Jamie Martinez: Thanks for taking your time to do this interview. I can’t wait to see your artwork this Saturday during Our Town’s Art of Food evening at Sotheby’s, which you are co-hosting with world-renowned Chef Claus Meyer. What should we expect to see at the show?
Richard Meier: At least three of my new encaustic collages will be on display – this is a series I have been working on for the past three years with Gary Lichtenstein. I believe a few of my other collages were also selected by Julian Dawes and Nicholas Cinque.
JM: It seem like you are a big fan of the culinary arts. There are some Titans in this show. If you had to pick a favorite, who would it be and why?
RM: I can’t say I have a favorite but I certainly look forward to the opportunity of dining in many of the restaurants of the chefs who are participating in this culinary event.
JM: How did you settle on your style of painting/mixed media?
Early on, I settled on collage because I had such a small space in which to work. Collage can easily be done at the dining room table. [note that Richard laughed when he said this]
JM: Can you talk about your process?
RM: In recent years I have begun working with encaustic paint – I’ve adopted new process, as a result, since in addition to using it in collage work, I am incorporating silkscreen and I also happen to be painting with it. It’s a little like being in a kitchen, as a matter of fact. I have multiple stations set up – one for heating/melting the wax, coating the encaustic boards, coating collage material, painting and carving. Ironing is also a component of the process. It’s methodical but the possibilities are endless.
JM: What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work, whether it’s a building you designed or fine art?
I want a viewer to want to see other artists’ work and to expand his/her visual experiences.
JM: My friend lives in 173-175 Perry Street. It’s one of my favorite buildings in New York City and I used to enjoy going there to hang out. What are the biggest challenges and differences between making fine art and architecture?
RM: Architecture is about space that you move through, live in and interact with. It’s also very much about both human scale and context. Fine art can be created at any scale with any medium, related or not related to human experience and purely visual.
JM: Why is white so important to you? Do you find that this also applies to your art and not just your architecture?
RM: White is all colors. White allows you to appreciate all of the colors around you every day. White refracts and reflects the color in nature. Am I using it overwhelmingly within my artwork? No. You’ll be surprised.
JM: Your artwork in this show deals a lot with the mixture of colors with words and the rearrangement of them to create new images and ideas. Is there a cohesive sentence or hidden message in the work or is it a free association of new ideas, colors, and words to create something else?
RM: There is no hidden meaning. As Frank Stella says, “What you see is what you get.”
JM: I would love to see more wonderful pieces. Do you have any other shows coming up?
RM: Yes, I have a solo exhibition opening here at Sotheby’s S2 Gallery on February 28th. It runs through March 31st.