LM: I’ve always known you as an individual intrigued by the innovations of modern technology, which range from printing possibilities to scientific advancement. What do you think about your painterly passion melding with the digital age?
FG: My current paintings amount to plays with space and light. I want to create pressures and contractions. I hope they’re not too irritating but I feel like it’s important to have these tensions; It gives me something to orchestrate, to manipulate with the colors. I’m reading about cosmology and quantum mechanics and it’s practically incomprehensible. When you read about it, it sounds really clear but when you think about it and the math involved, it’s a whole other dimension. What we assume is a vacuum in space is actually a series of constant eruptions of particles that come into being and disappear. Matter and anti-matter annihilate each other and disappear regularly. I was struck by this energized field, and thought it’d be interesting to play off of that in the background. Although it’d be great to see in total silence there is, more often than not, noise that you have to sort through before focusing in on anything. When I work on something I want to put it into context. I don’t just want to highlight the pure essence. I want to show what it came out of, what it relates to. These SigNatures are organization in the midst of what seems like chaos. We have to have our identity against everything else that’s going on, everything we see with an identity against everything else.
LM: What do you think your identity is as an artist right now?
FG: Although it was distressing, it rings true: Ivan Karp of OK Harris was notorious for making off-hand, really devastating remarks about work he saw. Nearly 25 years ago, I went to the gallery to get his opinion and he says, “not exactly avant-garde,” then handed my images back to me. I have to accept that what I’m working on is not at the cutting edge. I’m trying to do something as good as possible and push whatever I can do with painting to a interesting level by my own interpretation of it. Maybe I can add something to what painting is about, what art is about. I’m creating a language, my language. I haven’t come up with something that stakes out a whole new area in the art world like doing a blank canvas and having people’s shadow be the meaning of it or something like that.
LM: Your willingness to evolve as an artist shouldn’t be undermined, though. You can’t help but be informed and challenged by the perspective you’ve sharpened in your years of practice. You have a running dialogue that spans photo-realism, Minimalism, Abstraction, and even plein air painting. How many artists can say they’ve given themselves the freedom to develop their voice and styles so thoroughly?
FG: For me, that’s what’s sustaining. I like to look at what other people are doing. I’ve gone through a lot of different things and seen them develop, so I want to stake out my own territory for better or for worse and still be part of a community of artists. When I was a younger artist I wanted to be part of the Minimalists but my paintings weren’t quite there. I had a personal inflection and interpretation that I was putting into them, and they didn’t fit into the canon of art. I’ve come to accept that. That’s what Jackson Pollock did, and Alice Neel did that, and so forth. In painting, instead of controlling space, the ultimate is controlling time. You don’t have to read it linearly, you don’t have to look at it from beginning to end. You can see the whole thing. In working on something like this, how you move around it and the scale is the thing. That’s one way of painting. You can shape time because you can experience it instantly.
LM: Pure gratification by freezing time.
FG: In the last several years, I’ve been really interested in holography. If I could do this show in another form, I would love to do the initials in a hologram. When you look at a hologram transcript before it’s transmitted, you see a set of dots or patterns. The hologram itself happens at the center and it suggests it’s all defined in the edge. It’s not scientifically done, just the idea of that. If I really wanted to be far out I’d do sculpture that was based on brain imaging. I’m looking to find out as much as I can about the real world, experimentally, tangibly if you want to call it that. There are theories of the universe that what we’re living in is one large hologram.
LM: How do your immediate surroundings influence you at this point?
FG: I usually have all types of things up that I’m working on, and things I’ve worked on in the past. I look at the current series and it influences me but I also have some key things up as reminders of where I’ve been. I have a drawing up that embodies my first step from realism to abstraction, a transition from outside to inside the studio. I have a print-out of drawings I made in 1968 because I was working with this idea of patterns back then and couldn’t really break it off into something coherent. That’s influencing me to look back into it. Ivan Karp made another comment that really stuck with me, he said, “you can do whatever you want, just make the change gradual.”