I read in a National Geographic article recently about a theory being advanced on how cave pictographs might have helped frame the advance of human language. And when I thought about it, it came to mind that Bill Barminski’s various media expressions are a kind of language. Barminski’s work communicates on a commonality we all share with humor and insights. Barminski’s work is relatable and offers content that helps us question point of views or pinpoints in a clever manner a very specific idea, where we are tempted to ask “Why?”
During the opening preview I had a moment with Barminski at Castelli Art Space last night to ask a few questions about his work, his artistic motivations of his two-night Pop-up retrospective. It proved enlightening and fun in a very conversational way.
LA Beat: I was wondering what is it about now, juxtaposed against then your artistic vision, that may have changed?
Barminski: I’m trying to process the question … I mean, for me the impulse is still the same. I have this need, desire to make stuff. It’s always been my ethos, so I’d say it very similar now. I’m seeing work I haven’t seen in a long time. I’m doing things now for the same reasons I’m doing stuff now. You know, dig away at your own psyche.
LA Beat: Now you’re a teacher at UCLA. What do you see there? Do you try to communicate those sensibilities to the students or is it more like a structured presentation about art?
Barminski: I definitely try to communicate to them the notion that they need to produce work. Don’t get something, half finished, curl it up in a ball, and throw it away. Finish it and show it to people. You have to do that in order to progress.
LA Beat: Is this exhibition a springboard to something else or for the joy of the exhibition?
Barminski: This show is from a friend of mine who produced my first couple of shows back in the early 80’s. He wanted to do this. He asked me ‘Can I do this?’ and I said ‘Sure! Yep, that’ll be fun!’
LA Beat: Is the work for sale?
Barminski: Some of the work is on loan and some of the work is for sale. A lot of the early stuff is owned by people. Yeah, selling t-shirts …
LA Beat: Also, how was it? Did you work with Banksy or you were invited to do your work—however that worked?
Barminski: I was just getting an email asking to do a security checkpoint at Dismaland. Sure, why not!
LA Beat: Did you construct it here or did you go there to construct it?
Barminski: All the small bit and pieces were made here. Then we went there and did an install, in like, a week. We did all the larger pieces you wouldn’t want to ship.
LA Beat: Did you actually meet Banksy? Is he still elusive?
Barminski: Nah … I get an email from somebody and I don’t know if that’s who’s it is. I might have met him but nobody introduced him as ‘him’ to me. So you never know.
The Bill Barminski Retrospective Pop-up will be at Castelli Art Space will be tonight, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 and Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.