In the Magazine: Sam Friedman
Sam Friedman is blowing up like a supernova. Working within a system of his own design, he’s been on a steady streak of creating images that have an astronomical impact on the eye. Colors pop and landscapes dance as his paint moves around the canvas spontaneously. He works intuitively, but there is a layer of control, an effortlessness that can only result from a balance of flow and restraint.
You will see what you want to see in these paintings because their dialect is ambiguous, but be aware that nothing is exactly as it seems. Nina Gibbes launched our interview by asking Friedman about his new exhibition at Joshua Liner Gallery, and then I dug into more of the nitty-gritty. —Kristin Farr
Kristin Farr: What kind of art do you like to look at, and what kind of art are you least attracted to?
Sam Friedman: I tend to look at people that draw and paint. The rest of what happens under the umbrella of the term “art” might intrigue me at times, but I’d rather watch a sport that I play. I make images, so that’s what I look at.
Are you obsessive about painting?
I like to be painting for the bulk of the time that I am working, and I like to be working a lot of the time that I am living, so yeah, I think I paint a lot. For me, the painting is the whole process, not the final solution. By this, I mean that I don’t have a fully realized idea thought up, and then execute the painting after the fact. The bulk of my time isn’t spent on conceptualizing an intellectual idea, it’s spent moving paint around. The next idea is almost always realized by making, not thinking. For this reason, I think I find explaining my paintings difficult. They aren’t images built in the language of words, then converted to paint, then explained later in words. They are built in the language of paint and painting from the get-go, and I am not quite bilingual enough yet to translate.
That makes sense. Do you make things besides paintings?
I love drawing and making collages. They are great activities to keep my hands busy while watching a movie with my wife, traveling, or any other time when there is a potential to feel restless.
Your process seems fairly spontaneous.
The painting that I made directly before the one I am working on usually leads to the following piece. It has been a long time since I can remember not having another painting that was ready to start by the time I was nearing the end of the piece directly in front of me. Each painting leads to the next.