David Michalek discusses his life as an artist - interview
The multi-disciplinary artist reflects upon Bill Viola and trading art for baseball cards
This article is from 2012.
What was the first exhibition you went to see?
The first two contemporary art exhibitions that I went to see were at the Los Angeles MOCA. The first works we saw upon entering the museum were very large and impressive paintings by Anselm Keifer. But it was the video/sound installation, nestled into its own darkened room, that would have a lasting effect on me: ‘Room for Saint John of the Cross’, by Bill Viola.
What was your first paid job as an artist?
I was always the class ‘artist’, and beginning in about the second grade, I took to drawing portraits of my fellow classmates in exchange for things of theirs that I wanted, like a Farrah Fawcett notebook or baseball cards.
What kind of music do you listen to while you’re working?
All kinds. It depends on what I am doing and what my mood is.
What are the best things about opening nights?
Seeing my work for the first time as an audience member changes the way I relate to it in important ways.
Do you read reviews of your work?
Which living artist should be better known than they currently are?
One of my early mentors is the Los Angeles-based artist, John Malpede. John directs, performs and engineers multi-event arts projects that have theatrical, installation, public-art and education components. To this day, I think of him as one of the greatest artists that I have known.
What has been your career highlight to date?
I don’t like the idea of thinking about what I do as a career marked by glaring, substantial moments. I prefer to think of it as a vocation, and where the highlights can be found in certain small corners or slivers of daily practice.
What is your favourite work of art?
I don’t have a favourite.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust your own instincts.
David Michalek: Figure Studies & Slow Dancing, Summerhall, 0845 874 3001, 3 Aug–27 Sep, free.