Tucked in the lower levels of an old, non-descript factory building deep in the tired, industrial Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Jason Gringler’s studio glows through barred windows in the dusk light. The streets are nearly empty except for the 53-foot long 18-wheelers which rumble by at all hours and there is a palpable hard, isolated, lonely edge to the area. It’s the kind of place perfect for storing large quantities of chemicals or fabricating metal filings or making abstract art. The industrial, heavy manufacturing quality of this super-urban environment strongly informs Gringler’s large collage paintings which have been called “high-voltage”, “bold”, and “sharp and edgy” in published reviews of his exhibitions. The grey, graffiti’d walls and shards of leftover factory bits that are scattered on the street make their way into his machine-like, sentimental, framed structures. Made up of chunks of broken mirrors, Plexiglas, spray paint, and acrylic paint and often exposing the wooden structure and frame of the work itself, Gringler’s sometimes mean, always emotional, and outwardly aggressive works are beginning to be exhibited around the world. He has had solo shows in New York City, Vancouver and Toronto with Miami, Cologne and Munich being added to that list in 2009. An impressive and growing list of corporations and organizations, including BMO Financial Group and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have acquired some of his largest pieces. Jason graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2001 and was a finalist for the RBC Painting Competition in 2005. The dark, hard, aggressive stance of his work has found its strongest audience so far in Germany where Galerie Stefan Röpke has taken Gringler into their stable of artists. (All images shown here are courtesy of that gallery. Thank you!) This inquisition was conducted via email in July of 2009. For more information about Jason Gringler and his work, please check out his website at jasongringler.blogspot.com.
1. If you could be any kind of global superstar other than a visual artist, what kind would you want to be? (ie. baseball player, rock star, serial killer, politician…)
A film director, something collaborative.
2. Which historical epoch would you most like to have participated in? (ie. ancient Rome, revolutionary France, 1960s counterculture…)
The New York School or Neo Expressionism.
3. If given a choice for your next life, do you want to be a man or a woman? (as with all these questions, answering “why?” is optional)
I would like to remain a man.
4. Which 3 visual artists had the greatest influence on your career and work?
Three artists I love are Sterling Ruby, David Altmejd and Graham Gillmore.
5. Which 3 musicians’ music most closely resembles a soundtrack to your life?
Phillip Glass’ Glassworks, Glen Branca, and Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts.
6. If you could change one significant aspect of your talent, what would that be?
I would have developed it at an earlier stage in my life.
7. Assuming cost is no obstacle, which 3 cities would you most prefer to live in?
New York, London, Toronto.
8. Imagine you are driving on an open, gently curving highway with a guarantee of no police, no other drivers, and perfect weather conditions. What kind of car would you want to drive and how fast would you go?
A Dodge Charger and I would floor it, of course.
9. Which current global calamity would you fix with one all-powerful wish? (ie. global warming, HIV/AIDS, starvation, …)
10. If you were given $250,000 to spend on a new wardrobe by a single designer/brand, which would you choose?
Can I start my own line?
11. Do you like porn?
Yes, I do.
12. Would you star in a porn film if asked? Describe the scene you’d like to appear in if you want.
I may but I don’t think it would be very popular. It would have to be an indoor scene.
13. Do you believe the United States of America is getting better or worse?
Surprising presidential election. I would like to side with optimism.
14. Which museum would you most want to host your first post-mortem career survey?
15. What is your favorite film of all-time?
Right now I enjoy Jim Jarmusch’s “Down by Law”. Also “Tyson”, the recent documentary about the boxing champ.
16. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? (name the City too)
I have to admit my favorite restaurant is ‘Little India’ on Queen St. in Toronto. That place is a thing of beauty.
17. If you could live as one historical figure for one week, who would it be? (feel free to describe which week if relevant)
I would be you Randy, just for one sweet and memorable week. (Editor’s note: Jason, make sure you bring a helmet.)
18. What is the strangest material you’ve ever used in your art?
19. Have you ever hurt yourself making work?
Emotionally or physically?
20. Have you ever broken the law making your art?
21. What superpower would you find most useful? (flying, invisibility, indestructible… Feel free to answer why)
Internet connection in my brain.
22. Which adjective do you think best describes Hugh Hefner?
23. Have you ever been in a fist fight in which blood was spilled? (feel free to offer a brief description)
Yes, I have been in many fist fights, and there was blood, but probably my own and maybe I was 12.
24. Do you get road rage?
I am not a driver.
25. Do you inhale?
Many times daily.
26. Do you have any phobias? (feel free to explain which)
I have some issues, yes. Mainly with regard to sharks, my legs and my eyes.
27. Do you think it is better to ask for permission or beg for forgiveness?
I think I prefer permission.
28. If you were forced to spend one full year in solitary confinement in a small cell, what color would you want the walls to be?
No color, just white and clean.
29. Do you believe in reincarnation?
30. Do you know anyone living today with whom you’d happily trade lives? Who?
I cannot imagine not being me. But perhaps I’d enjoy a life with more collaboration and less isolation.
31. Apple or PC?
32. Who is more important: Bono or Oprah?
Probably Oprah as a motivational tool for millions.
33. Do you tell lies?
34. Do you think it is better to be exceptionally intelligent with average charm or exceptionally charming with average intelligence?
I am going to go with charm. One can learn many things but I do not think charisma is one of them.