Interview: Jason Engelbart
Luca Curci talks with Jason Engelbart, winner of the Honorable Mention during the ITSLIQUID International Contest – 7th edition.
In art lies the chance to bring faith, hope and meaning into our world without following traditional religious approaches. Art always brings people into a current relationship with being. It is a source of inspiration for looking inwards – for contemplating and reflecting on one’s own views and experiences. Art enlivens and enriches without demanding. The source of my group of works “THE JOY OF BEING” (2016 to today) can be found in the opulent works of Baroque painting from Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to Antoine Watteau to Jean-Honoré Fragonard. I am mainly fascinated by the playful use of light and colour, the flowing forms and the special expression of light and dark contrasts. On an emotional level, I am particularly touched by the religious and mythological scenes of the ceiling and wall paintings of this epoch of art. Driven by my search for the perfect moment, the moment of perfect love, the divine, I trace these values especially in the works of sacred baroque painting. Using my characteristic digital painting technique, developed over the years, I abstract selected original works of this epoch by superimposing picture levels, blurring, overpainting and re-composing them. In the process, my very own flowing structures and pictorial rhythms emerge, while the original colour composition remains largely untouched. In sum, colour and form transform into a single aesthetic-abstract event that is experienced on a purely emotional level and independent of time and space as a holy moment. The underlying historical works thus experience a current dimension of perception while at the same time creating the impression of a déjà-vu when contemplating my abstract neopaintings. Through this form of digitally painterly, abstract re-staging of the original, I build a finely balanced bridge to contemporary art without disenchanting. Neopaintings – This designation for Jason Engelbart’s works stands for the topicality of his work in our digital age and is also his artistic program. Because since 2010 he works and experiments with the diverse digital tools of the computer. But despite their purely technical origins, Engelbart’s work does not appear to be overcooled technologically, but rather looks like artfully executed, extremely sensitive color compositions. This is the special magic of his so-called neopaintings. The transfer of the initially immaterial image to the material manifestation is done in the printing process on high-quality photographic material with subsequent framing on Alu-Dibond and final high-gloss sealing. The interplay of unconventional working methods and contemporary materials ensures the uniqueness in Jason Engelbart’s work. Each of his artworks is strictly limited to one original, personally signed and comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Jason Engelbart – The more our world is unsteady, the more the intentions for positive charging and balancing become stronger in me. It is not about painting the things in my works looking beautiful, but rather about using the means at my disposal to trigger reflection and create a positive awareness of our daily interaction. My artistic motivation is therefore derived from three decisive core parameters – love instead of hate, gentleness instead of anger, tolerance instead of rejection. Each and every one of us is able to make a balancing contribution and to take this world a bit further from its brutalization and dismantling. Our daily thoughts and actions play a key role in this process. Thankfulness and awareness are, in my opinion, the essential and supportive vehicles at our disposal – we have the free choice. At any time! Now! Here!” Here is the source of my sacral-abstract emotional works. In the creative process I feel deeply connected with my soul, my spirit… with God. My so called digital neopaintings are created in a purely intuitive creative process and are reflections of my personal feelings and experiences.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And contemporary art?
JE – From my personal point of view, all forms of art are expressions of human existence. They are instruments for dealing with the past and at the same time have a dimension directed towards the future through visionary content, that can be guiding for the further development of society. This is why it is particularly important for an artist to use his/her possibilities of artistic expression in a respectful and responsible manner. In our multi-ethnic world, art therefore has a particularly high status. At best, it is an engagement to support integration and to highlight the positive elements of cultural diversity. In this sense, art is an invitation to a dialogue between the most diverse cultures and it offers the opportunity for self- reflection – for the artist and also for each recipient. Therefore, the artist and the cultural evolution have a high social responsibility.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
JE – The source of my inspiration lies in my individual perception of daily life and in my personal reflection on our global social developments. To take up a recent topic, for example, I am currently asking myself how the corona crisis is affecting our lives and what changes it is bringing about for our coexistence. Is it also a blessing or just a curse? Can this crisis possibly make a positive contribution to revolutionizing our awareness of each other? Can we find our way back to a more conscious way of life by collectively overcoming the crisis? By pursuing such issues I find my creative, content-related approach for my sacred-looking, abstract works. As a result, my consideration of these questions always leads me to an artistic expression of courage and – how an embrace of the soul – it should evoke a healing reflection. The inspiration of my group of works “THE JOY OF BEING” (2016 to today) can be found in the opulent works of Baroque painting from Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to Antoine Watteau and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. I am mainly fascinated by the playful use of light and colour, the flowing forms and the special expression of light and dark contrasts. On an emotional level, I am particularly touched by the religious and mythological scenes of the ceiling and wall paintings of this epoch of art.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
JE – Looking at today’s art market, the market developments are under increasing rapid acceleration. Very few galleries observe an artist for more than five years before they include him or her in their program. It seems to me that the permanent search for the new, which quickly brings in money, is responsible for this. It’s like a share and therefore often just a question of speculation and a worthwhile investment. For me as an artist this means to position myself particularly contra-indicated by not submitting to this superficial speed. I remain true to myself and do not adapt to the fashions of the art world. Because I am convinced that a high-quality artistic development needs time and space to unfold freely. And in the long run, this attitude will ultimately prevail in our fast-moving times.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
JE – No change would mean stagnation. Art, however, must remain in motion in order to reflect current affairs. Exactly ten years ago, I began to make a change from brush and canvas to new, contemporary forms of expression with the computer as a tool. In doing so, I experimented with various digital instruments, dropped a lot of ideas and developed some aspects further. It was a long and exciting way to my current artistic style. And this inspiring journey is far from over, because there is still a lot to discover.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
JE – Absolutely! Through the diverse networking and the broad spectrum of the creative disciplines represented, ITSLIQUID positively lifts the boundaries between art, architecture, design and fashion. In this way the ITSLIQUID GROUP promotes the exchange of these artistic forms of expression and brings to light the mutual impulses and influences and makes them accessible to a broad international audience. This offers very special chances for every artist to present his work to the public in a comprehensive context.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
JE – Of cause I do. I am very pleased about this extraordinary chance for cooperation and of the special honor to have had the opportunity to have this interview. Thank you very much and my best wishes for a further successful work of the ITSLIQUID GROUP.