Nathan was kind enough to share a glimpse into his artistic universe and upcoming show at Copro in June. Read on and enjoy.
mm : How long have you been painting and how did you get started?
NS : I started painting in 1993. I did a project in a design class and painted every day since that. In college I was a graphic design major and eventually a painting major. I spent so much time in the studio that I had way too many hours for the course requirements. But that was the whole point, the requirements never really mattered. I was on some sort of mission from that point on; always exploring, always searching for some better way to connect to that universal flood of inspiration.
For me it's a pursuit, a chase, a lifetime exploration and development of some epic organic narrative. Through my stints at corporate and design gigs I always had a home studio setup and sectioned off a three hour block to paint a day, and as much as possible on weekends. Eventually I started building a body of work and showed it around, got some feedback and kept trying to tighten up the presentation. I started up a site around 1999 once I felt comfortable with the consistency of the work and then galleries could see what I was up to and started getting shows.
It wasn't until I made the move from Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles in 2001, from day job to freelance and worked from home that I started doing what I considered a real series of work. Once the new ideas began to arrive, around late 2001, I started on my current body of work. And the work you see now is the latest in that progression and explorations.
mm : How do you select who you collaborate with? I ask this, as you have recently completed successful collaborations with Fred Segal, Solan Fine Art, Copro and Art Basel in Miami?
NS : That's a great question. Personally, I like to work with people that think and exist outside my arena and reach tastemaker minds in fertile markets. Generally the collaborations come to me from people I trust and admire. Opportunities that allow for a new level of growth and keep me on my creative edge are supreme! Maybe not on edge, but stimulate me mentally and creatively. Collaborative efforts have some of the more surprising outcomes too. I really enjoy being in touch with visionary individuals that continue to dedicate their efforts to intelligent communication and marketing opportunities. As an artist, I am always trying to improve, and I enjoy the kind of folks that provide that and believe in it for themselves as well. I guess enriching is the word I was looking for. If it's an enriching experience all around then that's a success, and that is the name of the game in my opinion.
mm : Do you have a favorite painting or subject matter that you continually explore?
NS : Well yes, actually. The subject matter that I've been exploring these last eight years is amazingly exciting for me. Around the later part of 2001 I had some kind of epiphany. It was like a vision, like watching a book unfold with a narrator speaking in pictures. I saw a full narrative arc in three parts that allowed for a completely organic growth process, and a chance to truly allow a series to unfold naturally while examining the growth of the artist's hand and growth. It's called The Intimate Parade, and this first stage is called Discovery. I don't have all the answers to what is unfolding, but I do have a good grasp on the foundations.
The story revolves around a young male and a young female character. Each one is on a journey, discovering more of who they are what the world is around them. In this world, they don't necessarily meet up as romantic interests, it's a little different than that. I've realized lately that the male is on a journey of self-discovery, while the female is exploring her world and learning at her own incredible rate. It seems that she is the architect of all the surroundings while the male is traveling through it and seeking his own answers or directions. The study seems more like an unfolding yet unexpected sort of narrative, non linear, but moving constantly forward.
mm : Your paintings seem to communicate a challenge or goal through the eyes of a prince in a super sized castle. Do you have dreams that mirror your paintings and/or have you ever traveled to these places physically?
NS : Not really dreams, but I've had experiences where I've glimpsed a lot of things, parts of scenes and settings. I would have to say that they must be psychologically invited, since I have been concentrating on this body of work for an extended time. Whenever I need another step in the puzzle one or several appear and I dutifully sketch out as much as I can make out or remember. The images usually come at an extremely relaxed state, which can be frustrating since they appear somewhere between lying down and falling asleep. Let's call it the In Between if you will. I've gotten a lot of writing ideas for stories I'm working on by relaxing during the day, mid day. But most of the painting images appear only at night, usually late, so I have to make an effort to keep them around. Usually this involves getting up and sketching or writing down a title idea and going back to bed. If I get another idea I have to weigh out whether it's that great and usually get up and write it down anyways.
As far as travel, I have not had the experience beyond a few places here in the States. The internet has been amazing for travel though. I can visit the structures in Kiev and check out various carnival sites without ever leaving the studio. That in itself has been the greatest source for reference I've found. I've enjoyed the Los Angeles experience and experiment for the work, and I wonder how working in another place might affect the next stage of the work or the story ideas that I peck at constantly.
mm : What is the subject matter of your upcoming exhibition at Corpo Nason, “The Glass Menagerie?” And what is the theme of your show?
NS : The upcoming exhibit will concentrate on a slightly more evolved female. Since my work has a definite male and female element it was just by chance or providence that the body of work for this exhibit turned out to be mostly female. They're the works that stand out as the strongest, and the most progressed and finished!
I have quite a few pieces going at any time, so the challenge was to find a group that really worked well together. After having been involved in exhibits for a little bit I'm starting to see the solo opportunity a little differently. There are so many variables in play, so I've just relaxed and have been making the work that I believe makes the most sense together. In "The Glass Menagerie", we find ourselves viewing new and more complex scenes of the female passing through different gauntlets of understanding and progress for her evolution. She is beginning her true inner education I believe. She's realizing that the surrounding areas are being populated by her thoughts and emotions, and the inhabitants are living on their own volition.
What we see is a switch in the perspective of the work somewhat. The surroundings are more alive and independent, though tied to her growth, and are becoming interactive and even independent in their own evolutions. The girl, and consequently the boy when he appears next, are confronted with a new organic learning experience, and are growing through the lessons that their creations bring to the table.
The show title refers to the artists' reality as well as the painted subject. A "glass menagerie" is a series of obstacles or challenges in one's path that could easily be confusing, engaging and even overwhelming. Perhaps it's broad enough to be a life metaphor, but in this case it's simple enough to say that with the right focus we won't be as easily distracted from our path or intentions. At least that's one thing I hope the viewer can get out of it!
mm : How can we learn more about your upcoming show and what you have been up to?
NS : Well, I guess I'll have to get more in writing for us to learn more about the show and how it functions with the rest of the work. But I'll get something over to Gary at Copro and put things up on my site (nathanspoor.com) closer to the exhibit opening on June 6. Other than that, what I'm up to is finishing up a couple small and intricate pieces for a group show at Sloan Fine Art in NY, writing artist spotlights whenever possible and contributing articles here and there, working on new paintings and a couple fun curatorial projects, and actually polishing up the other ideas I have for the future (not for print yet: I'm getting mockup of two storybook collections together from the dozen or so worthwhile story ideas I've been working on for the past few years here).
Super thanks Nathan and best of great fortunes at your exhibition, it looks amazing. You can also see Nathan at the Planet Illogica exhibition in San Diego, July 24. Also, if you wish to see a great video and interview click here.