Guy Vording: Black Pages III: They Assure Satisfaction

Guy Vording

Artwork’s Title: Black Pages III: They assure satisfaction (2019)

Materials Used: Watercolor pencil on paper

Studio Based: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Guy Vording BP III - They assure satisfaction 2019
Guy Vording, Black Pages III, They assure satisfaction, Watercolor pencil on paper, 2019

Can you tell us about the process of making your work? 

A big and important part of my work is collecting the right materials. Old newspapers, magazines and books are the base of my work so without them I can’t do anything. I’ve been collecting these materials for a long time: at markets, old bookstores, thrift stores, auctions, garages sales, etc. My studio is filled with books and magazines because you can never have enough. At the moment I’m mostly focusing on American magazines from the last 40’s / early 50’s.

On the days I’m working in my studio I’m going through the collected materials and I keep looking for something I feel attracted to. More often that’s a title, a phrase or a quote on a page, but sometimes it’s a photo. From the moment I start working in my studio I’m not sure what I’m looking for. My subjects are always in the back of my mind, they become a part of the process. But I can’t start looking for them in a very focused way. Then you’ll never find them. Your eyes fall on a page and from that moment you start creating, leave things out and make decisions.

Because most pages are so rare I can’t allow myself to make too many mistakes, so making the right choices takes a lot of time.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Narrative. Ironic. Hiding.

Would you use another three different words to describe the(title) painting?

The line of text in my work is always the title of my work, so I would say: no.

How did you come up with this ‘painting’ idea? Is there any story behind this painting?

For some reason I’m obsessed with the (American) 50’s at the moment. I’ve been collecting a lot of books, have been watching a lot of series and movies from (or about) this period of time. At the same time I was searching for a way to bring color into my work so, these components came together in this piece. Like every Black Page I’m not starting to work with a very specific idea in mind, but I do have ‘my’ themes. It slowly grows and when I look back at the process it all made sense. This Black Page was created the same way.

What colour is used the most in this painting?


What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

Difficult question. I’m always looking for a new way to exhibit my work. But I prefer to show my work not framed, as fragile as possible, in a space that’s not too big. My Black Pages are pretty intimate and I feel that the place has to have the same atmosphere.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

There is Dutch artist named Bas-Jan Ader and from day one I started my Bachelor Fine Art I was extremely impressed by his work. Also Eva Hesse, Ellen Gallagher, William Kentridge, Kensuke Koike, Marcel Broodthaers. Koen Hausers latest work is also very impressive.

How do you know when this painting was finished? 

Two reasons. The first one is a gut feeling. You know it’s finished because it’s finished. The Black Page had to tell the story I want to tell but no too much at the same time. The other reason is more practical: An important part is that I’m working with paper and paper can only handle a certain amount of acts. If I would have continued working on this piece the paper probably would’ve become too fragile. So from the beginning till the end I have to make very convincing decisions with, at the same time, the certainty that the message I want to tell will be visible in my work.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

The last 5 years I moved seven times from studio. From the most gorgeous places in the city of Amsterdam to some horrible shacks in the suburbs. It’s difficult to find a good and affordable place over here. I finally found a permanent studio in the centre of Amsterdam and that’s all I wanted. I need the peace and stillness and knowing I can stay for a long time.

My studio is not that big but it has two levels. The second level is used as storage area  and the first floor is where I work. I’m pretty organized and everything has its place. The moment an exhibition is coming it can be a bit chaotic but as soon as possible I’ll bring everything back to its place.

Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this painting? 

It’s not something I do on purpose, but I do use a lot of social themes. Because it’s something I put in my work by accident I don’t see it as a message I want to tell but I do like it when people see it.

There are more subjects in my work that are not directly visible. For example loneliness, losing control, seen and being seen.

It also happens quite often that people don’t feel attracted to the Black Pages the first time they see them. Mostly because it’s really deep black and the story I’m showing feels ‘heavy’. But the moment people keep looking they often start to laugh. They understand the humor in it and can see behind the darkness.

What does your mum think about your art?

This question I never asked her this literally.

Which exhibition did you visit last?

Gallery season in Amsterdam started last week so I’ve seen a lot of exhibitions at galleries. The last exhibition I saw at the museum must have been Alex Prager at FOAM.

Which are your plans for the near future? 

I’ve been working towards my solo-exhibition for the last year and a half. It opened last week so my mind is still set on that. Even though I’m preparing an exhibition in Brugge (Belgium) next month.

At the same time I’m working on a book of my Black Pages (Thank you só much, it was awful 2014-2019). If everything goes according to plan I will publish it at the end of 2019/ beginning 2020.

Additional Works

Guy Vording, Black Pages III, Become dull or lifeless, Watercolor pencil on paper, 2019
Guy Vording, Black Pages III, Settles Down For Long Lone Stay, Watercolor pencil on paper, 2019
Black Pages III - 50 years is relatively young 2019
Guy Vording, Black Pages III, 50 years is relatively young, Watercolor pencil on paper, 2019

©All images are courtesy of the artist

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