We are so excited about our next interview, with fellow Artist James G. Fischetti. James lives far from our Smoky Mountains but it wasn’t by chance or the internet that we met him. My husband, Inion’s father (Vinny) is childhood friends with James. As you all know, Vinny is a drummer and played music with James and says. “He’s one helluva bassist.”
I first heard about James when I was dating Vinny and we began sharing our childhood stories. He was among the list of what my Husby calls “Real friends.” When asked about him, Vin said: “He’s a true Artist in every sense of the word.”
When Inion and I began looking at his work, we we’re amazed by his talent.
We can’t tell you what an honor it is to have James on Two Voices….One Thought. This is a lengthy interview so we’ve put it into two parts so that you can digest everything and experience the Art by James G. Fischetti.
James is a New Yorker and still lives there today; cause let’s face it, if you want to be an Artist, what better place than New York? The melting pot and Art Mecca of the world, New York offers Artists the fusion of imagination, while embracing diverse cultures harmoniously; and this animated environment can be seen in James’ work. Here are the first few questions we asked.
- How old we’re you when you first picked up a paintbrush? When you first looked at a canvas and wanted to fill it with the images from your mind?
(JGF) I had an early start. I was very young when my mother had the rare foresight to expose me to art with specific attention paid to painting. She was a painter herself at the time so I saw some technique up close very early. She also exposed me to the old masters as well as some moderns by providing me with an enormous book collection that had pretty much everything I needed at the time. Although I was too young to comprehend what I was looking at in these books, I was fascinated. For some reason I had an immediate attraction toward images of sex and death. Rubens nudes and scenes of hell were what caught my attention the most. Although I was only 5 or 6 years old this had an effect on my direction. I didn’t become obsessed by it or anything but I learned to realize early on that it was something not to be ashamed or afraid of. So in a way I had bypassed a long phase of fear and embarrassment that turns out to be a big waste of time for many people. At the same time anything that was even remotely surreal would interest me. I would scour over every page looking for even the tiniest of images of something unfamiliar. These artists were my allies and I knew even then that I was one of them.
The work of Peter Paul Rubens ~
2. Who were some of your earlier influences?
(JGF) Because of my fortune at having this fantastic collection of books to peruse I was constantly changing my viewpoint from one style to the next. I was equally enthralled by Carravaggio:
as I was to Max Ernst:
(JGF) About the same time, still early grade school, I was interested in reading Edgar Allen Poe and other classics as well as being preoccupied with Norse mythology. I yearned to be a viking while my classmates wanted to be firemen and policemen.
(I was so moved by the Norse myths at that time that it was no big stretch for my later fascination with African traditional culture.)
(JGF) Soon after I discovered comic books. I was lucky because at that time, ‘60’s – ‘70’s, Marvel comics were very sophisticated with a dialogue that was largely responsible for fostering an extended vocabulary. More importantly those comics were drawn with realism in regards to human anatomy. This is where I learned to draw the human figure at such an early age. Unfortunately, by the 1980’s the comics made a swift decline toward dumbed-down juvenile dialogue and overly stylized drawing, where one would have no chance to learn anything other than how to copy a style created by someone else. A real shame for the kids growing up afterward. (Inion is loving this!! Comic book nerd that she is!)
The work of Jack Kirby:
God by Jack Kirby:
Picture: Jack Kirby
(JGF) As a teenager I stumbled upon some painters that I would hold in the highest regard later in life, but at that moment I arrogantly scoffed at them for their lack of technical ability in reproducing scenes and objects from the physical world. I just did not possess the necessary vocabulary that was needed to comprehend these sophisticated painters. I often now refer to something we need to develop over time that I call Visual Literacy. We need to gain visual experience in order to grasp certain things that resonate beyond the surface with a coded language. We’re not all ready to understand everything we see and hear at the moment we see and hear it until we’ve understood the vocabulary that was used by the minds that created it. It’s just the way it is and there seem to be no shortcuts. Today that idea is dwindling away because we’re living in a time where “everybody knows everything about everything”, as if we’re born with this information.
2. Tell us the initial process to start one of your pieces.
(JGF) The initial process for my work is often as simple as getting into the studio and having the energy to stand on my own two feet. My work is essentially about moving energy. I always put an emphasis on going beyond where I had been before. Chance plays a huge part in what I’m trying to achieve because I have a loving trust in nature. I am aware of the spontaneous act, so I’m always looking for natural occurrences that coincide with what my nervous system is attempting to convey at that moment. I often work on a canvas in an inverted position to create a quality of line that would be unlikely to achieve any other way. The quality of one’s line speaks volumes about one’s nature.
When I see human beings experiencing joy or when religious initiates lapse into trance states, I’m reminded of something I believe my subconscious is trying to reveal to me. I see a coded language in nature that compels me at intervals that become shorter and shorter over time. This creates a constant creative energy source. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have this type of experience to guide my life. The endless voyage.
3. What is the time frame it takes to create one of your masterpieces? And please tell us the shortest time frame to the longest.
(JGF) Thank you for your kind words but I wouldn’t consider anything that I’ve done up to this point as a masterpiece. I have been working consistently for close to 35 years without stopping for any significant amount of time and I am just now approaching a level of workmanship that I would consider to be competent.
I feel this way because I’m serious about what I’m doing and I’m trying to make a significant contribution towards the insights of my fellow man. I’m searching for a way to express something that transcends the visual and can reach a part of us that may contribute to how we experience reality.
The amount of time it takes to complete a work can vary from 10 minutes to 10 years. I have worked and overworked paintings to the point where I eventually destroyed the canvas by over saturating it with medium and other times I’ve quickly harnessed the proper energy and completed some works in minutes.
Very often I can spend several hours only looking at a painting in various stages of completion, meditating on the endless variations and possibilities that can be achieved. ________________________________________________________________________________(inm) Art has branched out into so many avenues that it’s hard to keep up with the sea of creations. Things that normally wouldn’t even be considered art are now viewed as just that….art!
We we’re at a show a few years back and heard teenage artist David Anderson say; “Grafiti is to art what comic books are to the literary world.” 4. Is that just one young artists view? Or do you believe that grafiti has a place in the art world?
Yes, I agree with that statement because I see both of these mediums, graffiti and comic books to have validity as their own entities. I don’t see graffiti as being a viable form to be shown in galleries or as a part of the history of art at this point. Perhaps after 100 years it will be looked at for its sociological significance the way some ancient Roman graffiti is studied today. They have tried many times to “legitimize” graffiti by putting it in a gallery situation and it just doesn’t ever seem to work out. In one way, it is what it is, and once you try to take it out of it’s environment it becomes something else. None of the graffiti artists that were shown in galleries in the ‘80’s ever had careers that amounted to anything significant. Nor has that experience enabled them to grow to something beyond where they started. Where are they today? I know some people may take offense to this statement but it’s better to be honest, isn’t it? It’s just about something else. Today I see many other forms that I think should be questioned in terms of being presented in a gallery situation. It’s only currently that painting that has served another purpose such as illustrating a story for a science fiction magazine or drawing that works better in a comic book format are finding their place on the walls of a gallery. These illustrative forms along with graphic design and fashion drawing are becoming more and more recognized in the gallery situation. I find this may be a mistake when these forms aren’t being transformed to reach us in a way that can reach us universally. I think it’s being done partly out of desperation because it’s become increasingly harder to orchestrate a painting with originality today. It’s a hard thing to make something that can break through and stand the test of time, especially with painting. Young artists today are focusing more on fashionable elements, things like video games and skateboards and tattoos, etc, not to say subject matter should really matter when in the hands of a good artist but this is where their inspiration comes from, from things that won’t mean a thing in days to come when the new fashionable elements are there. Look, I’m not a purist by any means. I’m not against progress but it should be just that, progress by means of moving forward, by taking from the past and present and offering something not only transforming but something that can lead us to something stronger. We are increasingly moving into an age of solitary thinking, where people are caught in a net of their own particular interests, shielding them from new ideas that could otherwise have a trans-formative effect on how they can have meaningful interactions. This can lead to a lopsided viewpoint that puts limits on progress.
We hope you enjoyed the first part interview with James G. Fischetti. We’ll be posting the other in two weeks. See you there!! (I’m sure James would luv to hear from our blogging buds, so please “Feel free to vent”)
Malcolm Greenhill said:
I really enjoyed reading this interview and in particular how important those art books were in influencing his work. Let’s make sure that we surround our children with books of all kinds so, they too, can draw on them for inspiration.
Alarna Rose Gray said:
Wow, that’s some really striking art, and you can certainly see the influences there. Lovely! I’m always fascinated by how the creative process comes together for other art forms, like music and sculpture and painting. James’ description of how long it can take to work on a piece is illuminating…creation truly is a life long commitment. Anyway, I know it’s belated but I came by to say hi after an unplanned hiatus. Hope you are both well.
Inion N. Mathair said:
Sweet Alarna, it’s always good to see you here!! We’ve been off as of late as well, finishing our book!!! James is a truly passionate Artist in every sense of the word. We are so proud that our friends have come by to take part in this interview and experience his work. Thanks Alarna!! And welcome back my dear!!! 😉 xoxo ❤
Holy artist, Batman, he’s amazing! wow. And I love his answers to your questions. Great interview, I and M! I’ve missed you guys soooooo much. xoxoxoxo
Inion N. Mathair said:
Hi Bethie: Thanks for stopping by & commenting; and yes, James is seriously talented!! We miss you too, Bethie but we’re almost done with our book and can get back to our blogging buds & sista’s like you!!! xoxoxo ❤
Outstanding work … and cheers to those with multiple artistic talents … thus I wonder about the parallels.
Inion N. Mathair said:
Hi Frank, thanks for stopping by & commenting. Yeah, James is pretty amazing!! Truly unique! It’s a hard thing to juggle multiple artistic gifts. We make sure to wear one hat at a time. lol 😉
There’s a question to ask him … how much does music influence his art creativity and how much does art influence his music creativity.
James Fischetti said:
Hi Frank, thank you for your interest in this article. To your question, Painting taught me to be an intuitive musician and improvised music taught me to be fearless when it comes to taking chances when moving that same energy in the painting studio. Visual art and music are completely intertwined for me at this point in my life. There is no difference. I utilize the same varied array of color and dynamics and approach to each new image or performance from the same uneasy balance at the edge of the precipice always daring myself to find something new on my leap of faith into the void of the unknown. For some reason, in this culture at least, it takes far more courage and patience for an audience to accept new ideas that come from music than they can accept from visuals. I think this may be because no matter how abstract an image is, the viewer can relate to color and texture as something familiar, albeit in an entirely different form, ( not including conceptual art here ) but with music most people cannot help but to cling to a preconceived idea of what they know or want music to sound like. I need music to surprise me and cause emotion based on the configurations of tonalities and the interplay of voices and timbres. This is the same for me in wanting painting to surprise with the same degree of interplay between color tones and compositional unpredictability. I think this is why the Abstract Expressionists of the 40’s and 50’s listened to composers like Stravinsky and Varese and later John Coltrane and Albert Ayler because these were sonic equivalents of what these painters were expressing. Today I rarely see those configurations taking place. Most jazz musicians seem to love modern art in any form but most artists I meet today seem to enjoy radio music focusing on lyrical content. For me, I opt to leave the words for the masters of language, the writers! You guys have honed this art form for as long as we can remember and you don’t need musical accompaniment to hold it up. The limitless possibilities of music shouldn’t be confined to the caged format that is too often seen as the standard.
sorry about the rant but It does say feel free to vent……
I hope this answered your question, I actually touch upon this subject in the second part of this interview that’s coming up because it’s always been important for my work .
Miranda Stone said:
Wow, thanks for introducing us to such a talented artist!
Inion N. Mathair said:
Hi Miranda: Our pleasure 😉 Thanks for stopping by & meeting James!! xoxo
Curt Mekemson said:
Wow, 30 years to become competent. Writers certainly get the redo business. I forget which early 20th Century artist always carried his paint and paint brush with him when he visited his friends who had bought his paintings. He would walk around doing touch-up work on the canvasses. Very good interview. BTW, I received my copy of Shift Happens and have finally been able to get it away from my wife so I can read it as well. Her comments: great humor, lots of action, and sex. How could I not read it? 🙂 -Curt
Inion N. Mathair said:
I love that Curt….taking your tools with you!! That’s a passionate Artist!! But can you imagine having a painting up and during a dinner party the artist working on it? lol 😉 James is very committed to his art but much too modest. He has such a unique vision where art is concerned. We find ourselves talking about his pieces. Art that can spawn healthy debate is doing it’s job!! Now onto Shift Happens…Yay!!! We still have ours awaiting us in our kindles and can’t wait to finish this book we’re working on so we can read it!! Thanks for stopping by Curt, as always great comment!! xo 😉
Curt Mekemson said:
Imagine what a great table conversation it would lead to, however. (grin)
Unique vision is critical to art. Sometimes it takes the public a few decades to catch up, however.
On Shift Happens, the cover is fantastic. Curt
I found this fascinating! I especially loved his quote: “The amount of time it takes to complete a work can vary from 10 minutes to 10 years. I have worked and overworked paintings to the point where I eventually destroyed the canvas by over saturating it with medium and other times I’ve quickly harnessed the proper energy and completed some works in minutes.”
I may be over-simplifying things, but I think this same sort of thing applies to so many of the arts – I know that it does for me with my writing (although I’ve never spent ten years writing anything…yet). Sometimes it is agonizing to try to express myself the way I want – and nothing I put down on paper seems quite right. And then, other times, I can barely keep up with the words spilling from my brain!
Inion N. Mathair said:
That is a brilliant point Jana!!! 😉 I believe you’re one hundred percent right!! It’s the same with music, food, anything where one puts their mind & soul into it. The balance is knowing when to let go of one and hold onto the other!! lol Thank you for the beautiful comment we know James will really appreciate it!! xoxo ❤
Carrie Rubin said:
Interesting to read about James’ art process. Gorgeous works. I can barely manage a stickman!
Inion N. Mathair said:
Ha!! You and me both, Carrie!! I agree, I find his work very edgy!! Thanks for coming by & for the comment. We know James will appreciate the feedback! 😉 xo
Great Post and informative!
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Inion N. Mathair said:
Thanks so much!! 😉