William Stoehr: l’artista intervistato da Emma Coccioli

William Stoehr

William Stoehr, Priscila 10, 2013, acrylic paint on canvas, 60×44 inches, courtesy of William Stoehr

Francesco Tadini blog / Milano Arte Expo – William Stoehr: artista intervistato da Emma Coccioli.

Attratto dai volti e specialmente dagli occhi, con le ambigue ed incerte espressioni, la sua intenzione è di provocare gli spettatori stimolandoli a “completare” le opere con le loro visioni personali, le loro emozioni e storie. William Stoehr scrive, a proposito della sua più recente installazione MEA CULPA – Victims, Witnesses and Survivors: “My job as an artist is to get you to create your own narrative and then to ask serious questions that need to be addressed regarding discrimination, exploitation, dignity, intolerance, indifference, redemption, forgiveness, perseverance, war and violence. How are we to respond? Well simply being affected is not enough“. Come oratore e conferenziere ha recentemente parlato al Museum for the John Hopkins University per il programma della Johns Hopkins University Brain Science Institute The Science of the Arts.


Ha ideato quattro progetti in collaborazione con la University of Colorado (Department of Psychology and Neuroscience) e con il Boulder Museum of Contemporary: sessioni pomeridiane. L’intento è quello di esplorare la creatività, l’ improvvisazione, la percezione visiva e l’ estetica.

I was impressed by the way you depict eyes, almost iridescent and with flowing lights. Which artists do you think better portrayed eyes ?

I don’t try to paint eyes that are technically perfect, but rather I try to create effective eyes that have life. I almost always use a shared gaze to engage you with the face I have painted. I give you a few naturalistic cues and then I try to cause you the viewer to create the eyes in your own mind based on your own perfect mental image of an eye. I am not sure who paints better eyes but Marlene Dumas is a favorite of mine.

Thea 3 48×36 : in it’s concept of feminine beauty and in it’s technique this work, as some other works of yours, brought to my mind Leonor Fini’s water colours. Do you know this great artist? What do you think of her beautiful water colours ?

I created Thea 3 by flowing very watered down acrylic paint over a relatively finished naturalistic base painting. Yes, I am familiar with Fini. I do like her portraits. There are a lot of similarities with Marlene Dumas’s work.

William Stoehr

William Stoehr, Loni 2, 2010, acrylic paint on canvas, 48×36 inches, courtesy of William Stoehr

No more words # : can you tell me about this painting ?

The No more words works are intended to depict a woman who is witness to some horrific event. Can you imagine the horror of seeing your daughter raped and kidnapped or your son having his arms chopped off because he reads a book ?

You often choose black women as models. What is the reason for this choice ?

I like to paint women who have ethnically distinctive features. I then tend to work with the same three or four models for several years.

Are you inspired by African art ?

African body painting inspires me. Lines on faces have become a major characteristic of my style. The body painters in the Omo, at the boarders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, decorate their bodies sometimes multiple times a day – like changing for dinner. Designs inspired by their work appear on many of my paintings. I am also interested in graffiti and while I am a lousy graffiti artist, I do incorporate graffiti – like elements in many of my portraits. Look closely and you will see what I mean.

Beyond the physical aspect of the models you choose are you interested in their character, their history, their personal stories ? How do you pick them ?

I first pick a model based on her physical appearance. Typically I might see potential models in a coffee shop or in a class and I will simply ask them if they would like to model for me. Then given that I tend to work with the same models for several sessions. I will decide after the first session if I want to continue to work with them. I have to like the model as a person. My sessions are more informal than most and so there is a lot of talking and as a result I get to know the model quite well. Certainly some models have a way about them that I can transfer to the canvas. The model is a huge part of the creative process and a good model understands this. I never ask them to look a certain way. I simply ask them to relax and be themselves. From here I can frequently pick up on their emotional state.

What contemporary expressionists do you particularly admire?

Marlene Dumas, Egon Schiele, Oswaldo Guayasamin.

What do you find most intriguing in a woman ? Her movements, her culture, her character, her intelligence or the way she speaks ?

Good question. I like intelligent conversation. My favorite models have all had a certain attitude about them. Look at my paintings of Laine, Priscila and Destiny and you will see what I mean. All three have a strong character, are intelligent and have strong ethnic features. I think this comes through in the way I paint them.

Intervista di Emma CoccioliWilliam Stoehr 

per Milano Arte Expo – blog fondato da Francesco Tadini

Leggi anche le altre interviste di Emma Coccioli per il magazine.

William Stoehr / One-person exhibitions:

2013 Space Gallery, Denver CO Firehouse Art Center, Longmont CO

2011 Space Gallery, Denver CO

2010 Space Gallery Denver CO Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder CO

2008 Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Gallery Porto 34, St. Barth FWI

2007 Gallery St.Thomas, Virgin Islands Exhibitrek– The Gallery, Boulder CO

2006 Exhibitrek– The Gallery, Boulder CO

2005 Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

2004 Gallery St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Neo Art Gallery, Denver CO

web: http://www.stoehr.us/

MAE Milano Arte Expo di Melina Scalise e Francesco Tadini – milano.arte.expo@gmail.com – ringrazia Emma Coccioli per l’intervista all’artista William Stoehr e per la selezione delle immagini.

Milano Arte Expo

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