Gabriel J. Shuldiner is a native New Yorker. A fact he happily, proudly proclaims. This very cool and casual artist finds inspiration in numerous sources, none more so than the color black. What ensued was a lively conversation on painting, fashion, music, and life.
I feel that I’m constantly inspired by almost everything around me, whether it’s the cracks in the infrastructure or the glitches in the concrete. Science and philosophy fascinate me: dark matter, black holes, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus. On a formal level, however, I feel heavily inspired by (probably my favorite artist ever) Pierre Soulages. He’s worked in black for 60 years. Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Antoni Tapies, Japanese calligraphy and Zen Koans. Music… layers of distortion… thick heavy beats… Sonic Youth, Eric B. & Rakim, Autechre. Yohji Yamamoto and Ann Demeulemeester… My interests and inspirations are fast. The common denominator is black.
How has graffiti figured into your life and your work?
I was heavily influenced by graffiti growing up in Manhattan. I was mesmerized by it. I just loved to look at it. The subways were amazing, once. From the beginning I was confused and SHOCKED that “they” didn’t consider graffiti “art” just as “they” didn’t consider “rap” “music”. Ha! “They” are always so wrong. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved graffiti and loved early rap, because “they” said you shouldn’t. I’ve always had a thing for underground burgeoning genres in music, film, fashion, and art. There is energy, passion and truth there. In a previous incarnation in the 90’s I dabbled in tagging and slapping stickers every now and again all over Manhattan and in my private notebooks. Occasionally I would also steal discarded NYC street signs and go at them with spray paint. I never showed anyone. Around that same time I dabbled in heavily layered black and white photography; but it wasn’t until I finally got myself out of a sick and dying music industry (I had been doing A+R and marketing—as I said—in a previous incarnation) that I made the decision to devote myself exclusively to my art, partly out of need (it was a dark time, art totally saved me) but also out of passion. There was literally NOTHING else I wanted to do. It took awhile for me to even realize and accept that fact; but art has always been really and truly all I have ever wanted to do. I just thought I couldn’t. I was wrong. Today there are definitely elements of graffiti in some of my work. Somewhere the abstract minimal and conceptual converge and collide.
RAW NERVE :postapocalypticBLACK ™, modified acrylic polymer emulsion, carbon black pigment, gesso, japanese sumi ink, oil enamel, resin, plastic, raw cotton duck canvas
Tell me about your work and what materials you use?
I use a variety of materials. No material is off limits. Carbon black is definitely a recurring element, as all life and all death is shrouded in carbon. From ash to diamonds, it’s all carbon. That’s the black. Usually some form of carbon black that I modify into my own elusive hybrid composite material I’ve developed and call “postapocalypticBLACK™”. I also incorporate acrylic polymers, Japanese sumi ink, spray paint, oil enamel, graphite, and oil stick. I use traditional cotton canvas and Belgian linen, recycled cardboard, recycled polystyrene, wood, steel, and glass. I am fascinated by how different materials work together, or how they don’t, and how I make them work together.
PURSUIT OF MAGIC : postapocalyticBLACK™, modified acrylic polymer emulsion, carbon black pigment, gesso, oil enamel, high heat enamel spray paint, museum glass, artist’s wood frame, fluorescent enamel spray paint, wall.
BLACK_PROMETHEUS one of a kind absolute BLACK opaque steel nail sunglasses : postapocalypticBLACK™, modified acrylic polymer emulsion, carbon black pigment, gesso, high heat enamel spray paint, oil enamel, resin, original ray ban sunglasses, steel nails.
What is Fashion for you and who is a true designer in your opinion?
Regardless of one’s own personal style, for me, fashion is simply about the individual wearing the clothes and NOT the clothes wearing the individual. It’s a subtle statement, with profound consequences. NO ONE would admit to the latter; but it happens. It happens A LOT. I can’t describe it any better than that. You know it when you see it. I am partial to BLACK, which means I’m loving Boris Bidjan Saberi, Julius, Gareth Pugh. I love Ann [Demeulemeester] and Yohji [Yamamoto]… the list goes on. I LOVE Alexander McQueen. I LOVE Sally Lapointe. To me a well-constructed garment is like a well executed paining. It’s art. Typically, a painting hangs on a wall; a dress hangs on you. With my own wearable objects and jewelry, I like playing with and distorting this basic premise. My own personal style is a bit more utilitarian: BLACK t-shirt and army fatigues. It goes with everything. I have about 100 of each.
Gabriel J shuldiner’s rings and necklaces
Acrylic polymer emulsion, carbon black pigment, gesso, high heat enamel spray paint, resin, steel…
As a New Yorker, what makes New York unique and interesting?
Everything about this town is great. Certainly a lot has changed. It always has; but it’s still NYC, and it will always be. Everyone still wants to come here to ‘make it’. I would say the creative energy here is unique. A cultural artistic fashion Mecca. Maybe that’s changing. Maybe it’s not. Everyone has their opinion; but that’s what makes NYC so amazing. It’s always changing and the “locals” are always “complaining” about that fact. I’m born and raised in Manhattan. I’ve become a rare-breed. I feel it’s my artistic duty to stay and represent. In a way, I suppose my work is, in fact, about Manhattan. Everyone seems to wear black here. It’s an extension of that fact.
What makes you happy?
Painting. I am happy when I’m creating art. It’s really that simple.
Jose Miguel Compres