Exploring the mind and habits of an artist in twenty-five questions.
by Stephanie Cassidy | September 3, 2021
At what age did you decide to become an artist?
I have loved books all my life. At age twelve, I decided to write one myself about a famous scientist: Galileo Galilei. I drew portraits and landscapes to illustrate my book. My parents supported my undertaking to the max. At age sixteen, I discovered in the public library the works of the abstract expressionists. I fell in love with these artworks, and this was the point when I started to paint. I have never really stopped creating art since then.
How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to be an artist?
A few years later, when I officially announced that I wanted to study art and would do nothing else with my life but create art, my parents asked me, Are you really, really sure? Because if yes, we will support you. If not, then maybe you should think about it again and figure it out. I said, Yes, of course.
Who are your favorite artists?
Well, there is lots of them. I love G.B. Tiepolo’s drawings as well the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and Joseph Beuys. I love the paintings of the abstract expressionists. I feel very close to Robert Rauschenberg, Antoni Tápies, and Anselm Kiefer.
Who is your favorite artist whose work is unlike your own?
There are two: Erwin Wurm and Ai Weiwei.
Art book you cannot live without?
I have tons of books, but here are three: The Drawings of G.B. Tiepolo, Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color, and The Observer Effect: On Contemporary Painting.
What is the quality you most admire in an artist?
Curiosity and perseverance. Being an artist is a long-term job. For a lifetime. So giving up is not an option.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Oh yes, lots of them. Since 1996 I’ve created at least three sketchbooks every year. I keep different sketchbooks in the apartment: one in my kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one in my studio. In this way, when I get up, I can make a sketchbook entry while having a delicious breakfast, record interesting ideas before I go to sleep, or sketch out ideas while working in the studio. Never miss a minute without sketchbooks.
What’s your favorite museum in all the world?
The Lenbachhaus in Munich, Germany. I have spent almost all of my weekends in my youth in that museum, discovering and studying modern and contemporary art. Beuys’ Hasengrab (1962) has always fascinated me.
What’s the best exhibition you have ever attended?
I am torn between the Anselm Kiefer show Dein und mein alter und das alter der Welt at Gagosian Gallery (1998) and the Dieter Roth show Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing: Editions at the MoMA (2013) Both of these excellent shows triggered something in my artistic thinking, and I am very glad that I experienced these artworks.
If you were not an artist, what would you be?
An archeologist. (Space archeology would be okay as well.) In archaeology you uncover the unknown, and the greatest discoveries all start with the question: Why?
Did you have an artistic cohort that influenced your early creative development?
No. My early creative development was strictly influenced by books and museum discoveries.
What is one thing you didn’t learn in art school that you wish you had?
How to deal with galleries and art institutions, and most importantly, how to find art collectors.
What work of art have you looked at most and why?
I guess the paintings of Anselm Kiefer. I love his artistic universe. A true place of imagination and reality. Back in February 1998, I spent almost every day at the Gagosian Gallery, looking at Kiefer’s latest artworks. His heavy, textured paintings, his liberal application of pigments combined with found organic matter, metal, and burnt clay, produced robust, haunting images with an imposing physicality that I find just absolutely stunning. In his poetic painting Remains of the Sun (Sonnenreste) (1977), I can never find light within his ruined, monumental walls. Yet it is mysteriously present. This has always perplexed me.
What is your secret visual pleasure outside of art?
Traveling. Seeing the world. Discovering new landscapes and cultures. I do take lots of pictures as well, sometimes until my mobile phones memory can’t handle it anymore.
Do you listen to music in your studio?
Yes, all the time. Years ago it was always jazz or classics. Some of my best paintings I have created with the music of Bartók, Rachmaninoff, and John Coltrane. Lately, I am listening more to poetry and audio books in my studio.
What is the last gallery you visited?
It was just recently at the Carlier Gebauer Gallery in Berlin, visiting The Youngest Day exhibition, a group show from Los Angeles curated by Matthew Hale.
Who is an underrated artist people should be looking at?
Lee Bontecou, a truly talented mixed media artist with amazing, bold, bizarre sculpture-like paintings. She is balancing the female and the masculine elements in her works outstandingly well. The work is abstract, yet pointedly specific. These are fierce visions that overwhelm the viewer and linger. I love her work. Look her up! She is also an ASLNYC alumna.
What art materials can you not live without?
Foam. Sand. Acrylic binder (Plextol D498). My dry pigments. I am mixing my own colors, and sand as well as foam pieces are major elements in my artworks.
Do you paint/sculpt/create art every day?
Yes. If not painting, then making collages or writing poetry. Never a day without art.
What is the longest time you went without creating art?
Six years without painting. In 2006 I decided to start making artistic short-movies. So for six years, I kept myself busy with writing scripts and making scene visualizations. I was learning how to film, edit, direct, and build props, etc.
Six years later I returned to painting again. Making movies can be exhausting, but maybe I will make more art movies, starting next year again. The new digital world offers amazing possibilities.
What do you do when you are feeling uninspired?
Return to my sketchbooks. Scroll through them. Sometimes, ideas I have sketched ten or even twenty years ago stand out and suddenly give me new inspirations. This always works for me. This feeling always disappears.
What are the questions that drive your work?
I have always liked tapping into the unknown. Abstraction gives me the space to do that. It allows me the exploration of the invisible. For me art is also about mistrust. It’s about questioning our senses. It’s about questioning how we get to know. Art is also an optimistic endeavor and a perfect playground for creating something new. Something “never seen” before. I like to make art that I do not understand. It shows, unrelentingly, that other worlds are possible.
What is the most important quality in an artist?
Thinking about our world. Artists are very sensitive beings. I would say that the philosophical nature of an artist is the most important quality.
What is something you haven’t yet achieved in art?
Working large scale. Creating truly large-scale paintings and making sculptures. I always wanted to do this, but the art studio and storage situation has always limited me. In the end really large-scale paintings (10 x 30 feet minimum would be my desired size) are extremely difficult to store.
What is the best thing about art in the era of social media?
Direct insight of the artist’s studio. Artist’s studio posts are brilliant. You can connect to other artists easily, as well to art lovers and to art collectors. Galleries look at Instagram posts quite often. You get all kinds of feedback from people you never heard of. And the best thing is, you always learn and discover something new. It’s a never-ending experience.
SÁNDOR BARICS was born in 1970, in Baja, Hungary. He studied at the Art Students League between 1996 and 2000 with Larry Poons, Bruce Dorfman, Charles Hinman, and Frank O’Cain. Visit his Instagram: @studio_barics