What is the best thing that I love about my work? The sense of discovery in pouring paint and combining ink, glitter and pumice with acrylic pours. I never know where the pours or the painting will go; the movement of paint determines every next step. I love the process in figuring out how to wrest space from spills of color, whether the space in a pattern or landscape.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? Ease. When the tip of my brush lightly touches the linen surface and time opens to infinity, what Agnes Martin refers to as the “holiday state of mind.” Martin goes further describing Chuang Tsu’s phrase that “In free and easy wandering there is only freshness and adventure. It is really awareness of perfection within the mind…it is so hard to slow down to the point where it is possible to explore one’s own mind.”
What is my greatest fear? Undue attachment.
What is the trait I most deplore in myself? Impatience, for which the perfect antidote is pouring paint.
Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? I admire too many to name, so will mention David Reed and Mernet Larsen, whose thinking and development are rigorous and focused.
What is my greatest extravagance? Time: suspending sequential time as much as possible. On a basic level my greatest extravagance is the best quality paint, brushes, linen, and paper.
On what occasion would I lie? If the truth were needlessly hurtful, perhaps evasion as I try not to lie and don’t generally see a need for it.
What is the thing I dislike the most in my work? I dislike unnecessary embellishments despite the maximal nature of my paintings. Necessitude takes time to assess so it is only through time the conclusion can be reached. Looking at paintings and painting itself are dynamic, changeable processes.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? I am always happiest in my work living in the realm of the painting being made. True joy is to uncover the way a painting must be painted within the fortuitous complicity of enough time and space—preferably in a space where I can make a mess.
If I could, what would I change about myself? Eliminate as many forms of angst as possible.
What is my greatest achievement in work? Rhythmic movement between light and dark, wet and dry, flat and textured realms.
Where would I most like to live? I love where I live in Manhattan’s West Village, near water and beautiful parks. I also love Miami, Tampa, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Paris, cities where I’ve lived or spent significant time. I’d like to try living in China.
What is my most treasured possession? An ink brush made of rooster tails.
What is my most marked characteristic? Energy.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Wave Hill, a New York Public Garden and Cultural Center.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Malaparte, a neighborhood bistro.
What books influenced my life and how? George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Its sweeping, epic composition contains the whole of life, which reflects my wish to paint space containing every landscape. Various translations of the Tao Te Ching, Red Pine’s book The Clouds Should Know Me By Now and Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, which explains the religion I grew up with, influenced my belief in a world that exist beyond the seen. Childhood books such as Curious George and Where the Wild Things are showed the transformative power of imagination to access such a world early on.
Who are my favorite writers? This list could change on any given day, but for today, Jennifer Egan, Ha Jin, Yu Hua, Colson Whitehead, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Red Pine’s translations of poems by Stonehouse and Cold Mountain, David Hinton’s translations of poets Wang Wei and Tu Fu. I admire artists, poets and writers who write about art in addition to their own work.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Maybe nothing. Or Julianna Barwick’s collection Nepenthe and Buddhist chants a friend in Beijing recorded for me.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Harriet the Spy
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? Huang Gongwang, Charles Burchfield, Alice Neel, Agnes Martin, Susanna Coffey, Mira Schor.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Melancholia by Lars von Trier.
What role plays art in my life and work? Art is the life force and fuel on which my life and work run.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My husband Karl Kelly, a painter who also manufactures chalk pastels, inks and paints for his company Marion Street Art Materials. His independence, keen eye for color, willingness to travel anywhere to look at paintings and patient nature are deeply appreciated.
With whom would I like to work with in 2017? I look forward to working with the artists Chrysanne Stathacos, Brece Honeycutt, Cecile Chong, Judith Linhares, Jessica Weiss, Jimmy Wright, Nancy Friedemann, Amy Lincoln and Rebecca Saylor Sack on the exhibition Strange Flowers I am organizing for Westbeth Gallery September 8 – 30, 2017. I enjoy working with institutions, museums and galleries. I just met Liz Dimmit and would love to do something with her.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? Not so much meet, but connect in conversation with artists, writers, critics, curators and directors, locally and internationally, with whom to share common aesthetic and philosophical interests.
What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to working on? The installation Growth Cycle, where gestures, pours and patterns relate throughout paintings, ink drawings and wallpaper, fusing the interior and exterior world through décor.
Where can you see my work in 2017? 2017 opened with Unnatural Life, at Emerson-Dorsch, Miami. I’ll show a new, small painting in Gardens on Orchard at Lesley Heller Workspace, 54 Orchard St., July 12 – August 18; two older paintings in Tremolo at Rick Wester Fine Art, 526 W 26 St. Suite 407, through July 28. I will show Growth Cycle in the four-person exhibition Flora Fantastica! at Wave Hill July 16 -August 27. Meanwhile, my solo exhibition Blooming World continues through August 1 in the Florida Everglades at the Ernest F. Coe Visitors Center near Homestead, FL. I am also excited to have a painting included in Women Painting at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall Campus through September 29, featuring work from Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz’s art collection.
What do the words Passion Never Retires mean to me? Just what it says, though I’d phrase it differently.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Michelle Weinberg, Adelheid Mers, Kylie Heidenheimer, Carol Salmanson, Claudia Ryan, Billie Grace Lynn.
How can you contact me? elisabethcondon.com or Instagram @condonelisabeth.