A conversation with artist Pete Schulte

YG: your working with graphite on paper but the result feel like 'a painting' not
like 'a drawing'. any thoughts on those categories?

PS: Honestly, categories interest me far less than the experiences conveyed by works of art. That said, drawing is undoubtedly the cornerstone of my creative practice. I do it everyday, and wherever my work my roam, conceptually, formally, or in terms of media and materials, it’s point of origin is always in some way linked to the activity that I call 'drawing'. Curiously, artists from Bonnard to Richard Serra have linked the act of drawing to thinking – an observation with which I agree – however, I will take it a step further and say that for me drawing often precedes thought. The drawings occasionally act as my guides, they provide content and direction, and eventually cognition catches up. It has also been said that drawing essentially reveals the act of its making, while painting subsequently erases it. If one were to invest in this train of thought, then it is easy to see how much of my work could fit more readily into the category of painting. Ultimately, drawing seems to be something far more direct and immediate than painting, which I suppose is the reason why I identify my work as such.

YG: I like what you said about drawing And directness, and i remember Richard sera saying a similar thing about drawing as a 'thinking mechanism'. What are you working on right now?

PS: I just finished work on a solo installation entitled, A Letter Edged In Black, at the Visual Arts Gallery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It represents another chapter in a series of exhibitions uniquely realized and conditioned by the sites and circumstances in which they are shown. Profoundly influenced by recent travel in Italy, the installation, comprised of painted walls, window treatment, drawings, and sculpture, immerses the viewer in a singular experience: one that intimates the surface, texture and tonality of that country’s distant past, while remaining resolutely contemporary. It is by far the largest installation that I’ve done to date and I’m very proud of the outcome. I’m also excited because the closing reception (on 22 February) will feature a live-sound installation by two incredible improvisers, Andrew Raffo Dewar – soprano sax, and Brad Davis – electronics.

YG: i identify with the strategy of presenting works within a site specific installation not evident for painters now days, its more typical to conceptual contemporary artists. but doesnt it really go back in time to previous centuries, where painters did wall works, sculptures and sometimes the architecture of the building itself?

PS: Yes, of course. Never was that more apparent to me then it was this past summer during my travels. I wonder though about the notion of specialization that is embedded in your comment. On a certain level, the core of my practice is based on making fairly conventional objects – drawings on paper. However, I certainly do not feel that these works, taken independently, or as part of installations, are devoid of conceptual content or exist outside of the realm of conceptualism. I do not identify myself as a drawer, any more than I do as an installation artist, or conceptualist. I identify myself as an artist. I think that artists are explorers at heart. I will follow a line of inquiry and pursue it wherever it may lead. Drawing is the cornerstone of my practice, but my pursuits also include an integration of painting, sculptural, time-based, social, site-specific, and curatorial activities. At the moment, I am interested less in creating ‘installations’, than I am in creating a singular, immersive experience, one that may be composed of several constituent parts, but that ultimately functions as a complete and unified whole – whatever label one wants to put on it.

YG: looking on your drawing i was admiring the way you use grey as a middle point and contra-pointing it with white and black.
i also was wondering about the way the symmetrical works holds still while the non symmetrical create movements
would you like to elaborate ?

PS: Most of my drawings are improvised and found in the act of making. Even if I’m trying to give visual form to something conceptually specific or using another drawing as a starting point (which I often do), the drawings tend to be resolved based more on feel, mood, and/or visual rhythm, rather than any sort of pre-meditated outcome. On occasion those attributes are achieved through a muted tonal range, stark contrast, or a dynamic compositional device indicative of movement, at other times a quieter and more static sensibility emerges. Whatever the case, this tendency toward improvisation is part of the adventure and enjoyment that I derive from making the drawings, or any other form that my work may embody.

YG: what artists are you currently looking at?

PS: I look at a lot of work, from the distant past to immediate contemporaries, most of which tends to come and go, but then there are those that stick, the ones who touch you profoundly and continue to hold you in their sway: James Bishop, Agnes Martin, Frederick Hammersley, Giuseppe Penone, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Anonymous Tantric Meditation Drawings from Rajasthan (thank you Franck Andre Jamme), American Plains Indian Shields and Parfleches, Franz West, Matisse, Fra Angelico, Richard Rezac, John Dilg, Robert Ryman, Philip Guston, Blinky Palermo, David Hammons, Helio Oiticica, James Lee Byars, Anne Truitt, and Raoul de Keyser, among others.

YG: any upcoming dates you would like to mention?

PS: I’ve done five solo shows and at least another five group shows in just over a year. I’m looking forward to settling into some solid and consistent time in the studio - to simply make some work, because that is where I love to be and what I love to be doing. Eventually, I will be developing a new project for a solo show at Beta Pictoris Gallery (Birmingham, Alabama) in March of 2014. Coinciding with that exhibition, I will also be curating a group show that I am extremely excited to begin work on.

YG: anything else?

PS: Yes, thank you for taking the time talk to me about my work and projects. It’s been a pleasure.