Studio Visit: Douglas Degges
Douglas Degges is an artist living and working in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His work can be seen in PLEAT's May 2017 exhibition as well as douglasdegges.com
Please describe you work.
With much of my recent work I am interested in the relationship between the painted image and the painted object. The image, the immaterial thing we can hold in our mind, is both separate from and part of the physical material that contains or supports it. It is this complicated relationship between the skin of a painting and its bones that I am most interested in. The works on paper you find here, in Papermate, are studies for larger works.
What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
The curious emphasis our culture places on skilled labor and time spent is a major motivator or point of consideration in my studio practice. I find painting to be a great vehicle for thinking about the value of hard work and technical skill acquisition as painting carries with it a longstanding history of works that exhibit extreme craftsmanship. In my own work, I seek out processes that allow my finished paintings to fake hard work and the slow accretion of material. I think it is surprising that so many viewers want to look at something that is difficult, even impossible, to make. I am also interested in stylistic range as a means to quietly or poetically engage in politics in the studio. My hope is that I am often able to make work that is unrecognizably my own. As a consequence, visual influences and interests are wide ranging. The more divergent the better. Right now I am looking at the figurative work of Jutta Koether and Albert Oehlen, 1980’s abstraction, and William Wegman’s postcard paintings.
Who are your artistic influence and what have you learned from them?
I look at a lot of different artists’ work but a few have consistently loomed large. The varied work of Amy Sillman and Michael Krebber have been major influences on my studio practice. I also worked as an artist assistant for Catherine Murphy and Thomas Nozkowski for a short time after finishing school. They have both greatly affected my work and taught me the importance of protecting your studio practice as so much of life transpires to keep you away from it.
How has social media affect your studio practice?
Surprisingly, it's slowed my painting practice down. I continue to make a lot of work but each work is made over more work sessions and longer periods of time. I think painting's slowness has a lot to offer the study of imagery. At a time when we have immediate access to anything, from sourcing information on the internet to our ability to capture and store images at a moment’s notice, painting can be a vehicle for slowing down and considering the speed at which images are produced and consumed. I think working within a discipline and visual language that by its very nature does not allow that high speed and short lived engagement is important. For a few years I was interested in making work that was intentionally difficult to document, hopefully encouraging interested people to seek out the paintings in person.