excerpt of artist interview (LS), for the 19th edition:
"The Art of Man "
by E. Gibbons
Firehouse Publishing 2014
I am a Realist Figurative artist with an emphasis on an idealized male identity, expressing tactile sensuousness, with figures positioned in luminous atmospheric space. I render the sometimes frank but not transgressive disposition of flesh and form. I have been strongly inspired by diverse artistic influences, historic and contemporary - Jared French, Paul Cadmus, Lucian Freud, Jan Vermeer, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Sandro Botticelli, David Ligare, Michael Leonard, Claudio Bravo and Piero Della Francesca, to name a few. I live and work in North Scottsdale, Arizona, where the natural desert terrain presents deep, sweeping views into infinite space coupled with unparalleled light - which filters into my work. I have both a MFA and a BFA degree in Painting and Drawing...but also just recently retired from a successful parallel corporate career in corporate retail design. I have always maintained a concurrent art studio practice since undergraduate school.
The INTERVIEW with EricGibbons:
Eric Gibbons (EG): Why is the male figure a significant part of your portfolio?
Les Satinover (LS): I think that the male form is certainly the most challenging and expressive subject to be mastered and interpreted by an artist. As a male, I find that this provides me a form of identification with the cult of the IDEAL. I am also honestly intoxicated with the aspect of light passing over flesh and form. There are many currents of interpretations and meanings here, which I would leave to the viewer. But I would like to believe that I am following in the classical academic tradition and using this imagery as a part of the long visual lineage of depiction of the figure from Grecian times to the present. I celebrate Athleticism, Virility, Strength, Beauty and Youthfulness along with popular culture.
EG: What is it about your technique or approach that sets your work apart from other artists working with the male figure?
LS: I think that I am approaching the deployment of the realistic male figure in space with a slowly developing sense of the visually tactile, achieved through glazing and small painterly points of pigment. I am looking to approximate the dance of light, atmospheric conditions, volume, density and penetrating space - as an expression of the ephemeral world and eternal. I am looking for a high degree of realistic rendition. I first choose the figural image and then my work begins with an initial drawing phase directly on canvas in graphite, blocking in the figure and background. At this stage the goal is to achieve a highly descriptive three dimensional rendering, although not finalized. I then proceed to a fully completed greyscale painting or grisaille and follow that with many iterations of thin color films to achieve full color and luminosity. My palette tends toward vivid and bright versus somber and dark. Today I have moved from very tightly rendered small scaled works to highly immersive room sized pieces, taking months to complete. The initial drawings on the white canvas, especially on quite a large scale, are very compelling on their own. I have begun to document this process as I proceed though each stage. This may lead to new technical explorations in the future.
EG: Have you encountered any issues about having the male figure in your work?
LS: Loaded question. Speaking as a male, most certainly the general public is wary and suspicious of the artist’s intent and area of focus... for the subject matter does not conform to the last several centuries' conferring respectability on the notion of the male gaze of female subjects. Within the context of a mostly male dominated art culture, to have the same audience appreciating the naked male, puts many into a state of unease and sometimes even panic. One might be caught off guard in appreciating the male form, for after all in many, if not most cases, it is a form of idealization and objectification of ourselves!
EG: Do you see a change in the acceptance of the male figure as subject?
LS: Increasingly, you see artists tackling the male form and often in very personally distinctive ways.. But I still hear about the difficulty of serious recognition and or representation in mainstream venues. Commercial viability, if that was my singular goal, would require me to shift, at least at times, away from this highly charged subject matter. However to be clear, the modern media mix has certainly changed the way we idealize and appreciate the male form, making it more common and acceptable, and this seems to be a part of the broader social changes we are experiencing in our western societies today.
EG: Do you have a humorous experience you can share related to your work, studio, model, or client?
LS: I had a model arrive several months ago, somewhat loaded, several hours late and I thought I might be in trouble when he commented on his prison experience…but believe it or not, we completed the photo shoot, I got reasonably good material to work from and he was off!
EG: Where do you hope to see your work going in 10 or 20 years? OR Are their subjects you are considering for future paintings you can share?
LS: My fervent hope is that my pursuit of the male form will be acknowledged and appreciated without prurient judgments, negative projections and shame. I would like to see a time when we recognize - as humans - the mystery and seductive beauty of the male human form and simply revel in its complicated and awe inspiring majesty. I certainly have a belief in myself or at least in the work that I am doing now and secretly harbor a wish to see some of this output in major public spaces, bestowing a respectability on my content, my style and my purpose.
EG: Have you always worked in the style you do now?
LS: My style has evolved, although if I look back at my work even from my student days, I think I see a trace of my current vision, the incorporation of the figure in space. There has always been a tendency towards realistic depiction of the human form, most specially the male. When I was in undergraduate school I was strongly encouraged to follow the path of instructors - all of them abstract expressionists, with little regard for the literal, let alone the figurative. I really defied their “currency” and world view, went against most of the prevailing theories of high purpose for the artist of that time and had to wait until the eighties to see a resurgence of and appreciation for realism and the figure in art. I believed I was following a path, at that time (late sixties), that would eventually come to be understood and even admired. I feel the same now, knowing that the male form will be understood as a manifestation of the ideal and eternal. The figure simply as subject can not ever be exhausted in the practice of art to my mind.
EG: Tell me something people might not know about you or your work?
LS: Once again, many know me only as a retail design executive. I took an early retirement from that successful enterprise, last February, to pursue art full time, which has turned into seven days a week passion. My business background has given me discipline, work ethic and further resolve to pursue my most personal goals. I feel a strong urge to produce my current work and make up for lost time.
EG: Who would be your inspirations as an artist?
LS: As I mentioned in the synopsis, I have been inspired by a diverse collection of artists through the history of art up to and including current figurative practitioners. All artists that I am passionate about share a common sensibility about the male form as a singular beautiful and inspiring object/subject with a special sensitivity for capturing the nuances of Light on all perceived surfaces.
EG: Where do you find your models? (Do you have an unusual story related to modeling?)
LS: I have used photos and live models as well. Networking through art school contacts. I used a Craigslist ad that I posted on the one described above! I met a young attractive women in the dog park a few days ago, and she offered to model for me!
EG: Tell us about your very first exhibition.
LS: I had just moved back to the west coast just after completing my graduate degree in Painting and Drawing from Arizona State University. I was living in Los Angeles. I prepared for a one person exhibition at the Wexler Weiss Gallery in Encino, California. In the final hours leading up to the show I came down with a debilitating flu and could not attend my own opening. A former student of mine (that I mentored), assembled and framed everything, hung the show and stood in for me at the opening. The LA Times Art Critic William Wilson was to review the show, but was called out of the country and had his assistant stand in. It was reviewed and they got my name wrong.
EG: Do you remember the first time you ever sold a work of art?
LS: I was very young (still in high school), painting mostly Still Life work, and sold through a local gallery in Tarzana, CA. The gallery was the Paul R Olsen Gallery. One of his many artists at the time that exhibited with him was Wade Reynolds. His work was so terrific, sumptuous and atmospheric. The most amazing surface approach…I was so proud and inspired to be in his company! His technique grabbed and moved me.
EG: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
LS: I felt the artistic urge when I was a pre-teen. I would stay in doors, preferring to paint and draw on my own when I came home from school. I would go to the library and select books on art. I would check them out and bring them home to copy from.
EG: Without burning any bridges can you share a best or worst experience in a gallery or with a client?
LS: I have painted several commissioned portraits, particularly as a young artist, and one was less than flattering (as in not idealizing the subject matter), which resulted in refusal to accept and pay for the competed painting. I was destroyed by the negative response, I could only internalize and keep my thoughts to myself. My portrait was a honest likeness of the young suburbanite, who was not expecting reality but a lot of glamorization! On a positive note, I was commissioned to provide a portrait of Karl Menninger (the pioneer American Psychriatrist, Author and Lecturer) in commemoration of his eightieth birthday in 1974. The work was warmly received and hangs in the Menninger Foundation Library in Topeka, Kansas.
EG: When sales are down, what have you done to support yourself?
LS: As I mentioned earlier, I previously worked as a corporate officer for numerous retail companies in the US and Europe for over thirty years, so I did not have to support myself through my art. Today I work in my studio unencumbered.
EG: Do you have a secret talent? (Juggling, knitting, bird calls?)
Well - through the years I have developed a reasonable public speaking facility (a business requirement). I can talk somewhat extemporaneously about subjects that I am familiar with, beyond art appreciation or design. I like to coach, teach and inspire where I can. My Dad was both a teacher and a businessman.
EG: Have you ever been brought to tears in front of a work of art? If so, share that experience.
LS: Standing in front of a Vermeer? I have been transfixed by the little jewels of Light emanating from within. There is a magical amalgam of paint seamlessly melded and fused. Piero…the Flagellation in Urbino, the perfection of geometric spatial gymnastics with lithe bodies bathed in Light set into this stage. The Nativity in London, or the Baptism in London….Unearthly. Angels of porcelain in airy outdoor settings. Michael Leonard’s deeply intimate, penetrating and sensuous caresses of the male form. Totally seductive but not lurid.
EG: What subject is the most challenging for you as an artist to capture?
LS: The human form, but more specifically emotion and human spirit.
EG: If you could own just one work of art, which one would it be? Pretend money is not an issue.
LS: Piero…The Flagellation
EG: Do you collect art? If so, what do you collect?
LS: Would if I could! But I cherish my art books, monographs and catalogues.
EG: If you have been working as an artist for more than 10 years, what advice would you give to younger artists just starting out?
LS: It is clearly a solitary and lonely path. One must have confidence and commitment and simply pursue one’s personal vision with determination. Disappointment is inevitable, but persistence is required. I just finished reading Eric Fischl’s recent autobiography: BAD BOY. Great read. Apropos here.
EG: If you could wave a magic wand and anyone in the world would appear to be your next male model, who would that dream model be? (Elaborate a bit on why please.)
LS: Well I clearly prefer fit, young and ideal looking. There are many more than one of those!
LINK for the 19th edition of THE ART OF MAN: https://www.createspace.com/5110200