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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Interview with Shalom Tomas Neuman

q)Please tell us your name and where you practice.

a)Shalom Tomas Neuman. I live and work in both New York City, US and Prague, Czech Republic

q) Why do you make art?

a)It’s what I have been doing my entire life almost every day for sixty years.... I need to make art; it is almost an uncontrollable bodily function. In fact, when I was asked that question in 1970 while I was doing my graduate thesis, I said I need to make art like I need to eat and shit. In saying this I was told that I offended the Dean of the school and the benefactors!

q) How do you work ?

a)I am fortunate enough to have my studio below my warehouse loft in Brooklyn, New York. I make art everyday.

q) What’s your background?

a)I have a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in both Painting and Sculpture from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA as well as postgraduate fellowship in Sculpture from Indian University

q) What role does the artist have in society?

a)From my vantage point, the artist uses his artwork to speak his (or her) mind, express his opinions and beliefs and to mirror society and culture. Art is a direct reflection of the times in which we live. An artist’s job is to speak to that honestly, no matter what the cost.

q) What was a seminal experience for you ?

a)Arriving on a boat from Israel into New York Harbor at age 13. It blew my mind because I had never seen such tall buildings nor had I ever seen cars, only jeeps and buses.

q) Has your practice changed over time ?

a)All of my artwork is framed within the concept of Fusion art (see below). My creative process has not changed but it has expanded into more(with new materials and equipment) technology just as our world has become irrevocably entrenched in technology. The number of consumers who have computers, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, etc has grown exponentially and all signs point to that trend is continuing.

q) What art do you most identify with ?

a)Multi sensory, multi disciplinary art, what I have called FusionArt since the 1960s. Art that combines all the artistic genres such as painting, sculpture, action/performance, written/spoken word, etc. into a unique genre of its own.

q) What’s your strongest memory of your childhood ?

a)The Israeli Mediterranean Ocean and walking barefoot most of the time.

q) What themes do you pursue ?

a)Inequality, injustice, ecology/consumerism and religious dogma.

q) Describe a real life experience that inspired you.

a)When I returned to Prague, the city of my birth, as an adult for the first time.

q) What’s your most embarrassing moment ?

a)I have a tendency to forget a person's name within minutes of being introduced and then I call them by another, completely unrelated name. It gets confusing to say the least.

q) What jobs have you done other than being an artist ?

a)I have taught art on a college level for 40 years. to put myself through school I worked as a dishwasher and a finishing carpenter.

q) What responses have you had to your work?

a)I have always had very positive responses to my work. But in New York everything is about being expedient and commercial - make art fast, sell art fast; bang a nail in the wall, throw a painting/print/photograph on it, wheel in a pedestal and place a sculpture on it. Galleries want the less complicated work. This is the direct antithesis to the European aesthetic which is more open to and appreciative of the complexities and multiple layers of fusion art.

q) What do you dislike about the art world ?

a)The phoniness and the unwillingness to embrace anything or anyone new that hasn’t already be “anointed” by the powers that be. The fact that the art world is more about commodity than creativity. It often isn’t about the art, but rather about who you know with the most money and connections.

q) What research do you do ?

a)I have a personal assistant who helps me with my research.

q) What is your dream project?

a)To create a completely multi sensory environmental room where the illusion of space and time is constantly changing and evolving. What seems near can be far, what seems tangible is intangible and vice versa. You are enmeshed in the artwork, and you do not know if you are outside, or inside or where you are in time and space.

q) What’s the best piece of advice you have been given ?

a)Elaine DeKooning advising me to come to New York.

q) What couldn’t you do without?


q) What makes you angry?

a)Dishonesty and disloyalty

q) What is your worst quality?

a)I am too trusting. I prefer to believe that people are motivated by good and as we all know this isn’t always the case.

q) Dogs or Cats ?

a)I love both

q) Making art is a lot like tripping on LSD. Know what I mean?

a)I agree completely! I get a natural high making art.

q) What does “ copy” mean to you ?

a)To be unoriginal - if you have to copy the thoughts and ideas of others, you are both unoriginal and not a creative trailblazing thinker.

q) What’s your favorite cuss word ?

a)Charah, which means shit in Hebrew


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