New York artist Jay Paavonpera is interested in exploring contemporary industrial dialogue; namely, he finds objects and appropriates them in a studio/gallery setting, in the process, changing their story, context and meaning. Working with a decidedly minimal aesthetic, Jay builds, redefines and paints from his Brooklyn studio, creating pieces that relate to their environment in unique ways as well as posing questions of our own relationships with our surroundings. Intrigued, POST NEW caught up with Jay for a quick chat about his work and a poke around his studio.

Jack Smylie: Found materials play a prominent role in your work. How important is the ‘finding’ process to the finished product and aesthetic?

Jay Paavonpera: I consider the finding process an integral entry point to the process of my work. In a way, the act of navigating an environment encompasses all of my ideas about space and time and our comprehension of existence in one simple gesture.

The process is often independent, but not always, and will take me in and around Brooklyn (mostly) and Manhattan — sometimes documenting, sometimes searching for materials, or sometimes just simply interacting with the environment or an object.

Ultimately, I am looking to understand and acknowledge the presence of an object in its natural state. And not necessarily to understand what the object might or could represent physically or philosophically, but more so to understand its history, to question its experience — what it knows, or what it might know — and then parlay that axiom into my work.

JS: How is Time present in your painting and sculpture? How does the ‘transitory’ nature of the object or the ‘fleeting’ nature of the moment you found it in change once it is in your possession?

JP: Time is a constant throughout the entirety of my work. I am fascinated by the way in which we record our existence; how we are measured, in a sense, by the memories we leave behind.

A lot of my work includes materials and objects that will alter and degrade over time. There is an interesting story being told, and to be told, there. They become fragments of a passage of time.

But beyond just the act of presenting a found object as a means to satisfy a philosophical concept, I always incorporate a measured gesture that exists equally to compound the theory of the work, and to create a composition that will convey a spatial, visual distortion.

JS: In your manifesto you explain how Industrial materials and processes confer fleeting moments of manufactured contemporary dialogue. Can you expand on that?

JP: Right. It is important to understand that as much as there is an attempt to portray realism in the works, ultimately their presentation is manufactured to represent realism. Certainly the very nature of their presentation as art is a detached form of the object’s prior reality. And yet, the way in which the object (artwork) has been constructed does in fact mirror, and apply, traditional industrial construction methods.

JS: There are elements of graffiti present in your work. Are you paying homage to this movement here, in a removed (gallery) context?

JP: In a way, yes.

I’m interested in the principle of mark making in all its forms. It underscores presence, existence, movement, and the physical evidence of time, action and interference.

I like the bridge that graffiti — or ‘post-graffiti’, to coin a popular term — offers between the ethos of post-WWII New York school abstract expressionism and the form in which graffiti is presented today. Artists like Kaws, Futura, Roids MSK, Conor Harrington, and Jaybo Monk, have transcended the assumed notion of what we expect from graffiti. They are incorporating the traditional tools of graffiti mark making, but the visual form and composition of the work has evolved and become intellectually abstracted. There are distinct art-historical references and influences that are hard to ignore in their works and I admire what they are achieving with their process.

In many ways, I am attempting a very similar practice with my work in my attempts to translate the use of intentional mark making (an inherent element of graffiti) as a means to convey an apparent sense of time and interference with time. Appropriations of such iconic symbols as the Statue of Liberty (as well as above-mentioned graffiti) are indicative of a New York existence. How does NY inspire you and your work on a day to day basis?

New York is a sensory cacophony of inspiration, and the perpetual pursuit of capturing the entirety of its moments in one single, simple gesture is what drives every facet of my work.

JS: Do you have a preferred medium?

JP: I’m most interested in painting — or certainly, the idea of painting.

I value the history that is carried in the physical presentation of a painting and the way in which we inherently understand and react to its two-dimensional form.

In that sense, I am trying to dismantle the assumption of what we expect of the form in which a painting can be presented. So even though my work may appear sculptural upon an initial viewing, my objective is for the viewer re-evaluate that perception, and instead experience the work in the same way they would experience a painting — acknowledging surface, material, and color, and of course, considering the entirety of its narrative.


Photos: Lindsay Maas

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