American nature artist Gregory Euclide first caught our attention with his remarkable relief paintings and then further entranced us with his thoughtful answers to our interview questions. Injecting a traditional landscape aesthetic into both improbable (snow globes) and traditional (flat canvas) shapes, Euclide already has several solo exhibitions and a plethora of accolades under his belt. Expect to hear much more about this brilliant Midwestern artist – he’s poised for great things.
When did you decide to become an artist? Has there been such a moment in your life?
There was no epiphany. It was rather slow and natural. My father was an art teacher. Both my mother and father were very supportive. They would buy me supplies for holidays and they never discouraged the creative outlets.
What was your most memorable moment in nature?
They keep coming and there are too many to ever say just one. BUT I did recently take a 12,000 mile car trip out West to Seattle, Canada, San Francisco, LA and back. Along the way I had some out of body experiences. I am just happy to be anywhere where there are more natural things than man made things.
What made you chose the theme of nature in your relief-paintings and why the switch between relief and flat?
Nature is the platform where everything unfolds. It is the largest thing we know or experience firsthand. We originally came from this space, but increasingly we deny the existence/importance of this space. Nature has always been something that we feel compelled to master. This ideology is on display throughout the tradition of landscape painting. I became interested in how land is framed within the tradition of landscape painting.
When I was working flat I was creating representations of spaces. The viewer would stand at a distance and project themselves into the painting. I wanted something that went beyond that experience. I wanted something that mirrored my own experience in nature. The tension, exploration and satisfaction of the experience. I created a representational painting that became what it was representing. There is an interesting tension that exists in that space. By employing multiple representational modes, I create tension between the cultural codes traditionally used to represent landscape. For example, pools of thick, raw, liquid paint at once expose the illusion of representational systems and mimic the properties of the rivers and streams they are used to signify.
(Gregory Euclide – Scoring a chorus in the crests that could not be owned)
Do you enjoy a river by the mountains more than a field of flowers?
Honestly, I enjoy it all. But water is something that I am attracted to. I grew up near one of the Great Lakes – Lake Michigan. And now I live in Minneapolis MN "City of Lakes" which is on the Mississippi River… There is a water theme. Water brings on visible change. The seasons change its properties drastically. That space where water and land meet is pretty special to me.
What the Minnesotan scenery like?
Lakes and pine trees in the North, and prairie to the South. Farm fields and lakes everywhere. But most of all it is very green. The Midwest is a very green part of the country. There are grasses and trees covering every portion of the landscape and the smell is like nowhere else.
Is your relief art also an intention to draw alertness to the destruction of nature by human kind?
I think the destruction does a pretty good job of drawing attention to itself; I don’t really need to point an arrow at it. But people have read the torn paper as being a nod to the destruction. I don’t read them that explicitly. Torn paper is beautiful and lyrical, yet, it can also be read at trash or destruction. The simple fact of the matter is that we all fuel this destruction, from the clothes we wear to the computers we type on. It is hard to point fingers when it is you that is contributing as well. That is an interesting problem of our age. How does one escape the destructive systems set up by those in power? It is a full time job for me just to try and buy my food according to my belief system.
How do wildlife documentary and travel guides influence the way you experience or see nature?
I grew up with these things on TV. As a kid we are taught what is beautiful and what should be respected. The scenic vista is pointed out on the map as a place to pull off the road and enjoy the view. That view is something that we have constructed in our culture as being beautiful and there is a history to that belief that is political. I have yet to see a turnout off of a major highway to look up close at something. I have always wanted to create a scenic turnout that would contain a microscope positioned so people could examine, in detail, the face of a cliff.
Which artists do you admire, which inspire you?
Mostly musicians, for example Solo Andata, William Basinski, Marsen Jules, Mountains, Swod and so on…
Do you see yourself in tradition of any art movement?
I consider myself to be in the landscape tradition. At this point movements seem irrelevant to me. Everything is possible.
What else inspires you?
Peace and mindfulness.