Illuminated Text also on vellum – a page from a text from a future religion concerns the origin of a race
TribeLA Magazine Acrostic Interview.5
Tools: What do you prefer to work with, physically and otherwise?
When I work, my movements are a kind of dance. I always stand up even if I am painting for 10 hours. Activity keeps me busy. Twisting, bending, reaching, moving the brushes across a surface is rejuvenating. The materials I use mostly are oil, ink, gouache and dye. I am finding new materials to paint on and employ all the time. Recently I have been doing frottage (rubbings with graphite) and combining them with stamps that I make that I use like etchings. Sometimes I have a dozen different media in a piece. I enjoy working on paper for the sensuous quality of each distinct skin. Of course, canvas is a joy to use too.
Indulgence: What is your favorite indulgence? Do you cook? What is your specialty meal? What is your favorite restaurant in LA where you indulge yourself?
I love to cook. My go to recipes involve seafood. Scampi is a dish I make well. Creating a novel salad, which is bright and fresh is something I often whip up. I live on the east side. So I often go to PINE and Crane, a Taiwanese restaurant on Sunset where the food is always fresh, delicious and reasonable. Dune is good too and close to my house. Recently I ate at Inkwell in WEHO and the food was excellent. Ruen Pair in Thai town is wonderful for soups and fish dishes.
Special: Who or what holds a special place in your heart? How does this factor into your creative process?
My family is the greatest support of my life. They show me what real love is. I don’t have to seek it from public admiration or even from peers. My love of performance and dramatic texts also influence my art practice. I learned composition, picturalization from my work as a theatre director and see the painted framed as zone where figures in metaphorical action enact their objectives. My time as a lighting designer gave me an understanding of how to use color and movement in a lively fashion. Geometry and volume are aspects learned in theatre that I work into the plenum of a painting. Angled lines are dynamic. I call this scheme a renaissance cartoon.
Time: What is your all-time favorite piece of writing/art/music you’ve created?
Like most artists, my favorite pieces are the ones most recently completed. I am not nostalgic about work. I just like to move forward after a series has reached an inflection point, which leads me to the next place. I try to learn from visiting an idea. I always say I would like to make work that shimmers the membrane between universes. I know this sounds pompous…so maybe it’s best to say I am focused on following my mistakes to where the thing becomes itself. I say the same things about plays. Work that is ephemeral is also potent. The last series I did of graphite and dye and oil on large paper 50″ x 80″ is holding my attention now. I also like the series of small frottage-stamp combos I finished.
Robert Soffian (born 1947, Philadelphia, Pa) is an emeritus professor of theatre, a director, painter and poet. He holds an MFA from the University of Virginia (1985) and BA in Cultural Studies/History from the University of Wisconsin in Madison (1969). For the almost 30 years he taught at Shasta College in Redding, CA. Soffian has directed, designed lights, created mis en scen, and experimented with digital projected scenery for well over 100 plays. As a producer, he ran two theatres: Century Hall and the Metropole Theatre (Milwaukee, WI). Soffian has curated dozens of exhibitions, ballet, opera, performance art, and music events. (He is credited with having discovered the Violent Femmes).
Previously published works by Robert