Srijon Chowdhury

Srijon Chowdhury

When did you first discover or become interested in art? Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to pursue making it?

I grew up making paintings but was usually disappointed with how things turned out. When I was in college I got a job as a caricature artist at an amusement park, drawing 10 hours a day 6 days a week I learned that it takes practice to make what you want… which was a realization that went beyond making good drawings. Art is an area where I have space to think and be critical and keep some distance from the systems that are destroying the world… I get depressed though seeing how much contemporary art relies and is complicit with capitalist systems and how it also sometimes resembles junior high. All that said: I love great paintings and I think they make the world better.

In your statement, you mention that your paintings present "an idea of a version of a history." Can you elaborate on that?

I think that history is a very malleable idea. I am trying to make a relationship to history painting, which is typically a “record” of a monumental moment designed to shape how people think. I am interested in how paintings can be used. So by using history paintings as a conceptual base and then using banal or symbolic images, repetition, colors, scale, etc… I am thinking about history as something subjective and shared through feelings. BUT that’s only one way I think of that statement.

What is your process like?

I work fast. Sometimes layers, sometimes none. Some images are made up, some come from photos from my phone, one series was based on a mosque that my great great great grandfather built. I like to think about moods and what colors mean and how they make me feel. I think about what different objects symbolize and how they make me feel. Right now I am making work that is taking imagery from the book of Revelations. The research I do is pretty loose. I also try not to get too hung up on whether my paintings are any good or not.

What is your studio or workspace like?

I split my time between Portland and LA. My LA studio is dark, dusty and cold. I think of it as my cave.  In the back is a pretty nice garden that my studio mate Jack Bangerter calls garbage jungle. My Portland studio is in my back yard and is surrounded by plants that reach in through my studio door. I try to clean up once a week so that I don’t get to messy.

Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you in the mode to create?

I listen to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks a lot, in addition to it being a beautiful album, it has become a kind of metronome for me.

Do you have a favorite mantra, quote, or piece of advice you rely on when you're working?

Be Honest / Nothing really matters.

What do you need or value most as an artist?

Uninterrupted time

What is or has been the most challenging or daunting aspect of pursuing art?

Money and doubt

What are you working on right now?

A few things.

My gallery Chicken Coop Contemporary shares a small barn with my chickens. I bring in artists and curators from outside of Portland, which is great because it gives me a chance to interact with people and see art in real life that I otherwise may not be getting to.

Utopian Visions Art Fair, which is a platform for artists/gallerists/curators/organizations to present projects that are actively working towards addressing societal problems by speaking truth to power or by speculating and working towards possible futures. The model of the art fair is being used because it is an area in contemporary art with some transparency to look into the art world’s complicity/reliance on capitalist systems. That is part of the content of this fair: how to free art from a system that both gives it value and makes it powerless.

And my Revelations paintings that will look more banal and strange than apocalyptic. They are part of a 2 person show with Bobbi Woods that will be at The Art Gym next January.

Find more at srijonchowdhury.com and on Instagram @srijonchowdhury!

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