An Interview With Richard Fett



By Kate Nemeth

NYC-based artist Richard Fett paints scenes from the every day domestic landscape- Woman in nightdress, Man in work shirt, bed in shambles, television on, streets outside the window alive-and leaves you, the viewer, to fill in the blanks. Having never seen an episode of The Young and the Restless before, if you were to stop the reel midway and analyze the position of the protagonists you would find yourself asking, “What are they doing?” or maybe, “How did they get here?” Similarly, Fett’s work wonders what goes on in the silence of high-drama modern moments. What follows is Salon Ciel’s interview with the artist, introducing him and his work before the joint exhibition, with artist Jeff Britton, “Virtue and Vice” opens at Gallery Bar from April 27th-May 12th. Join us and the artists at 7PM on Wednesday May 1st for the opening reception.

Where are you from?
I’m a Navy brat, so I grew up in several cities around the world, but mostly landed in Florida.

How long have you been painting?
20 plus years.

How did painting become your chosen medium?

Easiest answer is I love to paint and draw.
Long answer is I levitate towards all things 2D. I try to synthesize elements of painting, photography, movies, movie posters, film stills, fashion photography, magazines… All these things motivate and excite me and I try to combine elements from them all with painted canvas or wood. If I had the time I would like to experiment with other disciplines.  I have done storyboards and production design for student films that helped inform the work.

Can you talk about the psychological elements of your work and the relationship between the subjects…
I like to set up domestic docudramas. I am fascinated by film stills. You use your imagination to guess what’s happening when you isolate a scene that obviously has a history and a future. That frozen moment of a narrative I find appealing. When I paint I like to think of several story lines while working on a composition. I want to present an open-ended narrative. Is this a domestic fight? Has this couple been giving one an other the silent treatment for days now? Sex? Anger? Hurt? I like putting scenes in domestic settings for the voyeur quality.

Some of the scenes remind me of Hitchcock films- Rear Window in particular.

Hitchcock is great. He was inspired by paintings. Usually I do not think of a particular movie but instead try to capture the mood of a movie. I do paint strictly horizontal so to mimic the screen.
What artists inspire the work?

I admire Edward Hopper, Cindy Sherman – Plus Old Masters like Vermeer, Botticelli and Van Eyck. I strive to emulate the smooth surface of the built-up glazes of a Northern Renaissance painting while keeping in mind the smooth glossy surface of a modern fashion magazine.

Where do you work?
During the day I work at the Whitney Museum of American Art where I get to “fondle” artist works like Edward Hopper, Paul Cadmus and Jared French (whom I greatly admire).

Where has some of your work been exhibited?

My first major venues were the Corcoran Museum and Gallery K both in Washington DC. Here in NYC was Allen Sheppard Gallery, unfortunately in 2009 he closed his doors.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I am reading David Hockney’s “Secret Knowledge” where he theorizes how artist used the camera lucida, camera obscure and lenses as tools to aid in the process of painting.

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