Expressive. Figurative. Meaningful.
See the work of February's artist of the month, Gordon Binder.
From towering cityscapes to intimate coffee-shop moments, the work of Gordon Binder captures the experience of modern life. Inspired by his architectural background, the world around him, and his studies with William Christenberry, Binder's expressionist paintings, drawings, and sketches are at once both familiar and dreamy. Binder places the gestural line at the heart of his work, and then brings his sketches to life using oil paints, conte crayons, pastels, and charcoal.
What's been your biggest inspiration when creating your work?
I align with the painters of “modern life,” observing and recording through my art some part of the visual experiences of city living. In short, what I see around me -- people on the streets, in parks and pubs, at cultural events, along with skylines and street scenes.
The urban subject matter, I expect, stems from my architectural and planning education. I’ve long been fascinated by the shapes and forms you see in the skylines of major cities -- the towers, spires, domes, bridges, and more against the sky, against the weather -- viewed from streets, from roof tops, out of windows. And by the bustle of city streets and alleyways, the people, the traffic, plazas, landscaping, signage, reflections in the windows, on and on.
"I go almost everywhere with a sketchbook in hand. I've stopped in the middle of a walk to try to get down the building lines and the colors, at dawn or sunset, say, if I’m out and about.
I choose some drawings I particularly like to develop further. Sometimes as larger drawings, sometimes as a monotype, as preludes to a painting.
Some of the paintings are based on actual places, others are imaginary or abstracted from what I see around me in what I call an expressionist style, somewhere on the spectrum between realism and total abstraction. "
In your opinion, what's the key element of a successful work of art?
Viewers need to draw something from the work. The artwork could record something - history, nature, an event, a portrait, and the like. It may evoke an emotion of some sort, or provoke and stimulate someone intellectually. Or it may explore the unknown, the subconscious, the surreal in ways that aren’t always obvious but nonetheless convey something insightful or intriguing. What is meaningful, of course, varies from artist to artist, from viewer to viewer. What’s appears successful to some may seems less so to others.
How has your style changed over the years?
I like to think I've gotten better and faster at capturing key elements, the lines, the forms, the interaction central to an image or subject. I think my color instincts have advanced and I’ve grown to use a variety of techniques, from brush to palette knife to rags and fingers, from paintings to mono-types, and still lots of drawings.
Over the years, I have learned a good bit about artists, their methods, their subjects, their influences. This has enabled me to look longer and harder at my own art and that of other artists with an eye on what works, what doesn’t, a self-critique of sorts.