LSU MOA curator, Courtney Taylor recently spoke to Semblance: The Public/Private/Shared Self artist, Doron Langberg about his artistic process and the content of his paintings now on view at LSU Museum of Art.
CT: How do materiality and color contribute to a sense of emotional intensity, mood, and atmosphere in your paintings?
DL: More so than the imagery, I think color and materiality are what structure the emotional narrative of my paintings. The resonance of my work is from the atmosphere, the different textures, the way paint is handled, and the way the surface is touched. The paintings are about making the figures’ emotional world visible. Embedding the subjects within their environment, highlighting the intense color atmosphere, or using different modes of painting, is a way for me to excavate the interiority of the subjects.
CT: How do painting from observation and painting subjects with whom you have relationships impact your work?
DL: I’ve been painting people that are close to me whether it be lovers, friends, or family members since I started making work. My connection to them, or my experience with them, is the starting point of my paintings and the reason I make them. And working from observation is the most direct way I could find to explore these relationships. Earlier on in my practice when I was painting myself with different people, I used photography because that was the easiest tool to document certain moments. But at some point, I felt the photograph was really stifling. Working from observation is a very immediate, very responsive process. It’s much more open-ended, much more full of surprises and allowed me to improvise. In moving away from the photograph, what I didn’t anticipate was that the role of sexuality shifted in the work from being its subject to becoming the lenses through which I describe the world around me. So for me, working from observation was a way to expand what queerness encompassed.
CT: Why is it important for you to give viewers access to your relationships and experiences?
DL: What touches me when I see paintings is the connection that’s formed to another person, either the artist or the subject. A feeling as if we share something very basic and common. To me that’s a real power painting has—not necessarily to transcend differences, because we always operate from our own experiences and history—but to connect people. Because my work is coming from a queer place, this exchange is a political one. There is a very narrow, or coded, context for my experiences in terms of representation, whether it’s in the history of painting or the media. To give the viewer access to the range of my experiences, and contextualize imagery that is explicitly queer with images that are of everyday life, I feel, humanizes and complicates the perception of queerness.
Take one last look at Doron Langberg’s paintings on display at LSU Museum of Art before Semblance: The Public/Private/Shared Self closes on October 6, 2019