An interview with the talented and award winning contemporary fine artist, Arrington Magny!
Introducing Arrington Mangy
Arrington Magny is an American abstract painter born in Mississippi. She had an affinity for the arts from a very young age and won several awards as a child and adolescent. In 2003, Magny began her formal study of the arts in Mississippi, continuing to further training in Colorado and California in the US, then Australia, France and Italy.
Magny has exhibited her paintings across the US, in Europe and Asia. She has won numerous awards and been featured in international magazines such as Home and Garden UK and Condé Nast World of Interiors.
In recent years Magny has lived in Florida and Mississippi in the US, Guatemala and France. Living between cultures and countries contributes to the breadth of experiences synthesized in her layered compositions.
Magny paints primarily on canvas, using a wide range of materials: charcoals, pastels, oil and acrylic paints, ink, plaster, sand, earth. The physical layers of these materials form a manipulated surface, which through a sort of excavation process of creation and destruction, images become unearthed. The subsequent works are driven more by intuition than observation, the process more a feeling than a knowing.
Hi! Great to have you! When did you start making art? And what does art offer you?
How long have I been an artist? Since the day I was born! In my father’s office hang drawings and paintings I created as a very young child; the attic is full of all sorts of creations - photographs, sculpture experiments, paintings, journals full of sketches and poetry. From the beginning, for me, making art is a natural impulse, not a choice. It is my passion.
My path towards art making as a vocation was certainly not linear. As one profoundly curious by nature, it was never easy to settle on a single subject of study. Thus, my formal study of the arts is multidisciplinary, spread and sprinkled over time and space.
What is latest series and the story behind it?
My upcoming exhibition is this April at Galerie B.O.A. in Paris. The show is called Nostos: the neverending journey, and the opening night is Thursday the 5th of April.
Nostos. In short, it is the return home. The desire to return. Like Ulysses, it alludes to an epic homecoming by the sea, a voyage of heroism and grandeur, full of temptation and suffering, where nothing is simple and we often lose our way.
Like nostalgia, it’s a sort of longing for home and yearning for return, but nostos is something else. It’s a word - an idea - of greater amplitude and full of connotations. Nostos brings together wandering and return, exile and homeland, the quest for elsewhere and the putting down of roots.
Nostos is simultaneously exile and return, to a physical place, to a place deep within ourselves. It is the impossible return, and the possible. It is the very desire for return - cyclical, circular - like samsara, or the reflections of Zarathustra.
Nostos is the quest for our own terroir, our roots, even if this place does not exist or no longer exists. It is therefore the pain experienced when we yearn to return home, or even to find at home, and the journey is difficult or impossible.
It forces us to become aware of the paradoxes that are our reality; to be aware of both the possibilities and the limits. Like yin and yang, the essence of one is at the heart of the other.
It’s physical, philosophical and psychological. It’s a contradiction. It’s a beautiful journey.
In the paintings are nautical references: small boats, clouds, storms; general allusions to the topos of nostos. There are also words, lines of poetry, and circles within circles, as references to the universal, philosophical concepts, as well as rudimentary sketches of specific places intimating my own personal nostos.
What are some of your favorite artist tools?
What inspires you and how does it impact your style and method of painting?
The best word I have found to describe what I paint, how I paint, why I paint - is instinct. I often come to a blank canvas with no idea where the painting will take me, where it will go. This approach is well-suited to my process of rigorous layering. I begin each painting with a layer of plaster, which I apply with a palette knife, make markings, scribblings, etc. and allow to set. This step is the recursive initiation between artist and artwork; akin to that first word on a blank page. Even if the direction of the painting is a complete mystery to me at this point, my foot is in the door. The next several layers are a sort of brainstorming, a sketching out of ideas, thoughts, cognitive wanderings. I scribble prayers and lines of poetry, sketch images more closely resembling rudimentary cave paintings or a child’s imaginative drawings than articulate renderings. As the layers progress, the process of deconstruction and reconstruction continues, while shapes and forms begin to appear (and disappear). A point comes when I find something to hold onto in the painting, and begin to visualize the direction in which I would like to steer the composition. At the same time, there is often an outside source of inspiration. It could be an unexpected interaction with a stranger, a burst of emotion, a song, a poem, something I read or hear, a sunset, a memory, a moment, an idea - in short, it can be anything! Whatever ‘it’ is, I try to grasp the essence of it - that ‘something’ that makes you say, “ahh” or “ah ha!”; that something that makes you cringe or smile or puts a knot in your stomach. This essence is what I aspire to translate into the painting. It is more a feeling than a knowing.
In both the process and content of my art, I am interested in the layering not only of physical materials, but of time, space and memory, of painting and drawing, and of multifarious associations and meanings. The content of my work is frequently ambiguous. It is a quest for beauty, a search for meaning, for connections between everything; each painting is a visual record of these inquisitions.
For the viewer, I aspire to create an alternative resting place for your gaze; one that is a contrast to, or perhaps a repose from, the often exhausting world in which we exist, which can be so fast and so loud, lacking tenderness and shame, filled with violence, oppression, exploitation, vanity and displacement.
In brief, I would much rather whisper sincerely to you, than to scream.
What are some pieces of advice you have for other artists?
Be thankful! It is a privilege to have the opportunity, the time and the means for creative expression.