A Conversation with Peter Reginato
How has your work changed since your last exhibition ? One thing is the color. I began using silver and white paint. It is very exciting. I was able to darken the pieces without losing color. I also started using glazes again. Another difference you can see right away is that the pieces are denser. I feel it as visual density, shape supported by shape. They are darker and maybe more expressionistic. Self-portrait, for example, is different because it feels denser. There is a lot of anger in this piece. Most of my motivation comes from trying to express an idea often Iyrical or casual, but Self-portrait came out of a darker feeling, I even added teeth. Why do you paint your sculpture? To me, each shape is individual and should have a different color. Shapes have personalities. They all have names like pod, boat, whirly - gig, watermelon. Painting them helps free-up the structure and allows me to express myself more fully. Greene Street is an example. The sculpture has greater possibilities when using paint; it's more radical. Paint can be as lively as the shapes. How has your structure changed? Some sculptures like Happy Happy Joy Joy haven't changed much. Others, like Tristan, have a lower center of gravity. Sculptors are always fighting gravity. My concern is engineering, how do they stand. The illusion is that of casual placement. In some of my pieces, like You, I imagine taking a lot of shapes throwing them up in the air and freezing them in space. In others, like Surrender, the opposite is true. I've thrown them on the ground.

What determines the scale of your work?

The height of my ceiling! No really, I don't use preliminary drawings but I have a concept of a structure in mind. The scale has to do with the size of the shapes I make up. The relationship of those shapes to one another--the weight, the feel--determines how large the work will become. There is a human scale, an intimacy, even in the largest pieces.

Can you comment on who or what you feel has influenced your work?

Are you talking about influences or inspiration? That to me is how it happens. I look at something and if I like it, I get influenced by it. Sometimes that doesn't work. It goes in a different direction for reasons I'm not even sure of.

But have you felt directly influenced by an artist or a specific work of art?

There was an exhibition at the Guggenheim last year, "Picasso and the Age of Iron" in which there wasn't one artist that did not have some influence on me at some time. I would say that the one particular piece is Picasso's Woman in the Garden. Whenever I see that sculpture I can see so much of what I have done and tried to do. With David Smith, Calder, Gonzales, and the earlier Giacometti's, I remember looking at them and thinking about their sculptures, how great they are.

How do you perceive yourself in terms of your own generation ?

The "common wisdom" in the art world today suggests that in order to make an important statement an artist must take as much out as possible thereby creating something that is empty. I want to do the opposite. I want to make art as full as possible. The only thing I took out of my work was realism. I saw greater possibilities in abstraction. I believe that a new art will contain all the traditional elements--line, form, color, composition, drawing.

I want to leave behind work that is for every generation, no matter what the existing trends are, or the perceived opinion of good and bad. I would like to think that my work will be enjoyed, talked about and maybe even seen as vital to those times; I would like to think it will mean something to whoever is looking at it.

March 1, 1994

New York