Paul Loughney’s collages resemble daydreams where seemingly unrelated elements coalesce into a fantastic mindscape where body parts, typography, geometric shapes, and hints of architectural elements scramble into unique environments that are oddly believable despite their quirky nature.
Tell me a bit about the genesis of your current body of work.
I continue to compose collages in an intuitive process, attempting to make images a bit like visual hallucinations, a kind of delirium, all the while pursuing that intimate space between viewer and image, and creating an experience that rewards slow looking. My new series of collages exist in the space between abstraction and figuration, anthropology and storytelling: where belief mingles with magical thinking. For the first time, they include text and frottage. Disjointed letters are compressed into spheres as graphic as they are ambiguous. Fractured words seem to act as a metaphor for incomplete thoughts, an inability to fully articulate reality, and the failure of inept language to conjure miracles. My process with frottage is deductive, and is used to reveal elements ‘just beneath’ the surface. The scratchy removal of printed surfaces creates an eerie echo of an otherworldly image that is, like the fragmented words, intentionally vague. These elements constitute an extension of my approach to magazines as ‘anthropological documents’, and of excavating necessary parts in order to breathe new life into such materials.
Many of my surfaces employ a wide range of printed blacks as a type of ‘real estate of allure’. They stem largely from the backgrounds supporting luxury items depicted in magazines – as if such goods exist in a void. Other new characters in this series are dead canaries, the harbingers of unseen danger; vacant vessels, emblems of impressionable minds; imitated camouflage patterns, representing the ego’s way of hiding in plain sight; and stars.
Please guide us through the show you had at Vorderzimmer.
Vorderzimmer is a new venue in the Bed Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. My show was the third one to date. The space itself is a traditional ground floor parlor room, complete with the original decorative moulding in the home of artists Halona Hilbertz and Donn Davis. It’s a very quaint, warm space with good energy. The parameters of each exhibition is that it’s open for one afternoon only. Knowing those limitations I kept things manageable. The old adage that luck favors the prepared felt to be the case as when Halona asked me to show and coming over soon after for a studio visit, I had already made most of the new work. I am working on something in the studio on a regular basis and am very disciplined. Halona’s very positive reactions and to one work in particular inspired me to pivot hard to make the two largest works in the show, which happen to be the collages mounted on canvas. The experience from start to finish was all green lights. It’s always a pleasure to work with another professional who cares about the end result as much as you do.
All photo courtesy of the artist unless otherwise indicated.
Paul Loughney received his MFA degree in 2006 from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Mexico, Germany and the US, with a solo show at the project space at Lesley Heller Gallery in NYC in 2019. His work is in the permanent collection of Nobel Collection in Zurich; Purdue University, Indiana, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum, New Brunswick, NJ; New York Public Library, New York and the Brodsky Center at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA