Artist of the Week: Richard Galling

Richard Galling is a painter living in Milwaukee, WI.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and received his Masters in Fine Arts at Yale University.  He currently teaches at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.


When did your interest in art begin? My interest in art began when I was pretty young.  My father was an architect for many years and my mother studied art history as well as painting.  I suppose I gravitated towards the stuff ‘cause it was around me.  My parents were always very encouraging and pushed me to pursue whatever I wanted, so I am very fortunate.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I work primarily with oil and alkyd on canvas or canvas over panel.  I have always been interested in surface and surface tension within painting.  Often I will do a lot of layering with thin coats of gesso and wet sanding.  More recently, I have been using clear gesso, keeping the canvas bare, and letting the paint soak in.  Generally what you see in the end is a combination of layered as well as one-shot painting.  Ironically, I feel as if I spend more time preparing surfaces and thinking about what I am going to paint, then I do actually painting.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I have been looking at this 17th Century still life painter Samuel Von Hoogstraten quite a bit.  Often the subject matter in his paintings would be a variety of papers and other flat objects scattered on a tabletop.  The work becomes this very early investigation into issues of flatness, as flat planes are layered over flat planes in a very shallow space.  I have also been interested in a lot of early modern abstraction, Malevich, Rodchenko, Lissitzky, and Moholy-Nagy, for a number of years now.

How has living in Milwaukee affected your art practice? Since Milwaukee is so affordable, it has really given me a lot of time to pursue my work.  It has been a luxury to work part time and spend the rest in the studio.  As a result, I feel I have been able to move things along and grow as a painter.

What are your thoughts about the art scene in Milwaukee? There are a lot of fantastic things happening here at the moment.  The Green Gallery opened up a new space on the east side of Milwaukee almost two years ago.  By showing artists from around the city, country, and world, they have brought in a larger critical dialogue to the city.  Inova has done some excellent programming.  This past year, there was a group show Spatial Cities: An Architecture of Idealism in the winter and a Jennifer Bolande retrospective in the late Spring.  Also there is a remarkable younger scene.  Small Space and nAbr Gallery are both run by students either attending MIAD or recent graduates.  They are tremendously ambitious and bring a great energy to the community.

How has your work developed within the past year? The past year I have been working a lot with series.  Many of these serial works would start by making a number of, what I considered to be, arbitrary marks or gestures.  From there I would analyze them with a series of intersecting lines.  I was interested in how a seemingly arbitrary system could generate an image.  Lately I have been interested in making many of these marks float ever so slightly off the canvas by incorporating shadows underneath.  I like the contradiction of using trompe l’oeil effects with flat marks.  This logic obviously toys with Modernist ideals.  Perhaps it literalizes a mark or gesture, presenting it as a portrait, making known its identity on the surface.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?
 I was in a number of group shows this past Fall:  CACOPHONIC at Bentley Projects, Phoenix, AZ,  Action (un)Packed: Abstraction After Action at Commonspace, Los Angeles, CA, Ah Wilderness! at Ebersmoore, Chicago, IL.  I additionally had work featured in The John Riepenhoff Experience at Pepin Moore in Los Angeles, CA, and in The Green Gallery’s booth at NADA.  As far as 2011, a solo show at The Green Gallery and perhaps some group shows.

What do you do when you’re not working on art?  I produce a lot of electronic music and DJ on occasion.  I am also sort of obsessed with food and cooking.

Favorite music? Mostly good house music.