April 28th, 2016 | E-mail interview by NINa
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NINa:Your paintings, that could be placed within post-impressionism and cubism, are based on contrasting, dualistic colors where a subject and its background underline each other. Do you find it annoying when you're asked about the meaning of your artworks or do you actually enjoy explaining the symbolism behind them, if any?
Interesting question! It is true that I can articulate some meanings for some of my art work. For example, Africa Unite, is a hopeful piece of symbolism for Africa. Most of the art is just supposed to be enticing to look at, no secret agenda.
NINa: Are you a traditionalist or do you like to try out novelties such as waterbrushes or UV, neon, and mirror paints? Do you have any favourite artistic techniques, tools or brands?
Gilbert: Wow, am I a traditionalist? That absolutely may be true. definitely have tried a number of different things, but mostly it is simple acrylic on canvas. Am I a traditionalist with respect to my digital image art? I don't think so at all. You should look at my 2016 art at newjazz.net
It may be difficult to find ANYTHING traditional there.
NINa: Making art is often a method of self-therapy and self-mastery. I knew an artist who used sketchbooks - he burnt them once they were filled with illustrations, almost like during an alchemical process of purging once's personal 'demons' (the energy released through drawing) with fire. Have you ever destroyed any of your paintings for a reason?
Gilbert: Hmmmm, I suspect I may have destroyed SOMETHING of my art, but nothing stands out. Now the music is different! YES, I have destroyed final recordings. My guess is at most 8 out of more than 600. I am looking for the absolute best music. If I feel any hesitation, then that may be the end for that recording.
NINa: Not only does creative interaction between one’s hands and the brain develop responsiveness to art, beauty, sound, and overall vibration, but it also teaches spatial imagination, crucial for navigating our 3D reality. Should art and music lessons be mandatory in pre-schools and colleges for kids and teens, in your opinion? If you were a teacher, which aspects of art – practical, esthetic, spiritual, symbolical (or any other) would you turn your students' attention to?
Gilbert: Yes, I believe art and music lessons should be mandatory, or encouraged as much as possible. Let me tell you a story. I went insane composing music starting in 2014. I absolutely noticed an increase in my intellectual firepower. So I think teaching kids to compose, will absolutely do the same thing. I could absolutely teach people how to compose. I think as a teacher I would pursue all aspects of art equally with the students.
NINa: Are there any exhibitions of your works running in the real world (at a local gallery, for example) aside from your digital artworks available at newjazz.net? Which cities (or countries) would you like to have exhibitions in?
Gilbert: No exhibitions right now. Had two month long showings many years ago in Reston, VA. They didn't change my life! My friends tell me I should go to New York. I can imagine an audience there, but that is not what I am interested in fully pursuing right now.
NINa: Could you list three pros and cons of being an artist in 2016, when compared to making art in 17th century US (or perhaps Medieval Europe too) in terms of an audience, censorship/acceptance of ideas, available tools, exhibition places, work time-frames, income? What do you think has become easier and what more difficult for a visual artist and a musician since then?
Gilbert: Pros - modern mediums and materials, global audience potential, modern understandings of life. Cons - too many artists and musicians, earnings potential mostly low, extremism. I would say it has become much easier to create very high quality works since hundreds of years ago. The potential options are unlimited. As mentioned, the problem is that there are way too many people who want to be artists and musicians. There is just no way to fund everybody.
NINa: According to your bio, you worked as a Java programmer but retired when you turned 47. Is entering one's 40s a natural tipping point that re-arranges life priorities?
Gilbert: Well for me, entering my 40s changed things, because I experienced age discrimination. I always worked as a contractor, but all of sudden the interest level was much lower. So when that happens, that certainly makes you question what you are trying to achieve and accomplish. So I said "Fine, let's go nuts with the music and art!
NINa: How has your music taste been changing from teenage years to the present day? Do you still resonate well with the sounds you enjoyed in your 20s?
Gilbert: I still love Zeppelin! So yeah, I still dig a lot of that other stuff from that era. Some stuff of course has faded from interest. Most of the 80s, 90s, etc. has not been that interesting musically. Of course, SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE is doing it, but you know how that is!
NINa: I really enjoyed Supernatural Absence's instrumental jazz fusion tracks where you play the guitar & keyboards with a collective of other talented musicians. You also make solo music and navigate through different genres - from jazz, rock, through progressive rock to electronica, even dance. There are hundreds of tracks you've recorded, offered for free on your website. What do you like best - writing compositions, creating arrangements, putting together melodies, or a solo/collaborative performance? Or perhaps it's the final audience reception that gives you most pleasure?
Gilbert: Short story about Supernatural, in 2002 a musician friend recommended Peter Fraize for the project. He was totally into it and he played some killer stuff. And then, 12 years later, he works with me again! I have more than 100 songs with him playing sax. I guess the funnest thing is actually composing to musical staff. Only infinity gets in the way! Discovering interesting rhythms and melodies is very entertaining. Arranging is always necessary, but not usually that exciting. Final audience reception? That only includes cool people like you. For the most part, I have never had an audience reception.
NINa: Dreams can bring a lot of original ideas. Sensitive (artistic) people have all kinds of dream experiences, that can sometimes be compared to true time and space travels throughout their entire lives. What kind of dreams do you have? Do they fuel your new art and music?
Gilbert: Here's what I can tell you about dreams. Over a few year period, I had a lot of lucid dreams. You know, where you absolutely know that you are dreaming, and you can affect things? I experienced some amazing stuff. In one dream I was flying around an area the size of several football fields. I can't really think of anything specific from a dream, that influenced things, but that is highly likely!
*Gilbert Engle has been composing music for over 30 years and creating art for 25+ years. With over 600 music compositions, 50 albums, 200 visual works and 80 paintings completed so far, he has always had a small, but dedicated fan base. As he has found the time and backing to devote full time to his passions, Gilbert has built the newJazz.net portal to provide free access to most of his completed and upcoming works and to share his passion with a global audience.
Titles of paintings
- top: Americana Flag
, middle: Blue Kate
, bottom: Blue TriMen On the Town
| Gilbert's music
| Noisetrade - Supernatural Absence
Pictures come from Gilbert Engle's archive, all copyrights reserved by their respective owners. Questions proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński.