When we got David Gordon on the phone to discuss his paintings and this week's cover piece, “Blue and Yellow #2,” he wasn't in the middle of busting his masterpiece. Nor was he hobnobbing with fellow artists at some hip new gallery opening. Nope, he was at, of all places, Disneyland.
“My wife really likes it a lot,” Gordon says. “It's a lot of fun. It's a good time to go there and forget any other troubles or pressures that are going on. It's a nice, one-day mental vacation.”
Comparatively, viewers might not see Gordon's art as having a ton in common with the so-called “happiest place on Earth,” but that's just on the surface. His expressionist-influenced paintings take on a light and dream-like tone in comparison with some of the blatantly serious and self-aggrandizing art that often saturates the gallery scene. The 41-year-old sees this as his own way of not conforming. By not falling into the mold that an artist has to be tortured and one Absinthe drink away from cutting his ear off.
“I think a lot of art is so over-conceptualized that the majority of us will look at it and it becomes more of a goofy painting about an idea rather then something that anyone enjoys looking at. After seeing exhibits by Yoko Ono and people like that, it's like these people are trying to be so intellectual that they're removing themselves from connecting with anyone.”
Even the title, “Blue and Yellow #2,” is a statement on this philosophy.
“Some of my titles are real poetic, but sometimes artists can be so poetic that it disengages people from the work and it becomes a distraction,” he says. “So my titles tend to let people have their own emotional reaction, and they can make their own title if they want.”
That's not to say that he doesn't take the work seriously. The Montreal-born, Colorado-raised transplant finds a way to convey intimate subject matter with what he calls “simple compositions with layers of meaning.” Like eating an artichoke, the more you peel, the better it gets. He says his biggest passion project, a collection of nearly 50 gorgeous, richly colored paintings that incorporate furniture and chairs, doesn't so much speak to a predilection for interior design but, rather, works as autobiography without being overt portraiture.
“The chair you often see in my paintings has come to represent me. What informs the space around the chair reflects what is happening in my life,” he says. “The chair is very autobiographical, but even I didn't know that that's what I was doing when I was first doing them.”
He later adds, perhaps not meaning to again reference a company that makes cartoons, “It was a natural progression. But, who knows, maybe it comes from watching too many Pixar films where everything is alive.”