Interview with Vincent Langaard
Why did you want to become an artist or work with art?
Ironic as it may be, and certainly in complete contradiction to what I assume constitutes a significant portion of my mother’s world view, I’ve never had a natural flair or disposition towards creative faculties. Growing up I was like most kids and I still consider myself a very average person. However I always did enjoy the in-depth research projects at school, where amongst others, the oral presentations allowed for this inclination to develop. I guess some subconscious residue from these positive experiences later drove me to study theatre, which despite not being part of my practice any longer, offered a great introduced to the realm of art and analytical thinking.
The same appeal applies to fine art, and I suppose the realisation of increased freedom of exploration is what drove me to make the leap from theatre to painting. Each series or composite body of work signifies an investigation of a topic, whereas the individually unrelated works often emanate from more ephemeral interests. Conversely, the studies relate back to an elementary fascination with the anatomy of the craft and oil paint as a medium, which I impartially favour above other artistic dialects. There are few things in life I find as satisfying as looking at well manufactured paintings.
Obviously, once embarked on the unpredictable and enigmatic road of trying to become a professional artist, whereupon one soon realises the necessary sacrifices, such as investment of time and labour, the solitude, the total lack of economic security and the stress of knowing that midsts the myriad of wild luck and the art world’s perpetual moral oscillations, everything relies on ones own tenacity – the question involuntarily repeats itself in the back of ones head: “why am I doing this?”
To those I share my concerns with, I often receive an indifferent brush of the shoulders and the all too predictable, nonchalant proposition of proportional sacrifice: “yeah, but at least you’re doing what you love.” And that’s true, to an extent, but the real reason why I stick to it, is slightly more complex. Admittedly I have often considered changing occupation, going back to studies and doing something completely different, but every time this fantasy unfolds in my mind, I reach the same conclusion: “this is all I know”. Then a moment after, a much more despondent thought appears: “…and I barely even know this”. However, what is great about art is that you can change whatever you’re doing at any time. You have that freedom. I guess that’s what attracted me in the first place and is still part of the reason why I keep at it.
What inspires you?
What does it even mean to be inspired? It is a very confusing concept made yet more ambiguous by the multitude of connotations and associations surrounding it. I feel similarly about the word: talented. As a result I’m not really sure if I have ever felt inspired. If we consider the romantic notion of inspiration, suggesting the individual being bestowed by virtue of some external antecedent with irrational emotional exultation; then I can only recollect a handful of qualified encounters (Harald Sohlberg’s Vinternatt i Rondane, C. R. Van Minnen’s Golden Meme series, J. Morgan’s Into the blue Gustave Courbet’s On the edge of the cliff, Rene Magritte’s Man with a newspaper, Peder S. Krøyer’s A Luncheon). Besides being unrelated in any meaningful way, these works of art share the traits of being painted and efficient. If on the other hand I am to understand inspiration as a form of motivation, then the simple answer is that I am inspired by what I consider efficient art. Upon such encounters, which also concern instances of purely technical and conceptual innovation, I get extremely envious and upset at my own comparative incompetence, I begin to hate the artist whom I admire for his/her brilliance and I eventually convert all these strange feelings into a burning desire for self-improvement. Conversely, if I am to understand inspiration as a case of topical fascinations or insatiable curiosity then it is a matter of continuous change. As already briefly mentioned, each series or body of work reflects a separate topic or subject of interest. Whereas the three large-scale paintings currently on display symbolically echo an introspective investigation, I am currently working with a new body of work that deals with sensations of overstimulation of information, semantic satiation, cognitive dissonance and simulacrum while using aesthetic dialects derived from internet-based subcultures and cultural fads that are idiosyncratic for the millennium generation. Nevertheless, regardless of what I’m currently interested in, I can never create anything that is not based on a genuine personal experience.
Do you have a goal or intention with your art?
Yes, but in order to make sense of this I’ll first have to clarify a few preliminaries. Although I am a firm believer in the beneficial effect of art on the individual and society at large, I also think it important to remember that its faculty of service is limited to cognitive stimulation, which renders it a commodity of relative inferior pragmatic priority. Put it differently, placed in a situation with limited resources and chance of survival in jeopardy, the logical acquisition of means should favour that which most immediately stabilise conditions. Hence, only when the essential needs of life are secured, is it possible to selectively pursue the acquisition of cognitive stimuli, intellectual development and aesthetic pleasure. Now, if bestowed with a grain of empathy, the person who managed to secure his essential needs should, before doing anything else, feel obliged to help those around him that may still be struggling. Lest that persons alternative occupation justifies him abstaining from directly helping those in need, he ought to be judged concordantly vain, detrimentally haphazard, cynical, ignorant and opportunistic. Every member of society share this responsibility and so when making art, I always consider whether or not the expenditure of resources is justifiably proportional to the beneficial impact my work may foster. Since this is impossible to predict, I focus on trying to make the underlying concept innovative, illuminating and contextually self-aware while simultaneously developing a technical language capable of supplying the viewer with aesthetic pleasure (which is an important aspect of life quality, on par with the exultation an avid sport enthusiast may gain from watching a good game or race). In short, I am quite conscious about trying to supply art that is more likely to have a positive impact on the viewer than it is of causing an effect of regression.
What do you consider good art?
There’s a comical quality to this question in that it so casually circumvent the fact that in order to know what is good art, one first have to know what art is. That being said, there is perhaps no greater dispute in human history than that which concerns the task of defining art. As it just so happens, I am not entirely satisfied with the current consensus and offer my own alternative take on the subject as such: Art is the culmination of aesthetic properties applied to an instance of communication beyond the point of intuition. Good art must therefore be recognised as the combination of aesthetic choices that positively contribute to the expedience of informative conveyance. Meanwhile, any aesthetic element that is strictly speaking redundant, will only gain the comparative quality of contamination. Upon these acknowledgements, efficiency is the only possible rubric one can consistently depend upon and so I judge art solely on the basis of its ability to- and how efficiently it does so – serve whatever function it was meant to. Another criteria I believe prerequisite for good art is that the eventual effect it may obtain, must be beneficial to the human development to the point where its allocation of resources is justified.
What bothers you most about the art world?
Like most institutional practices formed with altruistic intents i.e. religion and politics, the most disconcerting problem with the art world stems from the inevitable conflict of interests that necessarily occur when a secular alternative to religion (which art has become in that it performs no practical service beyond aesthetic pleasure and the promotion of positive humanist values) depends on something as morally corruptive and deceitful as pecuniary incentives. In the ideal world; artists, politicians, religious leaders, school deacons and CEOs of big companies, would all be exempted from the typical salary solution, in favour of an allowance proportional to reasonable needs and life quality, which would render positions of influence and power, desired only by those with benevolent agendas. But that is not the case. Instead we have created a system that is ripe for ruthless opportunists, vain dilettantes and haphazard ignoramuses. The only solution I see potentially able to remedy the situation or at least minimise the damages would be a unified definition of what makes good art, good. Thus equipped we could effortlessly deter notions like “art for art’s sake”, “art is inherently good” and “you can’t say it’s not art”, which on account of dissuading critical thinking are really just rhetorical guises of toxic ignorance. In short, what bothers me most about the art world is the influential constituents who encourage a lack of systematisation and standardisation which one would normally find in any other industry. Why the lack of consistency is undesirable, corresponds to art’s imperative position in society and if we take into consideration factors like long-term conditioning it should be clear why it is important that we try to minimise the exposition and adoration of objects with detrimental effects i.e.: art which represent racist or hateful ideals, art that presents romantic notions as real, art which intentionally appease the audiences preconceptions of art conservative art etc.
Can you say something about some of the works at display?
Certainly, although there is more to say about some of the works than others. For instance, the three large-scale paintings belong to a series sardonically dubbed Amour-Propre, which is french for self-love. At the time of making these paintings I was, like most young people, very uncertain of my own identity. Painting and writing then became a sort of coping mechanism as these vents allowed me to manifest that which I wasn’t really comfortable talking about. The paintings also furnish an intentional collision between bright colour schemes and dark themes, which again, was how I dealt with difficult feelings.
“Football Porn” is the birth-child of an imagined discussion that transpired between myself and a friend from art school. In reality he had actually confessed – during a class talk – his fascination with aesthetic pleasure, but his articulation revealed the erroneous consideration of aesthetics as semantically equal to beauty. As neither students nor teachers interjected to rectify his misconception, this episode triggered a fervent reaction in me. Wanting to prove a point, I then asked myself what would happen if I adopted my friends rationale, which stated: aesthetic pleasure – meaning pleasurable cognitive stimuli – is indiscriminately equal to beauty. It soon followed that a combination of the most prevalent sources of such stimuli in our society – football and porn – should prove potent contributors in the making of what would become the most beautiful painting in the world. I believe this painting is part of the reason why my friend stopped talking to me.
“Schadenfreude” (German expression for: the joy of seeing others suffer) is another painting based on an observation of external affairs. We humans have an insatiable appetite for stories involving individuals with tortured pasts and those who overcome tremendous hardships. I too am guilty of this, both in real life, in the art world and especially when it comes to characters in films and books. It is after all the kernel point in the aristotelean model. However, I try not to forget that just because someone has gone through hell and come back, does not necessarily make them competent conductors. Nevertheless in the contemporary art world, it seems almost a prerequisite condition that the artist must have suffered in some capacity, in order to exercise a voice of authority. And furthermore that the greater suffering he/she can document, the more the value of the work is likely to appreciate. This is perhaps especially noticeable to someone like me: a caucasian, heterosexual, male from an upper middle-class home with no traumas from childhood, no physical or mental dysfunctions and free from social subjugation. In the eyes of the art world I have no authentic experiences worth sharing, and that is also true, to an extent. However as a joke, I have often been thinking; that if there was a wheel of fortune only for artists, it would delegate injuries and traumas and instead of money.
“Autogenous Penitentiary” is a symbolic painting in which the main character – my alter ego – is hard at work, trying to sustain his own unnecessary prison. On his shoulders rests a massive wooden beam, which is ultimately bolted to the marble frame in which he stands, thus making the strain of holding it up redundant. Several loose hanging chains connect the frame with the central character by proxy of a leather belt that circles his waist and which he can take off at any point without incurring consequences. His right hand and left foot cling on to a metal pole that seemingly serves no function in terms of structural support. His left hand holds onto a rope that slithers through a system of pulleys before being tied to a hook on the floor where it seemingly evaporates, rendering its function nought.
As for the rest of the paintings at display, I consider them studies or practice pieces and beyond that description there is really not much else to say about them.
Glasgow School of Art – Bachelor i Fine Art, Maling og Trykk
Strykejernet Kunstskole - Fulltids Forstudium i Kontemporær Kunst
Ski Videregående Skole - Generell Studiekompetanse med Drama og Teater
Kurs: Edinburgh Atelier of Fine Art - Deltidskurs i klassiske tegne- og maleteknikker
Asker Kunstfagskole - Deltidskurs i klassiske maleteknikker under Morten W. Reigstad
Galleri Nobel, Oslo
Rogart Street Campus, Glasgow. Separatutstilling: Amour-Propre
The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow. Separatutstilling: Amour-Propre
DOK Artist Space, Edinburgh. Separatutstilling: Amour-Propre
Six Foot Gallery, Glasgow. Kollektivutstilling: Showcase
MacLellan Galleries, Glasgow. Student Exhibition: PAT Tested
Heggedal Fabrikker, Asker. FKFS Kollektivutstilling
Tontine Building, Glasgow. Studentutstilling
Ingensteds, Oslo. Separatutstilling
Strykejernet, Oslo. Studentutstilling
Galleri Brenneriet, Oslo. Kollektivutstilling
lllustrerte novelle av Robin McLeodAug.
Oversettelse av Per Schreiner’s Den Brysomme mannen og Plutselig
Fremførte Den Merkverdige Rariteten ved Ingensteds, Oslo
Fremførte Prosessen i Black box ved Ski Videregående skole
Skrev og Trykket min første roman “Frisaurhandtwerk”