Artist Interviews 2022
By Johnny Otto
Gil, I would love to know about your upbringing and your earliest memories of being an artist wand what influenced you and made you decide to make this your life's work.
I was born in Sydney, Australia, 1959, to native French parents who decided to move my family back to the south of France when I was 4 years old. Both my parents were working artists. My mother a piano teacher, and my father a pianist and cabinetmaker. My father taught me to sculpt and carve wood at the early age of six. By age nine, I began formal drawing lessons, painting at age twelve. At fourteen I entered an intensive classical restoration workshop, with over 3 years of coursework on restoring Old Masters. This rigorous program provided training, technique, and appreciation of not just the tools, but of the social and political context that has shaped art history around the globe.
I began showing my work in galleries at age sixteen, and from there found patronage to forge a full-on pathway in the arts. I felt a pull to move to the United States and was able to make it my permanent residence in 1990. Currently I live in Texas.
Can you tell us about the materials that you use to create your 3D faces and when did you get started making them?
The technique is not overly complex. Simplicity is important so my creativity can take over. Wood. Glue. Nails. Fire. Paint. When I am creating art, it is good to have a connection to it. If it doesn't make me feel anything, how can I expect someone else to feel something? I use an organic material (wood), reshape the pieces into a variety of morphological/facial features with the wood sticks of different diameters. It is the simplicity in play that make it so attractive to me
Which artists inspire you and why?
To pinpoint an individual inspiration would not be accurate for me. While I am inspired by artists like Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, I am also influenced by architectural structures, such as those designed by Antoni Gaudi or Zaha Hadid as an example of many others. More so, my desire to create sculptural artwork comes from the three-dimensional shape and the space in which it exists within. The forms found in nature microscopic to immense scale possess an interactive experience that is conveyed by their growth pattern.
The human face is probably the most recognizable symbol on planet earth and has been featured in just about every great artist's work. What draws you to it and what do you hope to convey in your work?
I hope to bring a sense of serenity to the art and audience. I have been meditating every day since I was a young man, so I chose to represent a state of clarity within the pieces. You're not merely looking at faces, you're experiencing a state of mind. The meditation helps me live in the moment be connected to my experiences. You must be in tune with your senses (Sight, Sound, Taste, etc...) to explore the different layers of the creative mind.
You were part of the La Art Show, correct? What was that experience like and do you have other events/shows coming up?
Yes, I did the show at the LA Art Show. Being part of these shows allows me to experience other artist creations. I will be at Art Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary in Florida on March 24th and have two upcoming shows in April. On April 14 at Galerie Montmartre in Paris, and Art Market San Francisco on April 21st.
Other than visual art, is there anything else that inspires you and makes you happy to get up in the morning?
Hiking, exercise, meditation, and a lot of reading. I enjoy cycling on trails that are located a short drive from my home and studio. I love music and attend concerts or events with my friends. I also enjoy cooking. Otherwise, I like to enjoy the natural world around me and my rock sculpture gardens made with local rocks surrounding my home and studio.
How does music affect your creativity? What do you listen to?
Music is a series of patterns and patterns help us focus. Each day dictates different moods which dictate different genres.
Any living artists that you'd like to collaborate with?