It seems like your work begins either with a technical idea or a specific question. Is this true, and if so, what was the technical idea/question behind the installation at R&F?
Well, some of my projects start with an idea – the moiré drawings are an example, but often the prompt is a thing: vintage-typing paper received as a gift turned into a large group of moiré drawings. A friend's father’s antique drafting pen prompted a separate series of moiré drawings using a technique different from my previous method.
In the case of the larger installation at R&F, the prompt was finding a discarded book that was printed on nearly 200-year-old rag paper. The paper had a wonderful quality that seemed like it would work well with R&F’s Pigment Sticks®, and the existing letterpress text blocks provided a form of registration for creating multiple works that were sort of automatically related by virtue of all having essentially the same layout. The German text uses an outdated “Blackletter” font that, along with my overdrawing, removes any temptation to read the pages, so now it’s a picture book.
When the prompt is a technical interest, what drives or fuels your curiosity to pursue it?
I think it’s the other way around: curiosity drives the rest of it. I hear about a technique, or see a tool, or imagine building some kind of tool, and then see where it goes from there. Often, the answer is nowhere, but it starts a process of thinking and testing and trying to get something to work, and then refining that process to produce some kind of work.
Sometimes it’s a response to a certain material, say a particular paper (Oh, look: Yupo. Dead end.) or a drawing tool (Oh, look: water-soluble graphite. Nope, not for me.).
The wall with the painted book pages has nearly two hundred pieces, which represents about half the total project. There are still a few pages left from that book that aren't complete, which hints at the answer to the second question: that group will be complete when I run out of pages.
If you were forced to name the installation at R&F, do you have any names in mind?
I’ll make explicit what your question hints at: “Untitled” is my favorite title. Second choice would be a reference to the title of the book that the pages came from, except that it’s in German, and I can’t remember it. “Stuff that’s hard to read” came up in our discussion, and, while accurate, I don’t love it as a title for the installation. That said, I have other book-based works that would be easier to name because of some obvious connection, whereas for the installation at R&F, it was the quality of the paper, more than anything else, that led me to make the work. So how about “200 pages of 200-year-old paper, 100 colors of oil paint, and one laser-focused vision…..”
Do materials, process, ideas, and technical concerns have equal weight in your making?
The greatest weight would always be the things I’m unable to do, either through lack of skills, or resources, or even interest. You’re not likely to see any large-scale granite carvings any time soon. (No interest, takes too long, costs too much, storage a problem, etc.) You’re also not likely to see any large-scale 3D-printed or 3D-carved sculpture. (Very interested, costs too much, storage a problem, etc.)
After the negatives, there’s no hierarchy: sometimes an idea is first and everything else follows; sometimes a tool I just play with prompts a series of works. In the case of the book installation at R&F, the quality of the paper in a discarded book, along with R&F’s Pigment Sticks®, led to the work.
The small group of moiré drawings included in this show is not particularly strong. The gallery is, after all, about work in progress. The moiré drawings started with an idea, maybe more than ten years ago, and get made and remade in different materials and at different scales, using different techniques ever since. The pieces shown here were the result of coming up with a way to streamline the process of making them. It works, but not as well as I would like. More work to follow. I could just go back to doing them the hard way, but I know that works, so making more of them becomes a chore rather than a challenge. So I guess there always needs to be a measure of discovery as well as an aesthetically interesting end product.
Vincent's show is on view at R&F Handmade Paints, 84 Ten Broeck Avenue, Kingston, NY until Tuesday, 1/31/23. Hours are Monday - Friday fro 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
To find more on Vincent's work, please follow him on Instagram @vincentpidone and you can see more about the show with @rfpaints