Artist Barry Weiss and I chatted recently about the power of intuition, vintage vinyl, and both being Gemini.
CD: How would you describe the pieces in your collection at Suquet?
BW: I see these paintings as landscape-based contemporary abstractions, produced through the filter of my undying love for the aesthetic of the mid-19th Century.
CD: What inspires you when it comes to creating?
BW: I work intuitively – it’s a combination of paying attention to the things that attract me, understanding the strengths and limitations of my own hand on the medium, arriving as much as possible in a neutral st
ate in front of the canvas– all in the hope that my improvisation will then lead to a picture.
CD: What was your a-ha moment that cemented you as an artist?
BW: Art-making is my factory default setting; I’ve never not done it. The pivotal moment for me professionally was when I decided to try a large-scale landscape painting, in oil, on canvas, after a binge tour of museums in Europe. (I was painting murals and trompe-l’oeil projects at the time.) Much to my astonishment I landed it on the first jump– it felt authentic, natural, and I even liked how the painting looked. That feeling of surrender (with result) has been my red dragon ever since.
CD: Favourite vacation or travel destination that inspires you?
BW: I spend time in France at every opportunity. It’s where I find my purest protein, culturally at least. I love it here, too, but more for the natural world– there’s wildness here still.
CD: Favourite colour?
BW: If you’re Gemini like me, that’s hardly a fair question! As for painting, I work with a limited palette, generally architectural colours, and always warm tones over all. It’s not about limitation, but finding freedom within pre-considered controls. Beware the tyranny of structurelessness.
CD: What music are you listening to these days?
BW: Public radio mostly. Various programming on CBC but also the eclectic mix online from KCRW. Otherwise, I’m wading through a collection of vintage vinyl opera recordings, which came my way after family friends downsized.
CD: Books you are reading? Favourite author?
BW: The book I pick up the most is a survey catalogue of the works of Gustave Moreau. (Not exactly bedside reading but an honest answer…)
CD: How do you feel about the new Suquet space?
BW: I think both spaces are fantastic– I’m excited about the expansion, not to mention the commitment to an art program. It’s important to see original works in the context of an interior, with real and beautiful furnishings. ”Decorating” is easy– creating a living environment with resonance and depth much less so. Hats off to following through with the vision.