S Y M B I O L O G Y
An Exhibition of works by Guy-Vincent & George Kozmon
Cleveland Convention Center Gallery
April 25 – Oct 11 2019
SYMBIOLOGY is hosted by a new initiative of the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, spearheaded by Dave Johnson, Director of PR and Marketing for the Center. Dave sat down with George and Guy-Vincent to have a conversation:
Dave Johnson: Have you exhibited together before, or collaborated, if so, what type of projects?
George Kozmon: Yes we have. Despite our completely different art practice and conceptual direction of our interests, over the years we’ve been bouncing ideas off one another consistently, feeding and inspiring new work and unexpected projects. This ranges from an art advocacy video project engaging in conversations with leaders in the international art community in Chicago and New York, to the most recent exhibition at Cleveland State University Galleries. Many of these endeavors have been formalized as Project Gx2 ventures.
Guy-Vincent: Our recent large-scale collaborative installation “Symbols, Glaciers and Ghosts” provided us the opportunity to further investigate themes in our respective work. We distilled our concepts down to shared themes, such as time, history, place, and experience. We then explored materials that underscored the idea of impermanence and transitions. The collaborative process provides a unique perspective, as most artists typically work alone. We’ve found that this process not only creates unexpected results, it provides a rich convergence of both shared and contrasting elements from each others work.
DJ: What type of works can we expect to see in this exhibition?
GK: SYMBIOLOGY will encompass monumental canvases, drawings on wood panels, archival pigment prints on paper, and laser-etched works on wood panels. I’ve been balancing my old-school foundation of technical facility and more traditional mediums in art-making, with exploring new technologies, creating art digitally, and experimenting with various printing substrates. Most recently, smaller works are laser etched into wood panels; these are so new I haven’t yet had a chance to assess them with the critical distance time generates.
Mountain imagery is my focus. These are specific places I’ve experienced, whether from childhood infatuation to full immersion on hiking/climbing/camping trips. The unforgiving nature of extreme landscape environments is compelling and strikingly beautiful; the experience of awe and the consequent humbleness can only be hinted at in my work…
G-V: For this exhibition I decided to revisit my interest in water images while continuing my experimentation with materials. The included works incorporate traditional materials such as paper, and canvas, along with more unusual materials like Dibond and Plexiglas. The use of Plexiglas was an important choice, as it was selected to convey the translucent nature of water.
Another key component to this exhibition was, the curatorial placement and integration of the artwork. As a former gallery owner and curator, I recognize the importance of the placement of works and the dialog between them. I believe that it’s equally important and relevant as the artworks themselves.
GK: So true. Our shared experiences as gallerists have prompted us to see individual works as parts of a whole, where one object can inform the one next to it.
DJ: What is the meaning of your exhibition’s title “Symbiology”?
GK: SYMBIOLOGY relates to the idea of symbiosis; the context is usually in biology, specifically the interrelationship between species. We’ve extrapolated the essence to examine two aspects: the conceptual duality of our work in relation to one another in broad terms of creative output, and the dichotomy of earth/water, the underpinnings of landscape in the abstract sense.
G-V: Yes, at its core, SYMBIOLOGY serves as a conceptual bridge, providing us a path to both overlap ideas, and to illustrate contrast. For years, I’ve incorporated hieroglyphic-like symbols, in net-based projects, that represent languages and cultures. This exhibition removes much of the iconic symbols, and reveals a much more subtle reference to the relationship and connection between humans and the land that we inhabit.
DJ: I’d like each of you to describe your art practice with 5 words.
GK: Visceral yet organized, fanatical but balanced, adaptive…
G-V: Intuitive, poetic, human, personal, universal…
GK: Damn, I like Guy-Vincent’s answers better…!
DJ: What or who has inspired you as an artist?
G-V: For me, inspiration comes from many different sources. Some of the earliest moments came from literature; the work of Charles Baudelair, Rimbaud, Rumi, and Basho. They provided a verbal balance to the visual world, they created new connections, and opened up new worlds to explore. From the visual art perspective, the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat resonated with me, because of his use of words, symbols, and mark-making sensibilities. Other artists include; the work of Yves Klein, Marcel Duchamp, and Rene Magritte. Inspiration is all around us…I love looking at the world from different perspectives.
GK: My work has been a consistent balancing of using archetypes of architecture, the human body, or currently mountain imagery, as a mechanism to examine the core of what they represent. Each has inspired me in various ways. As have countless artists, from Michelangelo to Keifer to Joseph Kosuth. The primal human need and capacity to make our mark, to create, to explore, to understand, is perpetually amazing, whether historically or contemporaneously. One of my favorite expressions is “…if we see far, it’s because we stand on the shoulders of giants…”
DJ: Are there any new directions or materials that you’re working on?
G-V: For the past five years or so, I’ve been consumed with my last series entitled; Neo Post Factum, which shifted my focus to large-scale figurative works, that included paintings, photography, mixed media, installations, and videos. Currently, I’ve been exploring ideas about the recontextualization of existing works, process driven, informed by the site-specific nature of exhibiting works in both public and private environments.
GK: The journey that has brought me to the digital medium is ironically comical to those who know me well. Steeped in traditional foundations of drawing/painting, viscerally enjoying mark-making in a truly primal sense while enthusiastically embracing the inner Luddite, the digital realm was something to be avoided at all costs. Yet the masochistic challenge to make art without the technical skills I rely on became too compelling to resist.
So I’m all in. After all, yes we make art with our hands, but really it’s our mind, our perceptions that drive ideas. Playing with the computer has prompted new thoughts: do we mostly experience landscape through a screen? How cool is it that abstract reasoning allows us to understand that a map is an abstract representation of a place, yet looks completely different than a depiction of a place? What is the relationship between lines on a map (elevation=space) and lines of wood grain (age=time)? New mediums generate new ideas…
G-V: Like George mentioned, it’s our mind that serves as the greatest driver of the work. The ability to delve deeper into the creative process, in order to understand oneself, and in return, better able to understand one another. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
Currently working on two artist residencies, and public art initiatives with Across The Lines, Campus District Inc, and Progressive Arts Alliance.
Large mixed media commission for a private collector in Cleveland, Ohio
Mixed media portrait commissioned for a private collector in Shaker Heights, Ohio
36" x 36"
Two works selected for the CIA Alumni exhibition, March 2 - 29, 2018.
“Napoli (Return) and (Leaving)”
48” x 24” x 2” mixed media on Dibond
02.20.18 Presentation to the Cleveland Museum of Art's Print Club for "Symbols and Identity."
Individual Excellence Awards are peer recognition of creative artists for the exceptional merit of a body of their work that advances or exemplifies the discipline and the larger artistic community. These awards support artists' growth and development and recognize their work in Ohio and beyond. During this funding cycle, applications in crafts, design arts and illustration, interdisciplinary and performance art, media arts, photography, two-dimensional visual arts, and three-dimensional visual arts were accepted.