top of page

Justin Bower: A Satellite of Direction

In conversation with LA-based artist Justin Bower. 

1. The first thing I want to ask you is: Art and The Existence of Content, what does that mean for your work?

I know I have at least a broad sense of what content I want to explore in my work. As for the “existence of content” inherently in the work, might be an entirely different question. Of course, I think this inherent content slips and slides in a time/site-specific arena. I can only answer for what my motives are and how I find the form within these parameters. At the base of it all, I contemporaneously study subjectivity. And as of late, I have found that within this new subjectivity, I paint what frightens me. This includes an internalization of technology infecting the body, and with this, an ideology always follows, breaching the centered self of what we’ve come to recognize as Enlightenment values. I would not say I focus on a dystopian future either, but I make images that resonate today, perhaps images that would not make sense in any other past time. The form follows in the wake of this phobia, from the simple ideas I’ve picked up within this massively changing horizon as it pertains to being human.

2. Is Art an imitation of reality for you?

No, it is not. But, it can have degrees of certain conditions of reality. Without removal of exact imitation, then we wouldn’t know if we were living in a holographic universe or not (or what was art and what was banality). There are “entry” points I enjoy using that seem to resonate in viewers a reality, but then I intend on twisting the instinct of completely knowing what this is. In my work, the figure is in a state of entropy and/or becoming a new, depending on how one receives the painting. It’s an incompletion to another mode of being.

3. A true Artist?

Not a clue.

4. I find the repetition in your work quite beautiful, The figurative subject attractive and seems always to be of the same person, is this intended?

I have several subjects I delve into nowadays with many versions of the same subject. I did, however, start my project with one subject interpreted ad-nauseam to a breaking point. This was my first solo show at ACE Gallery, LA. It was an anonymous subject found on the internet that had to be androgynous, living in a liminal state of virtual/real, male/female, human/humanoid, etc. Eventually, I did over 50 versions. I do many versions of one subject in a post-human Warholian sort of discourse. In me, there is an anxiety over the instability of infinite origin in the makeup of subjectivity. With the proliferation and complexity of many selves (be it virtual, fractured identities or the actual cloning or harvesting of organs today) to be a unique individual has eroded and splintered with fantastic speed. It’s an exercise in obscuring an “original” all the while entering into a discursive conversation about the cornerstones of what our definition of humanity is.

5. Francis Bacon stated: "You want accuracy, but not representation. If you know how to make the figuration, it doesn’t work. Anything you can make, you make by accident. In painting, you have to know what you do, not how, when you do it." How might this apply to your work? If in fact, it applies at all?

This applies to my practice in that the “what to do” implies a conversation with the accident in the mark-making of a painting. The decisions at the time are not “how” but what to do in regards to other marks. It becomes a small conversation within the overall meta-narrative of the painting. I call it “moves”, which “moves” to make with regards to previous thought out decisions. It is an instinct mixed with some intellectual perspective.

6. How has art defined you as a philosophical man?

First of all, Art has defined me as a craftsman (I make things out of nothing), a man that’s developed a trade-in cultural resonating creations within a rich history of other people who have done the same. I’m not a philosophical man, but a man who uses philosophy as a satellite of direction.

7. The German philosopher Theodor Adorno quoted: “Art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth." What does this mean for you?

A work of art revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you inhabit its world. It represents more and less than a simulacrum of reality (a painting of a reality). It is always connected to the values relative to the value maker, has a manifold of possible meanings, is usually inevitably a product of a specific time in history and culture. And that being the case, will eventually be within a shifting contemporary context, and thus be continually reinterpreted and revalued within different times and cultures.

8. What do you want the viewer to take from your work? Do you feel people understand your work?

Some do, to a certain extent, some have their ideas about it. I aim to make images that resonate non-verbally within the culture today.

9. Ontological problems (or arguments), Do works of art exist?

Of course, they do. It just might be that the set of concepts and categories in art change in their properties and the relation between them. For example, Wade Guyton is a good example of a kind of new ontology in art. Emerging from large data sets printed through a machine designed for perfection and reveling in its glitches and imperfections.

10. Art is important because?

It might not be. But then why “be” at all.

Interview source:


JM Art Management

127 views0 comments


bottom of page