“Smell the Sulfur”: Renowned artist Eric Stotik speaks about haunting work
October 06, 2015
Curated by Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery Director Linda Tesner, the latest exhibit at the Hoffman Gallery will awaken, stir, and rattle its visitors.
Eric Stotik, the local Portland artist whose work currently resides in the gallery, spoke at Lewis & Clark on September 27. He has won acclaim and awards for his surreal and perturbing paintings. “I like artists who smell the sulfur,” he says, noting that he is influenced by the styles of artists like Goya and Dali. The exhibit (titled “FUGUE”) showcases a massive 45’ x 5’ dreamscape painting, which Stotik created after winning the 2011 fellowship from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). Along with the elite title, the Fellow in Visual Arts comes with a cash award of $20,000.
Stotik’s talk gave great insight into his influences, process, and unique aesthetic. “It’s like going at it like a child,” he explains to the audience of interested students, faculty, and visitors. As he describes it, he tends not to pre-plan his work much before going at it. It is difficult to tell whether this comment captures the entire truth; Stotik is reluctant to expand too much on his process and the violent tones conveyed in his paintings. “Tell [people] not to be so negative,” he jokes. “People know the human suffering is there,” he adds, without delving into the topic much further. Flipping through a slideshow of his work, he briefly introduces his paintings, and presents some without comment at all.
Unlike many painters, Stotik frequently leaves his work untitled. In a 2013 interview with Artsmania, he revealed that the act of naming a piece of art is both powerful and intimidating, confessing that (much like getting a tattoo) a title could lose its appeal and relevance after five years. During his talk on campus, Stotik also admits his interest in using a variety of sources on which to paint, including saw blades and turtlenecks. “I don’t like dumb matter,” he admits, referring to more commonly used surfaces such as plain canvas.
Like many Third Culture Kids at Lewis & Clark, Stotik grew up in various countries, including Papa New Guinea, Australia, and the United States. He moved to Portland to study at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he graduated in 1985. Since then, Stotik’s work has been displayed locally in the Laura Russo Gallery, Jamison Thomas Gallery, and PDX Contemporary Art. His work can also be found at other institutions, such as the New York Public Library and Yale University.