August 26, 2014

Studio visit: EJ Hauser


One of the best things about spending summer in the city is having more time for leisurely studio visits with other artists. Recently I stopped by EJ Hauser's spacious studio in Sunset Park to check out her new work. Hauser was the artist-in-residence last year at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she concentrated on portable media such as drawing, digital imagery and small paintings. Back in Brooklyn, many of the images and ideas she developed during the residency are now emerging on larger canvases.

[Image: Studio snap. At left: small drawings on paper. At right: Sevencup, 2014, oil on canvas, 70 x 70 inches.]


Working in the shadow of the Gowanus Parkway, Hauser operates in a systematic sequential fashion, turning drawings into digital prints, enlarging the images into paintings, and using images of the paintings to begin new prints and repeat the process, cannibalizing earlier imagery as she goes. Her practice hinges on a robust dedication to simple drawing.

[Image above: A series of small paintings that began by gluing digital prints of her drawings onto the canvases.]

Hauser's drawings often incorporate text, but she doesn't like to rely too heavily on it in case some viewers can't appreciate its significance. Using text then would create a language barrier that she wants to avoid. "If aliens see my paintings, they won't understand what they're about," she told me, only half kidding.

On the other hand, numbers, like the figure of the seven in the painting above, will always have more universal meaning. I wasn't surprised when Hauser said that one of her favorite films is Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The 2010 documentary, shot suing 3-D technology, tells the story of a cave in southern France where the oldest painted images--some almost 32,000 years old-- were discovered.

In her squared-away studio, Hauser keeps her materials organized so she doesn't waste time rummaging for things. She likes to draw with pastels, oil sticks, markers, charcoal, ink, and sometimes crayon.



Hauser isn't a physicist and is quick to say that her knowledge of scientific theory is limited, but she's interested in the unknown and believes that mysteries are still out there waiting to be uncovered. Post-modernists may think everything has been done before, but if art is like the rest of the universe, they're wrong. What about mathematics she wonders--what would it mean if the principles of math as we know them didn't apply in other parts of the universe, upping Einstein's ante? She listens to lectures by philosopher and "psychonaut" Terence McKenna, who used psilocybin mushrooms to expand his consciousness, and she  highly recommends watching Particle Fever, a new film about the the Hadron Collider and the discovery of the "God" particle. For Hauser, everything seems possible.

UPCOMING: In late September, look for Hauser's work in Regina Rex's inaugural exhibition in its new Chinatown location with Dave Hardy. Details to come.

Related posts:
The donut muffin: Uniting two worlds(2013)
Making our post-neo-faux-expressionist-pre-figurative-proto-conceptual heads spin (2010)
Abstract painters swim upriver this weekend (2009)

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