Andre Petterson | ARTIST INTERVIEW


In Conversation | Andre Petterson

Foster/White Gallery: Your work involves many steps, from more often creating a sculptural scene, then photographing it, printing the photograph, to collage and eventually painting on it. Which part of your process do you most enjoy? 

Andre Petterson: I find all the steps to making a work satisfying. Depending on what I’m working on, I really like taking photographs, especially while traveling. The time I spend either manipulating images or just correcting for sharpness or colour etc. is also something I enjoy. Painting onto a printed / mounted / piece, is the most, energizing and apprehensive part of the process. You get one shot at it most of the time. There can be waste if it doesn’t work which results in re-printing and mounting. The painting process is also the most uncontrollable part of the overall process.



F/WG: In the past few years, you’ve made work that highlights the “cast-off materials” that seem to surround us - piles of wood scraps become sculptural elements, etc. What interests you most about using those kinds of materials in your work?

AP: Again, it depends on the series. The recent series of abstract works where I used piles of wood piece and metal bits, was a way for me to loosen up a bit from previous works. It was somewhat haphazard in the making. I would cut the pieces, paint them, gather various parts and then literally throw them into piles or arrange them in grids or patterns but then partially or completely destroy what I had arranged. The process from there was similar to other works I had worked on - photographing, digital manipulation, mounting and painting. The inspiration came from my travels to Asia and other places where I would notice rubbish, neatly piled up in corners of buildings or just by the side of the road.


Andre Petterson, Gust, mixed media on panel, 36 x 96 in.


F/WG: Does life follow art/innovation or does art/innovation follow life?

AP: A bit of both. I get great inspiration from things I didn’t expect to see while traveling, so, in that case, art follows life. Sometimes, I will get an idea for a series and then chase the necessary elements to make that happen. With my animal series, I would plan to go on trips or arrange photo shoots with animals, horses, for example. Once I had a computer full of images, I would begin to follow those images around’ and end up with a body of work.

F/WG: You were born in The Netherlands, and have spoken about the Dutch masters’ use of light influencing your work. Do you feel you have an inherent connection to their work through your heritage? What role does light play in your work?

AP: I made that comment some time ago when I was working on my Dance series. I would photograph Flamenco dancers or models in a black room with little light and obscure the head, upper body and hands, so that, what you would see is a flowing skirt or dress swishing across a dark space. The feet were also highlighted. The light seemed almost ‘Rembrandt like’. The viewer must fill in the parts unknown.


Andre Petterson in his studio


F/WG: How much does where you live influence your work? What are the biggest sources of inspiration for you lately?

AP: Recently, I have begun a series on climate change. I’m photographing local houses and buildings as well as other things and placing them in the ocean or in a field of cracked dirt. The result is work that appears to have been abandoned due to circumstances beyond our control. I was flying over a desert in Namibia and noticed abandoned buildings and a skeleton of a shipwreck. I think, subconsciously, this was the beginning of my inspiration for this series but the images I’m using are mostly local. I find, ironically, a sense of quiet to most of the works. In the past, where I’ve lived has had little influence on my work.

F/WG: What rhythms and routines have you found to be comforting during this season?

AP: I’m walking more in places I haven’t explored because of this sometimes eerie time. There is a positive to this, in that, I’m seeing things I haven’t seen.



A time lapse of Petterson's process


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