Like many artists, Liam Everett finds liberation through his creative practice. Represented by On Stellar Rays in New York, and Altman Siegel in San Francisco, Everett’s work—most notably his stunning canvases treated with salt and alcohol (sometimes a sander)—are additive paintings that find their completion through subtraction. His most recent work, though, is bound in a book and captures his exploration of an aged shed and the long forgotten tools held within it. Here, the artist shares the liberating process of “purposefully making that which is useless,” and the graceful presence of the mundane.
“INUTILE” is a beautiful artist edition book capturing a series you created with materials you happened upon in Toulouse. Can you tell us what brought you there in the first place? My wife is from Toulouse and we have been visiting there on a regular basis for the past 15 years.
And when you uncovered this trove of tools and materials—watercolor from the 1940s, ink from the 50s, tools that were a century or more old—did you have an immediate desire to create with them? My immediate desire was to familiarize myself with them and to become intimate with their uselessness.
You described the process of creation as being led by the objects—the content of your surroundings articulated the direction of the practice. Sounds almost spiritual. This is the same approach/practice that I have been consumed with for the past several years. In fact I am just repeating myself. Different materials, different context, although always the same practice.
This process of exploration and creation was especially personal through the presence of your father in law. Can you tell us about the dialogue that ensued? The gifts of experience that my father in law has shared with me over the years are layered in the everyday. He has the rare talent of lifting ideas, objects and memories out of the flat lands of the quotidian and throwing them into the open. An old key, a tattered manuscript, a broken hammer… whatever it is, he relishes the history that it holds or signals. It is with grace that he exposes their presence.
Author Rabih Alameddine wrote the introduction to the book. How did that collaboration come about? After I returned from France last year, I explained to Rabih that I was making a book of drawings that had been inspired by a series of conversations I had with my father in law. I asked Rabih if he would write an introduction that could give context to the impetus behind the project. Instead, he wrote a short work of fiction, which turned out to be the perfect solution as it accomplished much more that I had imagined.
“INUTILE” c0-published by by RITE Editions, Altman-Siegel Gallery, and On Stellar Rays, is available in a limited edition of 45 and 5 APs that are signed, dated and numbered; $850 and can be purchased from Rite Editions.