Friday Interview With Eric Yevak

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Eric Yevak is a Southern born multi-media artist who currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Yevak’s paintings, films, and sound performances have been exhibited in galleries, museums and institutions across North America

Yevak’s atmospheric works evoke meditative qualities that war between logical systematic progression and rebellion. His work is a belief in struggle as a form of enlightenment. His multi-faceted practice cultivates a sense of surface, texture and tone. Yevak’s pieces act as visual solutions to his own curiosities and meditations on the concept of purity in conflict.

Hey Eric! So nice to have you involved!

Looking at your work has provoked the usual ‘modern art’ discussion here at the Club House. It’s easy to get lost in the ‘What does it mean?’ ‘What’s the artist’s intention?’ ‘Does the artist’s use of blue adequately demonstrate the plight of refugees in modern America?’ kind of thing. Where do you stand on this with the arts? Is it about what it means, is it about what you think it means, or is it about what you like?

The visual arts are much like all the other arts (music, literature, dance.. etc) they all have their own vocabulary and rhythms. And like most things in life it takes time and some effort. When we are young we like a certain kind of music. It’s easy. It’s very appalling. As we grow and mature we often start to like or be attracted to different kinds of music. Music that challenges us, that speaks to our own reality. We may still like the music of our youth, but now we like it for different reasons, or for simply reminding us of the past. Contemporary visual arts are the same way. Its OK to just like something. A piece that speaks to you on a deeper personal level. Someone should never be afraid of that. But as intelligent beings it should be our normal standard to try and figure out why we like or hate certain things. As to the artist intentions. Well I don’t really care. The work I like the most is when the artist is lost, trying to figure out and deal with their own story/struggle. Sometimes the artist doesn’t know what their work really means for years, if they ever do. That being said there are pieces that I really enjoy, that when I find out what the artist intentions are I love even more. There are also pieces where I find out what the artist was going for and I am embarrassed for them. Disgusted. I wish I could unlearn it; it completely ruins the work for me. There is a mystical quality to a lot of art. Where the artist seems to be a conduit to something bigger, something more. Something that seems to touch upon our collective unconscious. This is the work I’m drawn to. There is a lot of contemporary work that is very Meta, which you have to be inside the art world to truly get to really understand the work. Some of that really appeals to me. But a lot of it is rubbish. The best art works on multiple levels and that can take time and effort.

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Based on the above, what’s the intention behind your work? Is it tangible, fixed, developing, or private? Is it the intention your work has always had, or have you found it more recently?

My intentions have always been the same. But after years of working and constantly trying to understand my drive to do this I’m just barely starting to understand my relationship with the work. I don’t really believe in tangible, fixed or private. If work isn’t developing it’s dieing. My work is alive and violent. It is hungry and is not my friend, because that is the way I am. Nothing is truly tangible. Nothing can be really held on to, everything eventually slips away or crumbles. This is the root of my work. Finding peace or even losing myself inside the conflict. It is the balance of tension before one side starts to win. It’s enjoying the fight not the result.

 Where did you get the influence for your style?

No one source. I’ve always loved the color field artists, and 60’s American post minimalism.  Islamic calligraphy and South American graffiti hand styles. Religion. Violence and the profane. Peter Saville and joy division. Are all the easy answers. But the truth is all those things mixed with growing up in the southern United States and studying and doing design for years.

Have you ever felt just so completely lost?

If you don’t care where you end up can you ever be lost? Or is that just something I tell myself? I feel lost all the time. But I feel that being able to feel lost is a luxury or even a privilege. There is a freedom in that state. As my friends often joke with me about, I have a hard time with agreeing to a reality. Not I hope in a hippie lazy way, because I do believe in work and struggle. Just the right kind work and struggle. For yourself, not for some controlling power.  I don’t seem to believe what everybody else seems to believe. I need reasons and logic. But my biggest issue is that most people’s logic is built on preconceived ideas, some weird cultural ideology that doesn’t really make sense. I feel like we are trapped in a stupid loop.   I guess I’m not really as lost as I want to be, or I’m so completely lost that I’ve now made it my home.

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What did/do you do to overcome it? 

I haven’t

What does the concept of being found mean to you?

Being known completely. Truly inside and out.  Which I believe is impossible barring some kind of a transcendental phenomena.

 How would your best friends describe your work?

My best friends seem to hate my work, or they think I’m pulling off a long con.

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How did your beard get so full?

Ha, the action of inaction. Sometimes not doing anything is the best path.  It’s really hard for me. I feel like a shark most of the time, I feel like if I stop moving I will suffocate. But Sometimes non-action or resisting the desire to move is much more strategic in the long run. In this case the desired action of shaving.

What would you tell young artists?

There is no winning. Embrace failure, embrace the fight. Your experience is real and just as important as everybody else’s. If being poor, hungry and scared doesn’t appeal to you. Fine, they don’t really appeal to me either. But where you’re a pussy, I’m not. When you’re going to give up to live a easy safe life, I haven’t. The normal day-to-day world is the enemy. Your job as an artist is to live in defiance of that.

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What does the future hold for you and where can we find everything you’ve ever done?

Right now I’m working on a bunch of shows across the US till about the end of 2015. I’m looking for places to show outside the US, like Brazil, Russia and Great Britain. Every mistake I have ever made seems to be all over the internet.

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What is your normal working day like?

Well I wake up late every day. Every single day. I live in Brooklyn, but I do some work in Manhattan. I take the train into the city; eat a bagel (and a Pepsi, I know I know) I do some design work for a couple hours then take the train back to Brooklyn. Most nights I train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. I’m very lucky to be on staff at a great MMA gym. After training for a couple hours I grab some food and head to my studio. I get there around 10pm and stay until 3 or 4am. Which I guess is why I’m always late to my day job.

Any last words?

Stand your ground. Remember there is only perceived

Value. Nothing is real. Satisfaction is the death of desire (I had to do it)

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