IT'S STILL NEW YORK FUCKING CITY
INTERVIEW WITH ARTIST GABRIEL J. SHULDINER
gabriel j. shuldiner was born and raised in new york city and holds a bachelor of arts from new york university and a master of fine arts from parsons the new school for design. He has also studied at the school of visual arts and the international center for photography... upon graduating from parsons, he was selected by the bronx museum of the arts 'artist in the marketplace' emerging artist program, and the elizabeth foundation for the arts studio residency program. most recently, he was nominated and selected for inclusion into the artist pension trust.
"his work is a unique exploration of 21st century painting and object-making: an ongoing experimentation with unexpected materials. gabriel j. shuldiner deems his work 'bruteminimalism™' and his custom proprietary, elusive, black variant 'postapocalypticblack™'... based upon the oldest known earth element and key "life" ingredient: (C) carbon."
Tell us a little about yourself Gabriel..
I grew up in Manhattan, New York City... and I’m still here. I love it. Despite all the changes everyone is always talking about (myself included), it’s still New York fucking City and always will be...
As an artist I sorta feel it’s my duty to stick around... continue the tradition... I don’t need to go on about the cultural artistic history of NYC... at least I hope I don’t need to... I don’t actually know too many artists who still have their studios in Manhattan... I feel very lucky to have grown up here; like a sponge I absorbed everything... so it’s in my blood. To still be able to live and work here is pretty incredible... and something I do not take for granted.
To be honest, growing up, I never imagined I’d be an artist. Yes perhaps I was always creative or artistic... but to become an actual artist... to me that was like being a rock-star... How goddamn cool would that have been... but not for me. As far as I was concerned I couldn’t sing, and wouldn’t ever want to. I could play drums but not well enough... and I couldn’t paint. Or so I thought. I just never imagined it for myself. It was all out of my league... but I was creative... and I loved music so much, I ultimately wanted to run a record label... business, I could do. So while I I pursued CEO dreams, I experimented creatively with just about everything as I got older: a short-lived skate t-shirt company inspired by Stussy, which I called “pathetic®️”... performance art via NYC’s notorious public-access TV... and as I mentioned, I played the drums... for awhile I just wanted to make super sick rap beats, then I wanted to make super minimal abstract electronic music... always experimenting. Nothing really “clicked” for me, though.. Eventually I felt I exhausted all creative outlets, including my main focus of running a record label... although, to be clear, I did successfully create the World’s only record label to NEVER release anything. EVER. It was a conceptual success: “pathetic®️ Records and Tapes”... it all goes on... and on... such a long story.. But ultimately (and obviously) I ended up pursing what had been my original childhood passion: art and I became the artist I never thought I could... Somewhere in there is a self-help “follow your dreams” book or a TED talk... It’s all become beyond my wildest dreams, actually!
YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATIONS OR INFLUENCES?
I’m heavily influenced by NYC itself.. the decayed infrastructure.. broken sidewalks, cracks, chips.. normal city deconstruction... concrete, steel, nails and screws. I found emotion in traditionally “emotionless” industrial materials... I also grew up surrounded by graffiti... I didn’t “write”... I absorbed. I literally grew up on early rap, early punk. early electronic... burgeoning musical genres with their organic rawness and energy... THAT is probably the common theme throughout... and something I try to capture in my work work: that raw energy. Hopefully that translates to the viewer... it does to me. If it doesn’t, the work is not (yet) complete.
I don’t exactly know, but “paint” found me... the sponge I had been growing up, just started squeezing out this work.. this black on Black work... it just felt right. I’ve always loved black. The same energy, feeling and response I got growing up in the city, with the music I was listening to... the work I was creating within these contained environments (my earliest work was on street signs I had stolen from the streets of nyc...) was giving me the same emotional response as the environments I was initially so inspired and energized by... and I was creating them. Definitely my “AH HA!” moment! Things finally started to make sense... so I kept at it. In secret at first... I wouldn’t show anyone my work.
MOST INTERESTING RESPONSE TO YOUR WORK SO FAR?
Probably the best thing I've ever heard was from a collector/curator who referenced my work as a ‘punk rock Soulages’.. That I’ll take... Pierre Soulages is my favorite painter of all time.
HOW DOES NYC INSPIRE YOU?
NYC continues to inspire. It’s much cleaner these days, and much more expensive, and probably a lot more boring... (Although I wouldn’t know: I’m always working in my studio... I’m pretty close to “recluse”...) but it’s still New York!
FAVOURITE WEBSITES OR SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES?
I find Instagram to be a truly incredible tool. For me, being able to follow artists whose work I love is an absolutely amazing thing. The ability to directly share my own work is almost more amazing. It’s also vital. I’ve met so many amazing people through Instagram... fellow artists, collectors, dealers, gallerists... But Instagram is still 2D... Some work photographs and reproduces really well in that arena... My work is black and minimal, but super intricate and sculptural. Light plays such a vital element in my work, I actually list it as a material... all of this is lost digitally. Social media is great in that it (hopefully) garners enough interest in my work that it results in a studio visit or show. But it’s by no means a replacement.
In fact I have a solo show coming up. But I've been taking my time, really pushing myself to make this new work as strong as possible.. I’d rather show less, but show really strong work, than show frequently, but show work I actually can’t wait to get back and destroy/rework... Believe it or not, this actually used to happen when I first started showing... People would want to buy my work, and I’d be trying to figure out ways to not sell it and get it back... work I was dying to show, suddenly I couldn’t stand... I thought I was going mad... in retrospect, this was simple growing pains... the “fight” for exposure and the “fight” for timeless work had not yet balanced out... What can I say; I was (and am) super ambitious... I also realize there was never any “fight”...
ANYTHING ELSE GABRIEL?
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