Richard T Scott A post-contemporary figurative painter between New York and Paris

February 2, 2018 by Laura Gomez


Working between New York and Paris, Richard T Scott is known for his post-contemporary figurative paintings and his writing on aesthetic theory. His work has exhibited at Le Grand Palais in Paris, Palazzo Cini in Venice, Museu Europeu d’Art Modern in Barcelona, the Museum of New Art in Detroit, and is part of collections worldwide such as the The New Britain Museum of American Art, the Georgia Museum of Art, MEAM, MACS, former British Arts Minister Alan Howarth of Newport, Prince Morad El Hattab, and Robert C. Kennedy PhD. Richard designs coins and medals for the United States Mint under the Artistic Infusion Program. Scott was honored as an Associate Living Master by the Art Renewal Center.

“Whether it is in his portraits, his compositions, or either still in his interiors, Richard T. Scott always tries to produce, on his spectators, a certain effect of strangeness, or at least, something like a feeling of longing. That’s why, maybe, his compositions are populated for the greater part with mirrors in which appear, not simply beings just like those who face us – but of real spectres having the function to destabilize our glance while giving the fourth dimension for us to see”
– by Frédéric Charles Baitinger, Critic, Artension

Artist Interview:

Name: Richard, T. Scott
Age: 37
Birthday: Oct 7, 1980

College: New York Academy of Art, University of Georgia

Books: Between the World and Me, American War

Quote: “I fell as if I’m always on the verge of waking up” – Fernando Pessoa

For how long have been in art? How did you start? I’ve been an artist since the age of three. I don’t remember it, but my parents tell me I began painting geometric shapes and abstractions.

How would you define yourself as an artist? I don’t define myself as an artist. I am merely a human being trying to make sense of the world. My work is byproduct of that process.

Would you tell us some things about yourself? Please include a few little known facts about you as well. My greatest fear is to be alone, yet that is how I have been most of my life. Life is both my greatest fear, and my greatest joy. And understanding that the two can exist simultaneously, and both be equally true, is the first step toward peace with oneself. Don’t ask me what the second step is: I haven’t gotten there yet.

Where do you find inspiration? I don’t find inspiration. Inspiration finds me… Sometimes it comes in a whisper of wind outside my window as I fall asleep. Sometimes it is a train hurtling toward me to wake me from my slumber. I do not know where it comes from, but I merely hope to catch it when it when it arrives.

What are you trying to communicate with your art? Through my work, I am trying to communicate the universal human experience, to reveal new perspectives, to build a bridge of empathy between all people. I realize this is an impossible task, and I don’t truly believe that I am up to it, but impossibilities are the only things worth truly pursuing.

What art do you most identify with? I most indentify with art that reveals the truth of the human soul. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Goya.

Why do you do … what you do? Art is an alchemical process. We are not simply transmuting earth and oil into something beautiful, we are transforming ourselves. The only way to truly improve the world around us is to improve ourselves. My work is the manifestation of this process.

What does “being creative” mean to you? Creativity is simply living life deeply, truly, and with courage.

Any shows, galleries, or publications where our readers can find your work? I exhibit my work with Galerie L’Oeil du Prince in Paris, France and Spalding Nix Fine Art in Atlanta, GA. In addition, my work is in the permanent collections of the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Georgia Museum of Art, and MEAM in Barcelona.

How do you cultivate a collector base? I cultivate a collector base by being true to my passion and forming authentic relationships with people who appreciate what I’m doing. Most of my collectors are friends. Sometimes they began as collectors and became friends and sometimes the other way around.

Which is your most cherished piece? My most cherished piece is the large painting I just finished entitled “New Amsterdam”. It is really the culmination of all my life’s work and I think, the beginning of my mature work.

If you had an exclusive collective exhibition with other artists work, who would you choose? If I had an exclusive exhibition with another artist, it would be my dear, brilliant friend Adam Miller.

What do you see as the strengths of your pieces, visually or conceptually? There is no aspect of my work that I pay less attention to than any other. I may fail, but I strive for the masterpiece. This requires that every aspect must work together seamlessly toward a singular expression.

What role does the artist have in society? I think the artist’s role in society is to provide perspective on what is missing at the time. Today we are missing truth, empathy, and healing. Tomorrow, it may be hope and courage. We will see.

What is my most treasured memory? As a child, my mother and I once went for a long walk on beach at sunrise. There wasn’t another person around. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling connected, whole, awake. She has recently died of cancer, and I’ve realized that the most important thing in life is not money, or fame, or success, or even great art. The most important thing in life is the relationships you have with people you care about. Everything else is just the break of waves, washing in and receeding.

What for you is the most enjoyable part of your art? The most enjoyable part of art for me is seeing someone truly moved by what I have done. Seeing that my work has given them something meaningful.

What famous artists have influenced you, and how? Without a doubt, my greatest influence would be Odd Nerdrum. I studied with him for three years and his mentorship transformed me. Since then, I’ve gone in a different direction, and we’ve had some major political differences, but when it comes to painting, his teaching is still at the heart of my work.

What other interests do you have outside of art? Outside of art, I’m deeply interested in life. I”m particularly passionate about cooking and sustainable agriculture. I love literature and music. I’m a true epicurean. I’d like to build the world that I think should exist.

Some short questions now:

Colours: Like people, colors each have their own beautiful personality. It’s not about any particular color, but the relationships between them.

Textures: is the same. Without smooth, impasto is nothing. Everything must have its contrast and the relationships between the range of texture is a language in itself.

Define your art: I cannot define my art. It must define itself. And if it cannot, then it has failed in its purpose.

Define your style: My style is an ever changing blend between realistic accuracy and emotive expression, between illusion and the relationship of abstract shapes and textures. I paint figures because the body and the face can express a great diversity and nuance of emotions and ideas.

Prizes: I’ve won enough prizes, but I don’t care to talk about them. I don’t believe people should judge art based upon outside context such as prizes, press, or celebrity endorsement. You should experience the work alone, for itself, and feel it. That is where the truth is. Everything else is a distraction.

Art Fairs: I’ve shown at Art Paris, Chic Art Fair, and a few others. Mostly it’s been a waste of time.

Museums: My favorite museums are the Louvres in Paris, the Metropolitan and the Frick in New York.

Cities: I love Paris, and lived there for three years.

Artists: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, Van Gogh, Vincent Desiderio, Steven Assael, Odd Nerdrum, Brad Kunkle, Adam Miller, Margaret Bowland, Jenny Saville, Camille Claudel, Andrew Wyeth.

You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art perfomances today? One of my favorite activities is to visit artists’ studios. It’s a very different experience than seeing work in galleries, though I go to openings as well. Because I live not far from New York City, I have the great fortune to experience a tremendous amount of art and culture there.

How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I cannot imagine a life without creating art. I would find whatever way I could – if I had to burn my furniture to make charcoal and draw on my walls. I would write, or compose music, or make sculptures from found materials. But if that wasn’t even possible, and it were somehow true, I can’t honestly say what would happen. I would become deeply depressed.

What do you think about the art community and market? Well, what I think of the art community depends on which community you’re talking about. My community is wonderful, inspiring, and supportive. Though I know a lot of other communities are more competitive. Some are superficial. Some are elitist. The market is equally diverse. If you mean the blue-chip art market, I no longer think much about it anymore. It’s as separate from my reality as the Sopranos.

Should art be funded? Why? The question of art funding is complicated. Should it be funded by the government? By private individuals? By corporations? All of these have their own agenda in funding the arts. Historically, every patron of the arts has funded the work that supporter their own political agenda. The Medici’s were trying to gain power and resist Rome. The CIA funded Abstract Expressionism as propaganda to fight communism. So… yes, art requires money to be made, but how do we do that without imposing a politcal agenda upon it? I don’t know the answer to that.

Who are the writer’s you admire the most? As far as writers, I’m really influenced by Ta Nehisi Coates, Malcolm Gladwell, Borges, Nabokov… to name a few.

What about architects and designers? I don’t know much about architecture and design today. Mostly I’m interested in the Classical and Baroque, though I do appreciate fine craftmanship when I see it. I like French regency furniture as well as Danish mid-century.

What else are you working on at the moment? Next projects? As far as paintings, I want it to be a surprise so I can’t say much about what I’m working on right now other than it is a new allegory of Liberty, adapted specifically for the times we live in. Otherwise, I’m working on a documentary and slowly but surely writing a memoir.

Share something you would like the world to know about you? I guess the thing I would like the world to know about me is that I am a multidimensional person like themselves. I’ve made great choices and had amazing luck, but I’ve also made huge mistakes in my life. I’ve been through incredible tragedies and some have devastated me, but eventually, I’ve overcome them. I never give up and always strive to live a life in truth and integrity. I say that because life is hard, and amazing, and painful, and wonderful. I hope to inspire people to persevere in every aspect of their own lives. Even at the most difficult times, anything is possible.

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