Paul Lorenz – Artist

Paul Lorenz Lives in Paducah, Kentucky, though he is originally from Chicago. Paul is represented by a few galleries: Homey Gallery, Chicago’ Gallery IMA, Seattle; Sande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia . Since he was a small child he has been making art, but professionally for about the last 25 years. You can find more info at His Artist statement reads… “Abstraction is not a style, but a state of mind… a way of thinking about action and circumstance, confidence and risk-taking, boldness and subtlety.”


Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I am director for the River’s Edge International Film Festival… I like film and working in a festival atmosphere.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
oil on canvas and panel; water based media on panel; Bauhaus inspired graphite drawings.

How do you describe your work?
My work is definitely abstract with process more important than image. The image evolves from visual, chemical and physical properties.


What are you currently working on?
I just finished a series of paintings for a solo exhibition at Homey Gallery, which opens on March 26. I also completed a series of graphite, graphite and oil, and graphite and casein drawings… I am not sure what their future will be.

What fascinates you?

Chance… coldness… darkness… ink… Lars von Trier and Peter Greenaway.

One statement to describe your current works?

Confident manipulation of chance.

Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.
A mark leads to a color, which leads to a space. A line leads to another line, which forms a plane, that may or may not cover space. The spaces combine, through tool and media, and a new vista is created. The combinations are limitless, though the growth follows a logic and rhythm. The result carries visual threads that lead our eye from one moment to the next. What similarities are born in a minute a day or in weeks of progress?


Why are you an artist?
Art allows my mind to resolve questions.

How did you get into art?
I have always been drawing or painting since I was a small child… but working with oil paint in high school was the moment of no return.

How important is art for you?
It is pretty much everything I think about, and pretty much the biggest thing that guides my life.

Your art education was…
Studying Bauhaus architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology on Chicago… the most profound influence on me. Studying painting was about seeking the right instructors no matter where they happened to be. I studied painting at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the International School of Art in Italy (with Nicolas Carone and Irving Petlin) and at the University of California, Berkeley.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Studying architecture was the most important… you learn logic… and a way of understanding techniques that make them integral to your life, not just tricks.


What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I studied architecture and worked as an architect for 15 years before quitting and devoting my time to painting and drawing.

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I have been fortunate to have numerous high points. The most gratifying was getting a commission for a painting on permanent display in New York City at Rockefeller Plaza. It was the largest painting I have ever tackled (4’-6” x 16’) and it was an honor to be given the commission. You can see it in the first flor lobby at 45 Rockefeller Plaza.

What or who inspires your art?
Architecture inspires me the most, though you may not guess that from my work. There is no sentiment in great architecture, like great painting, just the pure understanding of space, construction and composition.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Work is always evolving… working in oil, graphite or water based media, working on panel, canvas or paper… I find I need a balance between everything to keep things fresh and the process moving forward.


Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Getting started is very easy and adventurous… completing things is the challenge… knowing when to stop, knowing when you have said enough with out beating the point to death.

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
They do…and when you are in the midst of a wave, you just have to work until the feeling is over.

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
‘Art’ is very complex…like ‘medicine’. When I talk about ‘art’ I am always referring to fine art…not children’s art, student art, arts and crafts, crafts, art fair art, etc. Each has its own set of criteria. Fine art challenges the viewer, has a direct concept being explored and allows the confidence of the artist to be seen.


Does the sale of your work support you?
The sale of my work does support me, and I am very fortunate for that. I also teach through the cyber campus of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in their MFA program.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
I live in an arts community in Paducah Kentucky… I see he artists all the time.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
I have a solo exhibition coming up in Chicago, opening on March 26 at Homey Gallery, plus numerous group exhibitions in Europe.


Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
It takes a lot of dedication to keep your ideas fresh and alive so that the work continues to grow and entice. Art is a portrait of your soul and it is exhausting always having to be on the edge to make it happen.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
Kazuo Shiraga for his dedication, risk and energy. Mies van der Rohe for his idealism, aesthetic and logic.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I have a journal where I map out the direction of new works and keep images of things that inspire me…architecture, furniture, quotes, etc.


What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
They are simply not complete… and they continue.

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?
Be honest with your media, your marks and your structure… and always search for surprise.

Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?
Stravinsky, Takemitsu… Throbbing Gristle, Social Distortion… Italian pop… everything depends upon my mood when I walk into the studio… yes, the art is definitely effected.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I create a series of moments and the viewer has the chance to be involved with the outcome or not…I spell out as little as possible.

Art is about entertainment, experiment, inventiveness or shock for you?
All four, though ‘shock’ is a strong word… I think ‘surprise’ may be better. I want the materials to entertain me, I like having that kind of engagement with media, tools, etc. Everything is an experiment… some things done with abandon, others with more control and insight. Inventiveness is something that develops with knowledge… the more you work, the more you know, the more inventive you can be. If I am not surprised, then the work is not done and I have to continue…until I am surprised…

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
Definitely… but I am not sure what could replace it.

You know you have “made it as an artist” when…
I have something hanging in MOMA in New York.

Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?
I had moved to California and was living in Berkeley. A new gallery was opening in San Francisco and they were looking for new artists. I sent a portfolio, had an interview and they took a chance and represented me. It was a great time of growth and polish for me. I stayed with them for nine years, even after relocating to Kentucky.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
Being and artists and the ‘business of art’ are two different things and need to be looked at as such. When I am working in the studio, I am focused on the fun and challenge of working with color and media. I do not let business get in the way. When all is said and done, I then take the marketing of this work very seriously and try to find the appropriate venues, it’s an evolving challenge.

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?
The work is a reflection of a moment in time. Some things stay strong and viable, others do not hold their strength. In either case, the moment they captured was real and part of me, and for that they have value and deserve to be seen.

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?

Leaving California for Kentucky allowed me to design and build my own studio. It has light, space and a clean gallery space for viewing finished work. I have to admit, I am out growing it, but that is hardly worth complaining over.

Otto Dix the German artist said (in part)… “All art is exorcism…” Is that the case for you? If so how…
I think we all have things inside of us needing to come out… Working in the studio is the perfect haven for the demons and the angels.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
I hope that occurs. From what others have told me, it does. I think the strongest works are the ones that draw us back over many years to discover new meanings.

Some artists are more “at home” isolated in their creative process, while others revel in being part of a group to bounce “ideas off” how about you?
I have been in both situations, and I think humans need both. W need the time of solitude to find our voices and play without boundaries, but we then need the energy of others to propel ideas, create new dialogs. One without the other leaves us broken in a way.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
We all want to be successful artists… It is just a very tough business. So many factors lead to success and many are out of our hands. All we can do is just keep creating the most profound work that we can.

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
We are all working at a specific moment in time. That time is reflected by the society we live in, our education and our curiosity. History is very important because it gauges ideas and is a refuge for determining strengths and weaknesses in our work.

Are there times of the day when you prefer to do your work?
Morning… definitely.

Have you won any awards?
A few, which is always gratifying? 2009: Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy: Citta de Firenze Medal. 2005: Kentucky National Biennial, third place winner. 2001: Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy: Fifth Place Medal, Painting

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility?
Having a presence on the internet is important. I have my own website and post images on other art sites. The internet is good for communication but nothing takes the place of real human interaction.

How do you continue to grow, or is this not important?
Stay curious, try new things, never forget your roots and your personal integrity.

Here are a bunch of statements you can respond to any way you want. Go for the first thing that comes into your mind, or not…

Sociable and out there, or withdrawn or intense?
Sociable out of the studio, intense in the studio.

Tough and resilient, soft and fragile?
Resilient when dealing with art business… never fragile.

Logic and clarity or creative and messy?
There is a time for logic and a time for being messy… just not at the same time.

Small and intimate or large and bold?
Both… depends on mood and time between those opposing ideas.

Security or insecurity?
Secure in being curious and taking risks, which may seem like insecurity.

Feel the art and hear the image…
live the moment.

The world is…
large and full of possibilities.

Creativity muscle building…
More like brain building.

Delicate and subtle, strong and bold?
There is a time for both and we need to be sensitive and open when the time is right.

Intellect or careless casual connections…
Intellect starts most things, but we have to allow ourselves time for play…

Critics are important because?
Someone should say something about your work who is not a relative…

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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2 Responses to “Paul Lorenz – Artist”

  1. Exhibition : Art Re-Source on June 26th, 2010 9:31 am

    […] Including the wonderful abstract work of Paul Lorenz we interviewed him here… […]

  2. KERRIE WARREN on June 26th, 2010 3:12 pm

    Paul, I just love your work! I found this interview most inspiring and resonated with your comments. All the best and thank you, Kerrie Warren ‘Abstract Expressionist’ Australia