I began making paintings of what was right in front of me, which was a chair in my studio. I thought that if I made paintings of this neutral subject matter over and over I might be able to explore the abstract, formal, and painterly issues I was interested in, while having clear visual parameters to look at and work from. During this time people would come in to visit and I would paint them into the paintings and then paint them out when they left. As I painted the people in and out I would notice the impact on the space their gestures had within the context of the painting, and the painting seemed to hold a clear history of the figures’ presences. Over time, the paintings became more dense with visual information and surface, some of the paintings becoming very thick. Using the paintings as something of a vessel for exploration over time allowed me to be more inventive with ways of painting while embracing the idea of destroying what I thought was cool in the painting. In other words, I became less precious with the paintings and as a result they got better.
Gideon Bok’s paintings explore interiors—the life of the mind and life inside. He paints movement, the comings and goings of his family, his friends, and himself. His paintings are tender, distracted, erotic. This work could be a portrait of his artistic process, the studio of his brain. A graduate of Hampshire College and Yale, Bok has, among other awards, received a Guggenheim grant. This year he was a visiting artist at the Maryland Institute College of Art, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He had a solo show at Steven Harvey Fine Art in New York, and was part of an exhibition curated by Matt Phillips in Brooklyn. His work is in public collections, including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Farnsworth Museum.