only thing that comes to mind is something I read in a Salvador Dali book where the last and most important advice or demand he gives for becoming a master painter was that your hand must be guided by an angel.
What role does your subconscious play in your art?
I think most creative people dive into the subconscious ocean and dig up Heaven and Hell and everything inbetween, whether they are aware of it or not. Sometimes the spirits transfer their visions onto the insides of my eyelids. From there, I convey their imagery as best I can. I also met a couple of psychic women over the years who said that I'm channeling spirits.
Anything else to add?
This is something a friend and I came up with one night, a late night, in a bar…
"What do I like about painting?"
Holding the brush between thumb and fingers.
Taking a piss between sessions.
Not knowing what the fuck to do next.
Riding the subway to the art store.
Staring at the people on the subway.
Unscrewing the cap of the paint tube.
Squeezing the paint tube.
Spilling the paint on the floor accidentally.
Getting drunk and not remembering what I painted.
Painting the same painting over and over.
Worrying about whether anyone will buy this painting.
Worrying if the painting sucks.
Worrying about whether or not I'm a psychotic idiot.
Worrying about whether other people will think the painting sucks and is a cheap sell out.
Worrying about what I can sell to buy food.
Thinking I am the best painter ever.
Wondering about whether the Mother Ship will come back before I finish.
Wondering if I will ever finish.
Wondering where the paintings will end up if I disappear tomorrow.
If anyone has a question for Hawk, please do post it in the comments field and I'm sure he'll respond.