Interview: Tim Hussey
First the basic introduction – can you tell us who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?
My name is Tim Hussey. I’m 46 and grew up in Charleston, SC. I left home to attend Rhode Island School of Design in 1988 – spending my third year in college at Parsons, Paris. After school, I moved to New York and spent the next 6 years working as an illustrator and art director for magazines.
Since that time, I have become a full time painter and have lived in Los Angeles, Tennessee, Brooklyn, Santa Fe and Charleston. I’m now married to my beautiful wife, reside in Charleston and work out of T. Hussey Studio.
How do you work and approach your subject? How would you describe your painting style?
I woud describe my work as ambiguous abstract expressionism. I rarely plan anything I paint. My approach is to work from the precise place my head is at the moment I start. That’s my personal way of searching for honest moments, otherwise, the end product means nothing to me. I aim to remain completely abstract and without any recognizable subject matter, but if a piece demands a moment of realism, I will include it.
What is it that inspires you to paint what you paint?
Moving through so many mediums and types of art, I found that painting was the perfect final method of expression for me. I started out as an illustrator, but after 10 years, got tired of working for art directors. I art directed magazines and got bored of sitting at the computer. I spent years doing photography, but became disenchanted after the explosion of phone photography. When I decided to start painting in 2000, I was ready to leave art directors and the commercial world behind. That said, a big part of what led me to paint what I paint is a reaction to all the years I forced my hand to please others in the commercial world. I always felt that as long as I was trying to please a client, it would be impossible to produce an honest image. Honest is a very relative term, but I mean honest to my instinct, my gut.
“Honest is a very relative term, but I mean honest to my instinct, my gut.”
My work should reflect as best it can the feeling in my head and body – the memories and worries and wonders of a totally unknowable universe. I can only gather fragments of thought and tiny bits of possible answers to unanswerable questions that I have about everything I see and feel. I want the rhythm and effect of my paintings to reflect those questions.
Everything is colliding, despite subject matter, sequence and style.
When you start a new piece, do you have a clear vision where to start or what you are going to do?
Only sometimes do I have a rough idea of the composition – maybe a small moment that I would like to happen. But rarely does this come together in the same way I imagined it. If I don’t feel the same moment in my head when I start the piece, I cannot possible recreate how I felt before, therefore it’s dead.
How critical you are about your works, how easy/hard is to finish your works? During the creating process, is there any singular part where you find yourself often struggling?
I struggle more in completing my paintings and I criticize my own work more than anything in the world. I have come to accept that I only get to enjoy and “see” my work for what it is during very fleeting moments. I think this must be the same for any artist who is trying to challenge himself or herself. It can be very lonely and frustrating to understand that transcendence is not very rewarding to the artist themselves– only later can I enjoy my own work. The biggest turning point in a piece is when I have completed the “obvious” answer to composition and have the choice to stop or keep pushing through, with the option to obliterate the moments of beauty in hopes that a more important moment will shine through later. It’s a never ending battle!
What connection do you have to your work? How does your emotional connection to a piece change while you are executing it? Do you ever become frustrated with a piece that isn’t coming out as you’d hoped or seen in your mind’s eye? When you make an error on a piece, a line you don’t like as much or otherwise, how do you correct it?
I have a lot of room to fuck up a piece – my style and body of work is built on repairing or painting over accidents. This is the origin of my layered process. My work is meant to reflect the indecision and lack of answers I have to daily life, therefore there will always be a storm of imagery that has been covered over partially, with bits of language and line stuttering throughout the layers.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Painting is the only moment I can totally own in my life. It’s in my best interest to pull the purest emotion, wonder and observation from my self and hope it translates visually as closely as possible.
You paintings are awesome, but those murals you’ve done, they really blew my mind. How your approaching/creative process differed when the ”canvas” was so much bigger and then other hand part of changing/living surroundings?
It’s so much easier to paint a mural – I haven’t done many, but when I get the chance, it doesn’t take long to complete. Fortunately, I have been given freedom with each mural to paint what I want. The fact that I can paint everything so large and in the same scale of life itself, in some ways, helps tremendously. I also do not see murals as precious, like my smaller work, so I do not worry too much about the final product. For instance, a small painting may take three months of looking at it every day to finally finish it. A mural generally takes about a week. And its much more fun.
I have always wanted people to look up close at my layers of texture – so these large murals make it easy to literally walk into my art.
What or who are your biggest influences as an artist?
All great photographers, favorite: William Eggleston
Painters: Cy Twombly, Leon Golub, Kippenberger, Baselitz, Neo Rausch, Schnabel, Albert Oehlen
Music: Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Fever Ray
If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?