with October/November 2006 Art feature: Fritz Kappler
SEMANTIKON: Since your October 2006 feature,
you've finished work on the “Mouth
Opera” series, you have continued work on “Indica”
and you've been busy working on getting a solo show of new
work together which you would also like to feature the completed
birthday party series, “Zooo”, “Blooom”
and an expanded collection of interchangeable
heads which were featured including “Frogface”
Face”. Share a bit about what’s been going
on since your feature.
FRITZ KAPPLER: Several of the pictures featured
were quite embryonic at the time they were published on semantikon.The
work is much more developed now, has more depth. The pieces
are closer to what they want to be - they are starting to
walk on their own, if you will. Decisions have been made regarding
color, application of paint, format etc. You know, my work
sometimes takes a while to become clear to me, between that
initial inspirational moment and resolution. I realize now
that it takes a while for me to really understand what I think
I see in my head. As I work it begins to work itself out and
I am often surprised, as in my best work, that there is more
there than I thought. The roughs have become paintings.
SEMANTIKON: Your work features characters,
and thematic repeated over many media, on the topic of repetition,
you have said that at some point, the subject of your works
become their own source material?
FRITZ KAPPLER: One idea probably just leads
to another. In my case this usually involves certain figures
moving from one piece to the next. I guess I like them, they
become familiar or they’re handy, whatever. I know them.
And, naturally, as each piece I do is a little different from
the one before- the format, the context or the overall style
of the work will be different - the figures begin to refer
to the figures immediately before them which refer to the
one before that etc., rather than the original reference.
What happens is I start off by relating quite closely to the
initial idea with intention as to its meaning and symbolism
and gradually, as I work with it, it becomes absorbed into
my visual language. What’s funny is I just have no idea
this absorbtion is happening as it's happening. I very, very
rarely set out to make a “series”. And yet almost
every thing I do turns is a series or at least features repetitious
figures and imagery. Why do some particular figures endure
rather than others? I don’t know. So much of what I
do is unconscious. I’m actually thinking about doing
some stuff with no repeating figures. I wonder what will happen.
SEMANTIKON: Related to repetition, the sunburst
collared figure in the work “Blooom”,
discuss where the Blooom figure began and how it continues?
FRITZ KAPPLER: That is a perfect example
of what we were just discussing. Visually, the “Bloom
Baby” was born sometime back in the last part of the
19th century on the side of some baking product or something.
The missus had one of those calendars that had reproductions
of weird Victorian graphics and things: advertising, greeting
cards, toys, etc. And once I saw these things, of course,
I wanted to incorporate that weirdness into my work because
they just embodied so much of the stuff I love - anyway, I
referred to some of these graphics in “A
Magic Day Coloring Book” including the Blooom Baby.
Since that time he’s popped up many, many times: on
paper, canvas, wood, cardboard, I think even an ice sculpture,
I can’t remember. That’s him in “Games
For May”, “Mantra”,
in blackface for “Blackberries”
and a couple others. He’s currently out of the country
and isn’t returning my phone calls.
SEMANTIKON: You have discussed how people
have approached the works dealing with children, that there
is some suspicion of you for using them as a subject matter.
No doubt this is an ironic attitude, you being a father of
three children, also, minding that renaissance works featured
images of a nude baby Jesus on one breast of Mary, featuring,
on the other breast, a saint. Can you discuss your experience
with this sort of response to your works? Dealing with such
FRITZ KAPPLER: I understand where it comes
from, but that’s implying that any art form depicting
of children is somehow inherently lascivious. It is tricky
in this day and age. Maybe I’m missing something, but
I really don’t see anything like that when I look at
my work. Most
of the faces belong to my kids for chrissakes. Of course
those attitudes say far more about those people and their
hang ups than they do about me. I don’t think they’d
say that stuff about a woman artist either, I’m a man
and I guess it just comes with the territory. Balthus ruined
it for all of us, hur hur.
SEMANTIKON: In our audio introduction, we
discussed the creation of the “Mouth
Opera”, its basis, in part, in the discussions people
had about how you made mouths in your works. In contrast,
another series, variations from “A
Magic Day Coloring Book ( 1.4MB PDF) ” figures were
cut into Lucite en masse, but being brittle, and not responded
to, were archived. What can you tell us about the differences
between these two series of works, their history, completion,
FRITZ KAPPLER: The second series you’re
referring to features The Blooom Figure too, actually and
was sort of the grandchild of Blooom itself , a sort of iconographic
byproduct that was probably the final manifestation of that
particular idea. I managed to complete one lovely image, very
slick and pristine, but the others are boxed, unassembled.
They could still be completed quite quickly, it’s all
there, ready to go... I think at the time I was not getting
a lot of love and that idea was filled with so much baggage
at that point for me, just moving on to something else seemed
sensible. The difference is, the “Mouth
Opera” is much closer to that initial idea moment
I talked about earlier.
SEMANTIKON: In our audio introduction, we
discussed how the works such as those found
in “Frogface” and “Bunnyface” are
meant to be mixed and matched by the audience. Would you
say that this possibility of the work, reflects your sense
of how a narrative develops around a work once it leaves your
hands, once people can approach it in the public domain, as
it moves through the gallery system, is carried into published
FRITZ KAPPLER: Yes. Just putting those images
up on Semantikon opened them up to a degree. I think you have
to expect people to engage and interact differently to your
work that you do. This mixing and matching lets them have
a small say in what they interact with. As for the
“audience” I have no idea who that really is,
I think it’s suicide artistically to worry about.
SEMANTIKON: In our discussions, you've mentioned
that the first painting you sold was one of your favorites.
Could you discuss that work, how it enters your mind from
time to time, and your thoughts on where it is at, who has
FRITZ KAPPLER: The piece was called “Death
and Transfiguration” and I think we were discussing
it in the context of the public square and the concept of
ownership of the work once it’s out there. Some pieces
you can’t wait to see the backside of, sort of “How
can I miss you if you won’t leave?”, the others
are a little bit harder to say goodbye to, kind of like relationships
I guess. That was an early piece where I thought I’d
nailed something, got somewhere. Every artist has a piece
like that I think, where you go “Oh, that’s what
I’m supposed to be doing”. It really sets the
stage for some other important work for me, and someone out
there had the good taste to pick up on it. Though honestly,
I hadn’t even thought about it for ages. I believe it’s
hanging in some diner in the Utah desert.
SEMANTIKON: You’ve recently been considering
a move from Central-Ohio, having moved around and lived many
places, what have been your experiences with the Midwest arts
community, the time and attention paid to the works. Showings,
Sales, grants and studio visits?
FRITZ KAPPLER: My experiences in Columbus
Ohio, art-wise, have been really good. There are lots of opportunities
to show work from what I can tell, and, there are some good
people. As an artist, I’d never eat on local sales.
SEMANTIKON: About the evolution of a work;
variants of the “Blooom” figures from the “A
Magic Day Coloring Book” appeared in a folio, figures
of each put together in poses, pieces and parts of there bodies
juxtaposed, cut off, and wrong sided. You said of the work,
it was like a book for which the instruction manual had been
lost. That it was in hindsight, a piece about space, where
you end and begin in it. Could you elaborate on this lost
instruction manual, the edges of the works as you made then
versus how you see them now?
FRITZ KAPPLER: I think content-wise, that
instead of the instruction manual being lost, it’s being
discovered within the work. The piece is about the process
of becoming cognitive of yourself and your environment. As
an object that viewers would interact with, it certainly would
be helpful to have provided a manual.
SEMANTIKON: We have discussed a physical
process with your works, how, the work moves from page to
wood, resins, laminates etc. Could you encapsulate the process
of creating a work in terms of the physical nature of moving
from sketch to tracings and impositions, them cutting wood,
gluing, varnishing etc.
FRITZ KAPPLER: The process of the physical
construction of my work is so random it would be very hard
to describe any process as typical. Usually I think the best
works are those where the medium really enhances the imagery.
Not everything needs to be made on a rectangular piece of
cloth. It might be interesting to document the process more,
it could be very revealing.
SEMANTIKON: The work, “Mouth
Opera” found in the October 2006 feature was unfinished.
You have discussed that using tools like Photoshop, you were
able to be satisfied enough to let it go out. As you make
preparations for sending works out, you've also talked about
the use of new media technologies in delivering your works.
What role has media technologies in the creation, presentation,
the delivery of your works? What role do you see media technologies
playing future wise in your work, and in the arts?
FRITZ KAPPLER: I don’t use technology,
other than as another tool. I try not to separate media. Discussing
technology is boring as hell to me.