Inside the Studio

David Antonides

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
My main interest is in urban scenes, such as groups of people meandering in the streets, surrounded by the monumental architecture of cities like New York, London, or San Francisco. Taxi cabs are crowding the view up to the horizon. There are frenetic and still moments of pedestrians and parks. When I explore these themes of nature and urban experience, I look for opportunities to apply an expressionist eye to our common and unique views of the city.

I work very physically on a large format paper surface using dense and transparent water-based pigments. This helps me to realize the varied impressions of the light and dynamics of the city that we live, feel, and see.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
The best advice came from my great teachers at the Art Students League in New York. Among these gems was a statement from Sherry Camhy. I was working on a large composition on paper which could not be corrected in the event of a mistake. I hesitated to make bold and spontaneous marks and she advised, “It is better to be dead wrong than tentative.” This helped me later to often jump in and fail or succeed or perhaps just learn something new about the materials I work with.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I prefer to change my environment often. I find it stimulating to work with sounds from the environment whether it is music or street noise or chatter. Recently, I am listening to podcasts of interviews surrounding culture such as “Writers and Company” by Eleanor Wachtel, “Fresh Air” on NPR, or “Ideas” on CBC. In the past I have had classic movies playing in the background and have listened to diverse music playlists given to me by other artists.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
I am very glad I don’t have to make this choice. To select to be in one state of mind or have one idea would be an unimaginable prison. Variety and change are important things for me in life and in art and I unfortunately do not know of a single piece that could fulfill all of these needs. I suppose that is why most collectors form collections instead of acquiring a single piece that defines them or their aesthetic.

Who are your favorite writers?
In the past I have enjoyed Rabindranath Tagore, Haruki Murakami, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi and classic western literature such as Camus – now I find I am largely interested in autobiographies of all sorts- in print and other media. Today, we have so much to draw from and to be distracted by.