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Monday, August 14, 2006

Interview with Charles Krafft

1)First of all...can you present yourself?

1)My full name is Charles Wing Krafft. I am an American artist living in Seattle. My primary work for the last15 years hasbeen in ceramics. Before that I was a painter. I am now considered a pioneer of the "low brow" or Pop Surrealism movement. This is a global underground visual art movement that has its roots in Californiain the custom car culture, the surfing culture and in'60s era underground comix. It is a a street-wise aesthetic that has been evolving and spreading out across the globe while at the same time remaining almost totally ignored by critics, museum curators and academic art historians. It has only recently begun to be documented. It exists on the Internet and by word of mouth in it's own parallel universe of events,magazines, galleries, shops and studios.

2)Do you think of yourself as an artist,or what?

2)Yes, I think of myself as an artist. But I have also been an independent art journalist. I have written about artists and various art events and art movementsfor newspapers, magazines and books.

3)What is creativity?

3)Creativity is a willed commitment to solitary or collective invention.

4)Does your environment influence your art, either in style/format or interference?

4)Yes. I live in "The Imperial City of the InformationAge" (the home of Bill Gates) and selective information influences what I make while random and excess information interferes with it. I tend to waste a lot of time processing information rather than working with my hands. Good craftsmanship is disappearing as technology advances. I started out trying to make elegant paintings with very simple and inexpensive tools. I often wonder if I could ever unplug and return to a life without electricity.

5)What are some of your influences and inspirations?

5)The art I make tends to be a visual record of my intellectual adventures. I suppose I'm a conceptualist because I don't make anything functional. Form and function are the pillars of pottery. I study potteryfor styles, but I don't make it. I use clay to make slippery statements about power and capital andcatastrophes.

6)What's your favorite mediums(pen,charcoal,paint,canvas,etc.)to work in/on?

6)I work in clay. This is my preferred medium now.

7)Who are some of your favorite painters/artists?

7)My all time favorite artists are two American originals-Morris Graves and Von Dutch (Kenneth Howard). I worshipped them. They are dead now and so is the world they inhabited. I feel very lucky to have been accepted as a friend and a colleague by these two reclusive visionaries. I am sad they are no longer here to admire and laugh at life with. Two living master painters of ceramics that I respect very much are Romano Ranieri from Deruta, Italy and Gerard Born from Gouda in the Netherlands. Jan Van Dessins is an other Dutch maestro I should mention. My favorite contemporary artists are Vim Delvoye (Belgium), JanFaber (Belgium) and Maurizio Cattelan (Italy). Of course, the NSK group in Slovenia are the cleverest drunks and junkies I've ever met.

8)How long does it normally take you to complete a piece of your artwork?

8)One or two weeks.

9)What else are you interested in besides visual arts?

9)Travel,interbellic Romanian history,psychedelics,Holocaust revisionism, Brazillian transsexuals, prison architecture,sadhus,cemeteries,derelict buildings,abandoned houses,cheesy John Davis Chandler and Mimsy Farmer movies.

10)Got any new projects planned?

10)I am currently working with two other artists on aminiature concentration camp for birds-"Fowlschwitz."

11)How would you describe your art to someone whocould not see it?

11)My art looks like a cheap souvenir shop in Holland.

12)What other talent would most like to have?

12)To speak more than one language. Play a musical instrument.

13)What are your most beloved items?

13)A necktie from the boy's school I was expelled from. A branding iron in the shape of a swastika. A picture of Tarzan (Johnny Weismuller) autographed to my father.Electric Hairclippers.

14)Favourite books?

14)When I told my Italian American ex-girlfriend that I was reading The Force of Reason by Oriana Fallaci and she almost hung up on me. She likes Antonio Negri. He makes my horse vomit.

1. Against the Modern World by Julius Evola

2..Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte

3.Religion and Politics: Bishop Valerian Trifa and His Times by Gerald Bobango

4. Roots and Wings: Poetry From Spain 1900-l975 edited by Hardie St. Martin

5.Morris Graves:Vision of the Inner Eye by Ray Kass

6.The Art of Von Dutch by edited by Tornado Design

15)Do you remember the first drawing you made?

15)My mother saved one of my earliest drawings. It is a faded watercolor of marching soldiers.

16)What kind of music do you like and do you listen to. And is the music important for your art?

16)I collected all kinds of music before it was availableon the Internet. First I collected records, then tapes and CDs.Music was important to me for as long as I could keep up with it. With the advent of computer file sharing I fell behind and lost interest in trying to stay current. Now I think there is too much music everywhere. I go out to eat or to meet people and we can't talk normally because the music is too loud.When I ask for softer music or for no music at all the people in charge get insulted. I recently sold 1/2 of my music library because I wasn't listening to it that often anymore. Now I listen to the radio while I workto all of those cautious experts on everything who are afraid to say what they really think. I like Zucchero,Magnifico and Nino D'Angelo.

17) What advice do you have for artists?

17)A friend of mine named Bill Ritchey wrote a book abouthow to be a successful artist. One of the things he felt artists should always remember to polish their shoes.

18)Your contacts.E-mail..Links.
18) Streaming video interview: artwork.aspx,FishtownEdition.htm


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