Many artists do not enjoy talking about their work. In a perfect world, the work would speak for itself and no further exposition should be needed.
I rather enjoy talking about my artwork - which is probably apparent by the length of my blog posts, and the eye-rolling of my wife. One of the most fascinating aspects of showing my work - particularly any work containing hints of ambiguity - is listening to the interpretations and stories spun by the visitors. Often, it contains hints of the original vision, filtered through the eyes of someone who has seen a drastically different world than myself. And then there are the times when their perception is entirely alien to my own intentions. And that's fine too.
Mind you, I'm not claiming that talking about our work is easy. I long ago realized that thinking too literally about the work makes it stale and stiff. I try to leave room in my own mind for mystery. So, when it comes time to explain the work, there have been occasions when I don't have a clear answer. Why is there a turtle on the cloud? Because some part of my brain told me that was exactly the right image in the right place. Going back in one's own mind later and deciphering the symbolism is a compelling process.
For a real challenge, I recommend explaining the work in a foreign language. Preferably one which you are not entirely fluent in. It's amazing how concise and focused the explanations get when an expansive and vague vocabulary isn't there to fall back on.
Such is often the case when I show my work here in Japan. A few weeks ago, Acros Fukuoka kindly granted me a space for an exhibition. By happy coincidence, an editor from the Asahi Shimbun, Mr. Shunsuke Nakamura wandered into the gallery. He returned the following day to interview me in Japanese and snap a few pictures. It was intriguing to translate my comments back into English and discover what I had said. Happily, nothing too ridiculous.
I hope you'll enjoy our attempt at translation:
Asahi Shimbun –Saturday February 15, 2014 A Profoundly Mysterious World of Cut Paper Art – American artist holds a washi and chiyogami cut paper art exhibition at ACROSS FUKUOKA A collection of cut paper art created by Patrick Gannon, a 42 year-old American national residing in Fukuoka, is now being exhibited in the Message Foyer gallery on the 2nd floor of ACROSS FUKUOKA in Tenjin, Fukuoka. Over 20 unique cut paper art pieces radiate a mystical feel in the venue. Gannon was born in New Jersey in the US. The literature major came to Japan for the first time right after college graduation. He later returned to the US to study Art in graduate school, where he first encountered cut paper art. After coming back to Japan and spending 5 years in Tokyo, about 3 years ago he relocated to Fukuoka, hoping to lead a more relaxing life at a slower pace. Now he spends his time creating cut paper art and occasionally teaching. His art is mystic and mysterious. It takes you deep inside forests and to the bottom of dark Oceans, where one can see floating spirit-like creatures or colorful dragons, whales and horses, all intricately and precisely cut. Gannon has a strong interest in myths and fables but his art is nothing like what you imagine you would see in books concerning such subjects. They are creatures shaped by his thoughts and mind. He uses mostly Japanese handmade (washi) and patterned papers (chiyogami) for his art. “They are so beautiful that I fell in love with them” said Gannon. His cut paper art is sometimes glued atop pieces of natural wood. “I hope that, when people see my artwork, they can each see something different and unique which expands their imagination” said Gannon looking at his collection of MAKAFUJIGI 「摩訶不思議」 cut paper art. (by editor, Shunsuke Nakamura)
And here's the original Japanese:
朝日新聞 2014年2月15日（土） 摩訶不思議な世界 切り絵に - 米国人作家、和紙・千代紙で作品展 アクロス福岡 米国出身で福岡市在住の切り絵作家パトリック・ギャノンさん（42）の展覧会が、福岡・天神のアクロス福岡2階メッセージホワイエで開かれている。個性的な切り絵作品20点余りが、神秘的な雰囲気を醸し出している。 ギャノンさんは米国ニュージャージー州生まれ。大学で文学を学び、卒業後に初来日。いったん帰国し大学院でアートの勉強をしていたとき、切り絵に出会った。数年前再び来日し、東京で5年間過ごしたあと、3年前にもう少しリラックスしたいと福岡に移住。英会話を教えながら切り絵製作に取り組んでいる。 その作品は神秘的だ。深い森や海底を思わせる光景に、カラフルな竜や鯨、馬のような動物が繊細なテクニックで切り取られ、精霊のような、なんとも奇妙な生物が漂っている。神話や寓話に強い関心があり、その反映のようだが決して写実的なものではなく、頭の中からわき出てきた造形なのだという。 使うのは、ほとんどが和紙と千代紙で、「本当に美しい。和紙にフォーリン・ラブです」とギャノンさん。輪切りにした木に切り絵を施したものもある。作品群の摩訶不思議な世界に、「見る人それぞれに想像をふくらませてほしい」と話している。16日まで、入場無料。 （編集委員・中村俊介）