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Interview with Lowell-based Oil Painter Alexander Giavis

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An Interview with Alexander Giavis: Lowell-Based Oil Painter

By Justin Henry Fallon

Alexander GiavisI recently caught up with Alexander Giavis, an up-and-coming painter from Lowell, MA. His work has been shown around the city, including the 119 Gallery and Dugan Gallery. He plans on furthering his studies and working as an art teacher next year in East Africa.

The Free George: How long have you been working in your medium/ as a painter? How did you become interested in oil painting?

Alexander Giavis: I have been painting for about three years now. It was sort of a fluke how I ended up painting, really. I thought that a BFA in art, since attending college wasn’t a question, would be a cakewalk. Common misconception. It was one professor, Stephen Mishol, who conned me into taking a painting class, his class. I haven’t stopped since.

TFG: How frequently do you work?

AG: Ha, I never really know how to respond to these questions. It has become a joke with friends, the interrogating about the amount of time spent on work. I don’t know, most days are spent in the studio. Christmas eve, Christmas, my birthday… there’s no significance in dates really, I’d rather spend the time efficiently. I try not be so selfish with my time, but on average I am at work.

TFG: What is your first memory of creating art?

AG: I grew up surrounded by my grandfather’s paintings, and being so naïve, never really actually looked at them. I drew in school when required, but never really took a rigorous art course until college. My first actual memory of making something I thought would be “art” was at 12pm the night before it was due, confident that I could complete it over a couple beers before the 8am class. When 6 o’clock rolled around, I realized I had made a big mistake.

Alexander Giavis paintingTFG: What are your work practices?  I am assuming they have changed since being a freshman…

AG: Yeah… maybe? I mean, yes, I have settled into my ways… I still work over a few beers, but immediately grew conscious of the amount of time required to achieve certain results. A good night–I work mostly nights due to the day job or other engagements – and nights just seem to be more productive – a good night starts around 6, and stretches until I need sleep. Or until I need to shower to go to work.

TFG: How would you categorize your painting style?

AG: Cheap?  Nah, damn. I mean, humor is a big part, I think, of what I do. It is not the narrative that is necessarily the defining characteristic, though. I was told that the object matter is a mere excuse I use to keep on in the studio, I don’t contest this. Lately I have been on a materiality kick, trying to explain the need to use paint at all.

TFG: What is your process or how do you go about creating new work?

AG: Titling. Paintings are born when I think of some quick quip, or witty remark… even just mildly entertaining idea. I am not very imaginative. The title serves as some sort of launching point, or as reference for the narrative of the painting. They aren’t locked in, but just a beginning of the process. I’m not too conscious of it. I spend just as much time thinking, looking at a painting as I do with a brush in my hand… it just isn’t on recall. What goes through my head then is how what is on the canvas works with the four given lines–the reality I work in.

TFG: Who are the major influences on what you do, painterly or otherwise?

AG: I look at a few artists frequently. They have an overly evident presence in everything I do. Dana Schutz, I love her paintings, even her subjects. I often find myself thinking, “damnit, I wish I thought of that!” But others include Lucian Freud, David Park, Henri Matisse–I keep a collection of books in the studio. Wireless internet has made my influence-reach much less avoidable. It definitely gets to a point where I need to unplug and do Alex painting.

TFG: What are your goals as an artist, what are you working towards?

AG: A Guggenheim.

I would want a sufficient studio space to be able to accommodate all of this. At the end of the day, what is really important? It doesn’t even come down to perspective. As a fanatic of someone producing, or being a producer, I can imagine the desires revolve around similar and genuine expectations. In a terse, cliché statement: to be happy and satisfied with what I care about.

Alexander Giavis’s works can be found at his website: http://www.alexandergiavis.com

–Justin Henry Fallon is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

 

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