Steven Tritt

Expressing isolation, alienation, guilt, humor, beauty/ugliness, and the human condition, my work comes off as therapeutic. For structure I take personal subject matter and I paint, draw, scrape, rub and paint some more in an unconscious, gestural approach. I overlap multiple images to create new ones and add non drawing materials for texture or to a work I’m struggling to resolve. Working with transparent layers I am concerned with revealing the history of a given work and my process. I am driven to express a personal visual language that reflects the country and the world we live in, while at the same time considering the past.

My medium is fairly traditional and yet it is rare if I don’t mix them. They include: latex and acrylic paint, pastels, charcoal, graphite, ink, sand, sawdust and I work on yupo paper, reclaimed wood, various artist boards and canvas. Much of the time I work on a wet surface so a water spray bottle is one of my most important tools. I use a metal scraper to scratch and scrape back into work which means I need a strong surface to work on.

Creative process and concept are linked. I start with a basic composition, but I let each piece flow intuitively from that point, allowing what is happening on the surface to dictate the direction each work will go. There’s no preconceived notion of a final destination. I work on several different series concurrently which creates some crossover in application choices: color, shape, line, a certain painting technique, use of a pattern, scraping back into painted areas, and addition of texture. When I say process and concept are linked, it’s from the standpoint that the process produces the overall visual content of my art and the history of a given work.

Subject matter is also linked to content ranging from figurative, landscapes, to a short list of objects: guitars, cellos, trees, leaves, and Nigerian masks. My imagery is personal and/or relate to one another formally. Recent figurative compositions are based from Picasso’s painting of Marie-Therese Walter. I personalized this series because of the physical similarities of Ms. Walter and my wife and the fact that in many paintings she is sleeping. I fused this idea with the notion of the work I do with objects: the repetition of forms and contours in nature and human made objects which in this case are the musical instruments of guitar and cellos in relation to the human figure. Landscapes encompass the idea of Lebensraum. Translated from German to “living space”, it was the impetus for Nazi Germany’s expansion in Europe, but can transcend into covering the notion of European expansion into the Americas, United States expansion westward, and today how “living space” on Earth shrinks. Other themes associated with my landscapes are human exploitation of the land and conversely nature’s indifference to humans; ultimately, an abstract notion of the land as the body and the sky as the soul. The Nigerian masks make up a new, developing idea, which is the creation of a contemporary American mask.  America is many cultures: European, African, Asian, Native American, African American, Caribbean, Mexican, and Central American. Using two masks for structure, I have transformed them into friends, family members and myself, as well as Jesus and the couple from Grant’s American Gothic.

I graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1990 with a Master of Fine Arts.

My experience with Inspiration Corporation was meeting Chicago Pop Artist, Peter Mars. Peter has provided guidance into what the life of a professional artist is like and has developed into a major supporter of my work.