Kit Reuther | Interview & Studio Visit
KR: So these sculptures will sit on cement bases. There is a rod and magnet that will secure each piece.
AB: Are you going to leave these exposed areas of metal as is, or will you apply paint to the entire surface?
KR: Yea, I am playing with the different planes of each piece, so I’ve allowed one side to rust, etc. On the areas of exposed metal, I will apply a seal. I recently had a talk with David and he reminded me to have fun. So after our pep talk I started trying different neon colors on the undersides of the pieces, and ended up loving the “hidden” aspect of the color. It reflects a little bit onto the adjacent white surfaces, almost like light. What I realized after the fact is that what I am doing here is similar to the paintings in that there is sometimes bright color, but it’s usually hidden and peeks out from the edges.
AB: That’s interesting because I love that about some of your older paintings. I know how you see color as noise and you try to maintain a muted, neutral palette but then, occasionally you’ll totally surprise us with a neon.
KR: Yes, there is definitely a quietness to my work- that’s probably the only element that has NOT changed over the years! I’m trying to find drama without it being jarring. What I am using on this sculpture is a fluorescent orange. I have also discovered some other bright colors used for outdoor signage, and will be trying them out on some of the metal sculpture as well. Also my whites are not true whites, but usually have some sort of tint to them. If you have ever tried to pick out white paint for a room, you get a good sense of what I torment myself with on a regular basis! But I love playing with the variations and making small, subtle choices that sometimes dictate the entire look of a painting.
AB: Well and each image rewards the viewer for really looking. You don’t really notice all of these details at first, but then when you really look you begin to see the subtle marks, depth, and your hand in each decision.
KR: I always want my hand to be present in the work. I don’t ever want anything to look too technically perfect, nor am I capable of pulling that off- precision is not my strong suit! So I do go in and sort of exploit the little raised areas of the canvas instead of hiding them. I like the surface to look like I’ve traveled all over it. Of course I use brushes, but I never feel like I’m done until my hand has touched the surface, and dirtied it up a bit.
AB: These paintings feel even more minimal than your last show.
KR: Yes, definitely. I sort of spring boarded off of the Memphis show and went right into this series. It just felt like the right move. I don’t think I could have done this work before now. It’s as if the last series gave me permission (or courage) to be even more reductive.
AB: This is my favorite painting of the show.
KR: I went to the triangle a lot in this series of works, but this one felt bold, to just plant it dead center on the base of the canvas. This is an example of where the scale and content could have been jarring, but the soft black triangle sits rather quietly, don’t you think? I have been thinking a lot about the weight of the images. Much of this work has emphasis on the edges of the canvas, weighting the edges.
AB: Where did theses shapes come from?
KR: So this is where things started. This shape is a little geometric and a little organic, but I began to really form a shape here. This one was early as well, so things had started to pull to the edges. This one started to look very theatrical, so I titled it “Theater”.
AB: Like a curtain?
KR: Yea, just like a stage. Some of this work reminded me of those Sugimoto black and white images of movie theater screens- big white squares with the elaborate stage curtains in shadowy gray around the edges. For me, negative white space is not meant to be “background”, but carries its own shape and presence. So this is probably the most minimal thing I have ever done. Green has really been intriguing to me lately. It has been a color that I have really wanted to work with. Green has started to feel like a neutral to me in a weird way. I did much of this work in the spring time when things were becoming green all around.
AB: It started to feel more quiet, like a neutral?
KR: Exactly. It’s a quiet, mossy green, not a big, loud kelly green! In addition to sound, I pay tremendous attention to the temperature of color and I tend to lean more towards a cool palette. Even when I’m working with a red, I try to find a blue red opposed to an orange red. That is, when I do work with red, which is rare.