Interview: Jean Cherouny
Luca Curci talks with Jean Cherouny during THE BODY LANGUAGE and RITUALS, first appointment of the ANIMA MUNDI 2022 art fair, at Palazzo Bembo – Venice Grand Canal.
American artist Jean Cherouny is known for a painting style she calls Active Expressionism first inspired by innovative Abstract Expressionist painters Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, and Rebecca Purdum. Jean uses wheels of all sorts to create dynamic art pieces and interactive videos. Jean Cherouny’s artistic achievements expand a spirit of creative transcendence through technical invention. As Pollock threw and dripped paint, as Purdum applies paint with her own hands and fingers, Jean Cherouny first went “beyond the brush” using her rollerblade wheels to literally skate paint onto the canvas. Bursting with athletic energy and spirit, her work simultaneously involves the eye, mind, and body. Jean’s art and public performances have been seen around the world.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Jean Cherouny – I have been a professional artist since graduating with my MFA in 2010. As a child, I loved painting, drawing, and sports. During graduate school, I decided to take risks in my painting. When I got injured in a soccer game, I changed my direction in the art to all abstract painting by using recycled rollerblades as my paintbrush on large canvases. Learning from other artists impacted me as I grew as an artist. I met Louis Bourgeois in NYC several times to discuss my work. It had a huge impact on my art-making direction. There was Robert Rauschenberg who experimented with using roller skates and paint creating large black painted circles. As a 21st-century painter, I am like a locomotive gripping the canvas grabbing colors from my environment.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
JC – I am free in my mind to create what my body feels. My toes and wheels become one on the canvas. The method of moving like a machine is natural and poetic to me. I feel that my body is the guiding force behind my choice of abstraction. My movements guide my direction covering the canvas in paint. Color accentuates the emotion that I feel in my body. I find rhythm in painting that is reminiscent of skiing and biking. My physical memory propels me as a contemporary abstract painter. My current subjects while I paint are circular and linear. The lines move all over the canvas in a motion propelled by my physical invention of painting with my rollerblades.
LC – What do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
JC – I am a big believer in the power of rituals and being obsessed with a process that is one’s own. I do hope to inspire others as I use my own painting rituals to continue to make my paintings. Having the theme show that an artist is committed to their own process is an excellent theme.
LC – How is it being an artist nowadays?
JC – The main thing I do as an artist is: move with my paint and look at it to decide what I am doing on the canvas before I roll over it. This allows me to see them critically, which is a different perspective than most traditional perspectives in abstract art-making. I then work out a path that starts with one painting to the next painting. One painting’s colors are shared with another painting and they become related. I spread the paint from canvas to canvas and add more paint as it dries. Each time I paint the ritual is repeated using my skate wheels to flick my ankles and toes to make energetic strokes of paint. Being an artist has an advantage because I do what I feel needs to be done on the canvas. I feel free. The movement in my works comes from my body and I can feel that freedom moving in me on out onto the canvas.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
JC – Nature’s colors and my body’s movement inspire me when I work in my studio but others influence my art when I am painting or showing it in front of them in public. I like it when I hear people talk about what they see in my paintings. It is inspiring to know what they feel and see. People will say that they feel the energy from the work and that it is positive. The horizon line is a guiding principle. In my circle paintings, the horizon is at the eye’s level as a painting hangs on the wall. So when people see my work they know it is understood as a concept of movement and rhythm in
my body. I like that my work expresses something moving that is a fixed moment in time. I mix acrylic colors directly on a surface by pouring colors out of the bottle. This combines the impressionist and expressionist styles of painting that are inherent in my abstract work.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
JC – The repetition of moving patterns forces me to consider the visual impact of my art as a ritual. It pleases me to have familiar shapes like circles and squares as I move in different directions on the canvas. Shapes help centralize the energy into the canvas space. So this use of materials from the street plays into a modern context of contemporary art. The context of my art is to use a series of my processes for the motion of my body. I am committed to the way the paint allows me to focus on applying colors and shapes in different arrangements. It’s important to trust what I do as an act that brings me into the future with the history of other artists using my own ritual with paint. I have used water as a theme before as in my Fountain of Movement painting shown in Venice. I made a film that expressed social justice found in my painting style. Water is a spiritual and cleansing tribute to healing from traumas. It is also a force in nature like the body. My oscillating rollerblade motions create a fountain of movement in paint. Athletic motions interest me. The cycles of motion include circles and the different undulations of my body. My actions have had a connection to the past, present, and future. Wheels in combination with other motions move me forward and backward every day in many directions as is nature’s way of bringing us through time. This ritual is a healing ritual that creates my art.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
JC – I think ITSLIQUID is great! It has been rewarding to be invited to more shows with ITSLIQUID. This is important for developing an art community. We all need connections in the art community to improve our lives. There are many artists challenging themselves with their art. It is enjoyable to get to know these artists. The way in which I can be seen and heard helps the art world understand the wide range of artist styles. I have especially enjoyed working with the directors and the organizers. They are all helpful to any questions and challenges that I have faced in the exhibition.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
JC – “The Body Language” and other events are a fantastic way to meet people and have them learn about your group. I recommend that all artists use ITSLIQUID to grow an international audience. There are many collectors and people exploring the art in the group to bring art to an international stage.