Interview with Dan Lydersen
q) What is your name and what do you do?
a)My name is Dan Lydersen and I paint.
q)When did you really get into art?
a)There was no single point when I suddenly got into art.
I was pretty enthusiastic about it from an early age. I
didn’t start painting until I was around 17 though.
Until then I’d done everything from acting and playing music to
making little installations in my room with found objects.
Painting was sort of a revelation for me and gradually
replaced most of the other mediums I’d been experimenting with.
q)How did you come to the realization that you should try your
luck at art on a more serious level?
a)It wasn’t long after I started painting that
I decided I wanted to make a career out of it.
I just wanted to spend
as much time as possible making art so the
idea of doing it for a living was very attractive.
I knew it was impractical
but I couldn’t really imagine being happy doing anything else.
q)How did you discover the particular style that you have?
a)It was a long process. My enthusiasm towards painting was
really tested when I went to college. I didn’t feel like
the art department valued painting very much.
A lot of the students and some of the professors were
a little apathetic
towards painting, like there was nothing left for
it to do and that we should all just move on.
That wore off on me a
bit and I spent a lot of time working in other genres.
Eventually I came back to painting, but my approach was much
different then it is now. I spent several years making large-scale,
multi-panel abstract paintings, mostly in black and
white. The work was ok, but I think I was still a little insecure about
the validity of painting and I was trying too hard
to make work that was academic or intellectual.
When I went back to school for my MFA I was forced to really
reconsider what I wanted out of painting.
I got over my hang-ups about painting and decided to just trust
instincts, even if that meant making work that looked back
in time as much as it looked forward. The responses from
my colleagues were overwhelmingly positive and it was
the first time in many years that I was truly excited about
q)How would you describe your style?
a)It’s sort of like the Most Wanted paintings
in Komar and Melamid’s People’s Choice series, but with
hermaphrodites and bearded children.
q)Who or what influences your art?
a)I’m attracted to the ugliness
in what’s commonly considered beautiful and vice versa.
Much of my imagery is
derived from historical paintings, but also
contemporary advertising and popular/consumer culture. These things can
seem so banal and prosaic that I think we tend to take them for granted most of the time,
though they’re really pretty
strange and fascinating if you step back and take a fresh look at them.
q)How often do you create a new piece?
a)It depends on the size. A small painting takes me two or
three weeks and large ones can take up to four months.
q)What kind of success have you had with your art?
a)Things have been going really well since
I finished graduate school a couple years ago. Responses to my work
have been great and I’ve been selling enough work to keep the whole project afloat.
All of that is great, but it doesn’t
mean much if the work isn’t intrinsically satisfying.
Luckily it has been, but you have to maintain a degree of self-
criticism so as not to slip into autopilot and start imitating yourself.
Keeping the work fresh and staying excited about
it is the real measure of success, but it’s harder to quantify than how much work you sell
or how many shows you’ve
q)What would be the ultimate goal for you and your art?
a)There are plenty of grand projects that I’d like to embark on
if I had more time and resources, but my ultimate
goal is really just to spend a lot of time making things and to stay excited about doing so.
q)What do you see as an accomplishment in the way of art?
a)Art serves so many different purposes for different people,
there’s no single way to gauge artistic
accomplishment. For me personally,
if I can sustain a regular studio practice and continue to make work that is
interesting to me, that’s accomplishment enough. As for whether or not
my work is successful in a societal or art-
historical context, that’s not for me to decide.
q)What kind of message, if any, do you try to convey through your art?
a)I don’t have an ideological agenda, but my work is definitely informed by
my own particular worldview. It’s
important to me to remain critical of human culture,
but without becoming jaded or didactic. Life on earth is beautiful
and disgusting, blissful and horrifying, and I try to implant these kinds of
experiential dualities into my work while also
maintaining a degree of level-headed satire and cultural analysis.
q)Sum up your art in one word.
q)Any additional comments?
a)Everything is different, but the same.
Things are more moderner than before. Bigger, and yet smaller. It's
football rules. San Dimas High School