Artist Jeffrey Palladini was born in the Chicago area, and grew up in Southern California. He studied Art at California State University, Long Beach, where he studied a wide variety of media, eventually gravitating toward drawing and painting. It wasn’t until his studies in Florence, Italy in 1989 that he began to form a consistent creative voice.
The ubiquitous beauty of art in everyday life in Italy had a profound effect on the young artist, and he began to experiment with combining the found objects and classical figurative imagery he found everywhere around him. From that time, Palladini has considered canvas simply too passive, and has continued to employ wood almost exclusively as the ground for his paintings.
In 1991, Palladini relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives and works along with his wife and daughter. He continues to develop his unique vocabulary of dramatic imagery.
Palladini has exhibited his work around the U.S. and the world for over twenty-five years. His work is included in numerous private and corporate collections. Most recently, Palladini was honored with an SFMOMA SECA Award nomination, and was named one of San Francisco’s Top 20 Artists. He is currently represented by Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, Elisa Contemporary Art in New York, and Harris Harvey Gallery in Seattle. He is also represented in TelAviv, Israel by Mika Contemporary Art, in Paris by Galerie Envie d’Art and K+Y Contemporary Art, and internationally by Artered Gallery.
Name: Jeffrey Palladini
Birthday: February 29
College: California State University, Long Beach
How would you define yourself as an artist? Not to avoid the question, but I define myself as a hard worker, dedicated to my work and those I work with.
Why art? How did you get involved with art? I’ve been creating art all my life, so it was a natural thing to pursue. As a child, I would doodle constantly, fill sketchbooks, play with my food. Some art classes in high school helped me focus my creative energy a bit, and studying art in college, being around other dedicated, creative voices was transformative. I started showing in juried exhibitions and group shows while still in school, then later with galleries around the world.
What art do you most identify with? Sorry to sound pat, but I respond to work that is familiar but challenging – a difficult combination to attain.
What does “being creative” mean to you? Simply the realization of unique ideas made tangible.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative? To silence the critical voices, especially those from inside yourself.
What are you trying to communicate with your art? The intention is only to bring forth something visually and conceptually compelling. To touch on something that a viewer can connect with.
What do you see as the strengths of your pieces, visually or conceptually? I think my work’s strength lies in its simplicity. I provide minimal visual information, and allow the viewer to connect with the piece on their own terms.
What themes do you pursue? An enduring ongoing theme addresses the effect on us all of things outside our control. Time, gravity, history, genetics, the actions of strangers. It is a rich subject.
What inspires you to work? I know it’s cliché, but it’s a need, a compulsion. There have been a few periods where I have gone stretches without working, and it has a negative impact on me mentally and emotionally. That said, I do treat it like a job. I go to the studio, do my work, and go home. Especially when preparing for an exhibition, I make a plan, and carry it out in a businesslike manner. I’m not one of those fabled creatives who wait for inspiration to strike, then work feverishly around the clock until that inspiration is spent. I’m more methodical than that.
Colour: It changes every day. Today, I’m painting with a violet-tinged gray that I love.
Book: Ooh, that’s really hard. I’m a big reader – fiction, mostly. I always have a book I’m into. I’ll just pick one of the top twenty – how about Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver?
Movie: I love movies, and many have described my work as cinematic. But I could never pick a single favorite.
Food: A really good sandwich always gets me
Can we talk a bit about your process at the beginning of a project? How do you conceive of it? How do you build it in your mind before you start? Often, the piece I’m working on suggests the next one. The work is always better when it comes about organically like that. I chew on the idea for a while before moving forward. Recently, however, I’ve been trying to not spend too much time thinking and ruminating, and to move a bit more quickly to realization. The idea is often set down in a thumbnail sketch, and tweaked and revised for composition, then I get to work.
What Role does the artist have in society? As with writers, filmmakers, and musicians, visual artists both reflect the culture and drive it forward. Because we are not bound to the observable, to “reality”, we are free to dig up truths that are otherwise difficult to access.
Do you suffer for your art? Here’s the thing – I really object to the romantic idea of the tortured genius, the starving artist. Those of us who are lucky enough to do what we do are blessed. That said, this pursuit is what a dealer once aptly characterized as “an extreme sport.” It’s certainly challenging on many fronts – financially, emotionally, and physically – but that doesn’t make it any less worth doing, or any less rewarding.
What do you think about the art community and market? In general, I find the art community vital and exciting, and full of wonderful, dedicated people. Every local market is different, but the art market is becoming increasingly global, which I find exciting. It’s thrilling to meet a collector in New York, who first saw my work in San Francisco, stumbled onto my exhibition in TelAviv, and ended up purchasing a painting at an art fair in Brussels.
Should art be funded? Why? There are many levels to that question. Public support for arts organizations should definitely be funded, especially those that serve and provide exposure for underserved populations. Funding for the creation of artwork that is not expected or intended to sell is essential. Beyond that, I’ll leave it to others to comment.
What famous artists have influenced you, and how? To name just a few – Egon Schiele and Francis Bacon, for showing that the ugly can be beautiful. Alex Katz, for simplicity and that the figure belongs in contemporary art. Edward Hopper, for proving that there is drama and deep emotional resonance in the commonplace. Gerhard Richter, for showing that you don’t have to follow a single thread, but to dedicate yourself to excellence.
What other interests do you have outside of art? Books, as mentioned earlier. Music – there’s always music playing in the studio (and in my head.) Mountain biking, for a little physical release and an adrenaline fix.
You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art perfomances today? Yes, I had a dealer once tell me that my work fits comfortably in the art history continuum, yet pushes it forward. I love that, and am committed to continuing it. I see artworks of all stripes at galleries and museums in whatever city I’m in, and though I know art fairs have their detractors, they are great places to see a lot of work from all over the world in one place. For cinematic, digital, photo, and performance art, it’s a little more challenging, which I suspect is the thrust of your question. In San Francisco, we’re blessed to have SFMoMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which show a lot of those media.
How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I’d hate to imagine it, but I suppose I’d have to find some other creative outlet.
some short questions now…
Colours: Yes. I’m pro-color.
Textures: I employ a lot of surface brushwork in my paintings.
Describe your style: “Define yourself”… Simple, contemporary, figurative
Define your art: I’ll leave that to others
Art Fairs: Yes – I’ve shown at fairs all over the world – great exposure for artists, and wide selections for viewers
Museums: SFMoMA, The Met, Tate Modern, Musee d’Orsay
Cities: Orvieto, Venice, New York, San Francisco, Jerusalem
Travels: See above, with Southern Africa, Central America, and other parts of Europe thrown in
Artists: See above
Music: Contemporary Christian country – just kidding. TV On the Radio, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, & many more…
Cars: My old truck
Drones: no thanks (though I just had a dream this week about making paintings using drones!)
Mobile App: Pandora
Who are the artist’s you admire the most? See above
What are your next projects? I am spending time in the studio right now working on a series of paintings that break the rectangular painting plane, with three-dimensional elements. Exciting and challenging. Stay tuned…
Define Klassik Magazine for the audience? an accurate selection and reference for international art curators, art buyers and art galleries. Awesome cult of culture.