I’ve been interviewed in the this month’s issue of “Tattoo Extreme”!!! I have a four page spread of words and images. I don’t know if this magazine is available in the States, but it is international in its scope – they cover tattoo art and tattoo events all over the world. I must say I feel humbled to be side by side with all of that great tattoo art! I have a feeling that my good friend Jake at SLC Ink (I did an exhibit there in 2010 – see review) must have introduced them to my work when they covered the Salt Lake City Tatto Convention (I’m not sure why, but SLC has a very active tattoo scene – there are more tattoo shops there per capita than anywhere else I have ever been).
Here is the interview as I wrote it out. The published version is slightly condensed with some changes in the illustrations.
1. Could you please introduce yourself? Ex. about your art learning background
I go by, “David Normal.” I was born March 19th, 1970 in San Francisco, California, USA. My father, Mark Naftalin, was a Blues musician (Keyboardist, Paul Butterfield Blues Band). I was fortunate to be exposed to an artistic atmosphere that derived from the American ‘hippie’ counterculture and also from the African-American Blues tradition. As a child I met some of the all time great Blues artists and the exposure to Blues music taught me to value “soul”, i.e.; the passionate and sincere expression of one’s innermost feelings, as one of the important characteristics of art.
“Smell the Secret Furniture”, Collage with “cut-up” style poetry, 1989. This piece was influenced by punk collage art popular in photocopied “zines” in the 1980s Punk scene, and was part of a zine I self-published at that time.
As a teenager I was into Punk Rock, and it too showed me the value of “soul” as well as the importance of doing things for yourself. So, I never went to art school because I didn’t think that it could teach me much about self-expression, and I also believed that I could teach myself any art skills I needed. I have traveled extensively and have sought after those people and places that I think have a lot of “soul” and learned from direct experience.
2. Could you tell us why you did the works? custom order? concept of image? any reference before you did?
“The Human Tree” Oil on Panel, 2010. Sketches for this piece were begun around 1990, yet because I quit painting for 14 years it was not made into a painting until 2010. The image has a personal meaning of resuming painting, and so the Roman soldiers are actually “unsawing” the tree.
The work comes from within my soul, from within my heart. I think my heart must be a bit like an oyster that makes a pearl. My heart is covered in a thick shell to protect it from being broken, but somehow a tiny drop of poison was trapped in there like a grain of sand. It’s the sort of poison that infected the apple on the Tree of Knowledge and this poison makes me empathize with, to get an impression or a feeling of, all human suffering.
“Traffic Jam”, Oil on Panel, 2010
This empathy forms around the grain of poison as a way of softening the pain the poison causes and the empathy takes the form of visions, and the visions need to be expressed – I have to express them or I will be overwhelmed by pain. The formal expression of these visions are the works of art, and they come from my heart the way a pearl comes from an oyster.
The work does not derive from any “custom orders”. It is always comes purely from within myself.
“Concept of image” means to me defining parameters of an aesthetic. I try to define an aesthetic for an entire series’s of paintings. For instance, I am working on two different series right now.
“The Pool”, Oil on Panel, 2008. This is an example of one of the paintings from the “Illuminations” series.
The first, the “Illumination series”, are oil paintings that are made on wooden panels, use only imagery from my imagination, have complex compositions, and have a strong influence from medieval art and German Expressionism. The second series, “Ultra-Shorts” are acrylic paintings on canvas. The images derive from short animated montages I have made, and the compositions are simpler.
“Menage a Trois”, Acrylic on Canvas, 2011. This piece is an example of one of the paintings from the “Ultra-Short” series.
These “Ultra-Short” paintings are based on collage and have a strong Pop art sensibility. So, for both of these series I have defined specific formal aesthetic rules, and the works are created within those boundaries.
3. Could you describe your life attitude? or some life expreience to share with?
I think that philosophy involves constant exploration and experimentation. I don’t think there is any ultimate good or evil, and so one must constantly try out different ways of living and thinking. Art is one way of documenting such philosophical experiments.
I believe that through honesty we become more aware and with greater awareness we become more compassionate. I believe that, conversely, if we are dishonest then our awareness becomes diminished and as our awareness dims so too does our capacity to understand the feelings of others, and in that way we become cruel. Real compassion is based on how one deals with life and the sensations of life directly around and within you, and not upon believing in a religious or political doctrine.
“Chemical Imbalance”, Oil on Panel, 2010
Ideology is often a kind of self-deception that allows people to believe that they are being good because they follow rules, whereas genuine kindness might require them to break all the rules they know.
The above is not my only “life attitude”, but it is one insight that I have had and continue to be aware of.
5. Any other hobby or activity you joined? or what you used to do in your lisure time?
I’ve been interested in altered states of consciousness all of my life. It has been my hobby to document rituals of trance and spirit-possession. I traveled extensively through South East Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia) in search of magic rituals. I have videotaped may of these ceremonies and plan to make a documentary called on the subject, “Loose Spirits”.
Lately I have taken in interest in Japanese Rope Bondage. I like it aesthetically and have been producing life drawings based on scenes of “Kinbaku” (Japanese Rope Art). I recently traveled to Japan and had the opportunity to make drawings based on the work of the master rope artist,
Arisue Go. I am also fascinated with the psychology of BDSM, and believe that it revolves around ecstatic states of trance, and so my interest is a further exploration of altered states of mind.
6. Any plan for you in the short term of the future?
Illuminations Installation at Sancho Gallery in Los Angeles
I have plans for my traveling exhibition of “Illuminations”. The Illuminations are my own unique method of presenting my work as free hanging, self illuminating light boxes that show my paintings and are similar to stained glass windows in appearance. The Illuminations were displayed last Fall in Los Angeles. They will be shown in Berlin (EAGL Gallery) at the end of April and in Tokyo (Super Deluxe Club) in Oct. 2012.