An Interview with Grear Patterson at his Studio in the Bronx, New York
American artist Grear Patterson is based in the Bronx, New York. We first met at his solo exhibition True Romance at Marlborough Contemporary, which attracted a broad spectrum of creatives and collectors from Mayfair to Hackney. Grear’s mixed-media works are known for recurring motifs and exploring pop-culture. Despite features in publications like GQ and Vogue, there is no further evidence of Grear's social media presence or website. Inevitably, my curiosity led me to his Bronx studio, which has since moved further out to Yonkers. Living off the beaten track, Grear has paved the way for artists more concerned by square footage than an enviable address.
Born to a Chilean mother and Canadian father, Grear grew up in a house filled with art in North Carolina before studying at Duke University and the School of Visual Arts in New York. With shows hosted by cutting-edge galleries such as Marlborough Contemporary, Rod Bianco in Oslo and Carl Kostyal in Stockholm, Grear is always on the move. Despite never buying return tickets for his journeys to exhibitions, Grear is also finding time to build a house in the Bahamas. Group shows have included Total Project Space in Athens, Galerie Olivier Robert in Paris and the 9th Shanghai Biennale. Alongside talented friends like artists Nick Fahri, James Franco and Chase Hall, they all seem to share an appreciation for the old school approach of relying on word of mouth for their ideas and work to cross-pollinate.
Grear’s personal art collection includes artists such as Edward Weston, Edward Steichen and Dash Snow as well as Joe Bradley and Roe Ethridge. Visual references in Grear's work vary from the culture of the Bronx to 1980/90’s films watched as a child, and the fabrics collected in his studio. From parachutes to boat sails, these fabrics could be seen to represent, “youthful possibility, odyssey and adventure” according to Marlborough Contemporary. As Grear drove me to the subway, I reflected upon the artist’s playful character, positive energy and inexhaustible imagination. I felt optimistic about exploring the next generation of artists in New York.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to be an artist?
I always made stuff and growing up around works my parents had. So being an artist was always on the radar.
What piece of your artwork would you like to be remembered for?
I haven't made that work yet and being remembered at all is a luxury.
If you could work within a past art movement, which would it be?
The 1960's and 1970's.
How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?
Even if you're sad, it makes you feel better.
Do you have a favourite photograph or painting, which inspires you?
I just like being outside and nature - the grandeur of simple things.
What is your greatest indulgence in life?
Can you offer some insight into the culture of the Bronx?
I have old family buried in the Bronx, but never lived here prior. I'd say respect is met with respect and family always comes first.
Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?
J. M. W. Turner or Caravaggio.
Do you interact with the digital world or technology in your work?
No, I don't.
What do you wish every child were taught?
That they can do anything.
Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?
No, I haven't.
What is your favourite art gallery in New York and why?
Gagosian, where I saw Richard Serra's exhibition as a kid with my dad.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
Ed Ruscha, because I once took a picture of him kissing the model Lauren Hutton and he reminded me of a secret agent.
Why do you make and receive studio visits?
What visual references do you draw upon in your work?
Everyday things and my own mind patterns.
What is your daily routine when working?
I start working around 9am having woken up around 7am to prepare some stuff I want to make and take it from there. Start and clean really.
What advice would you give to a young artist following in your steps?
Work everyday, stay in touch with loved ones and friends.
Do you find that New York’s art scene inspires or influences your art?
No, I don't.
Do you love what you do?
Yes, very much so.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.