Saturday, February 2, 2008

DPT Spotlight: Dave Lefner

I'm gonna let you in on a secret....His name is Dave Lefner.

You haven't heard of him? You will.

Dave is a true artiste, who has resurrected and mastered the century-old technique of linoleum reduction printing made famous by Picasso. In each limited-edition linocut print he makes, Dave reinterprets the beauty, spirit and historical significance of the forgotten beauty that surrounds us.

Dave was drawn to this process because it restored the artist to the "proper role of artisan," allowing each piece to slowly reveals itself with each bold new color.

He's been
featured on the Carol Duvall Show and also in the Los Angeles Times, where Richard Duardo, chairman of the Graphic Arts Council at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a master printer himself was quoted as saying,

"...few artists or printmakers still do linoleum reduction printing..."We're a dying craft. Reductive printmaking is a time consuming, tedious process. In this day and age, people don't have that much patience. Artists turn instead to large-format printers, which are glorified Xerox machines. That's why when I see somebody that has mastered this craft, I'm flabbergasted. Lefner has gone beyond being a master printmaker. He's hands down the best linocut printmaker on the West Coast."

Spotlight: Dave Lefner

* Who or what inspired you to become an artist? I was ALWAYS drawing and always received such praise for my ability that I never remember a time when I didn't consider myself an artist.... I have that 1st grade drawing on my refrigerator of me at my easel complete with beret that boldly states "Someday I will be an artist and paint a lot of pictures". I never really thought of it in terms of a profession until high school when you're forced to decide what you what to do with the rest of your life. I entered college as a declared Graphic Designer because that was the only box to check that remotely involved art.

* Describe your childhood in 2 sentences: My childhood was a wonderful, blessed, unbearably mundane, suburban life. Norman Rockwell would have been jealous- blah!

* Who inspires you in the Art Scene?
Stuart Davis paintings, the graphic black and
white images of the German Expressionists, woodcuts from the 1940s, the Paris art scene in the 1920s, the New York art scene in the 1950s, Picasso reduction linocut series in the1950s, interesting typefaces and fonts, the negative white space of the paper against another color.

* Who are your favourite artists? It may seem cliche, but Picasso is one of my favs just based on sheer output and influence on Art history in general. He was a machine and pushed the boundaries until there WERE no boundaries. But it’s funny how most of the artists who I respond to on a gut level, actually don’t inspire my own art at all. I love the ones who have a completely different take on Art than I do- a lot of the Abstract Expressionists; Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko. I love Jean-Michel Basquiat, because I’m jealous that he could be so free and loose, but still have intellectual and philosophical content. I like Chuck Close- he found one thing, the portrait, and did it a million different ways and kept it fresh.

* What Inspires you In Life? The Greatness of human achievement, whether it be in the form of art, literature, music, movies, architecture. Things that have stood the test of time and remain as relevant today as when they were created. As human beings, we are capable of so much- it’s sad to me how little we settle for in ourselves as well as others. Some other things that inspire my work are the graphic silhouettes of telephone and electric wires that zig-zag over our heads. They are everywhere and so crucial to life as we know it in the city, but taken for granted. Also, things like the graphic images on dollar bills, anatomical drawings from Gray’s Anatomy and just type in general, especially blown up on a huge scale. Things that we are used to seeing on a small scale, have a different feel when presented on a larger scale.

* Where do you want to travel?
I desperately want to travel- especially Europe- all the places I’ve read about in the biographies of my heroes- France (for Matisse, Picasso, all those cats in the 1920s-), Spain, Italy are the top 3! Life can be so expensive. It’s hard to find the money and the time to travel the way I want!

* When did you start to notice the cityscapes of Los Angeles? Well, I suppose that it had to be in my early 20s, when I really started driving around town to go out with friends to new bars and clubs. Hollywood and its adjacent areas had a very colorful nightlife- literally. The glow of the neon and glitz was amazing. Driving down Sunset Blvd. was always such an experience, because it always looked so bright and glamourous. But you knew there were things hidden by the cover of night. Hollywood at night was too cliche. So as I drove some of those same routes in broad daylight and got the real story. An aging building in the harsh light high noon didn’t look as glamourous, but other interesting things were going on. Shadows cast off broken neon tubing, rusting architectural elements, torn advertising posters. It opened a whole world of inspiration for me.

*What sort of imagery do you try to capture with your work? Being born and raised in Los Angeles made me want to comment on and capture the uniquely-LA landscape. There is something intriguing or maybe even disturbing about the bombardment of billboards, advertising, signage, storefronts, every kind of typeface and font screaming at you, etc. New York City has that inspiring effect on me, but Los Angeles is laid out differently. People are in their cars, driving around so quickly that the urban beauty surrounding them needs to be pointed out to the average person more here. Sometimes, in our busy lives, we don’t see how beautiful the shadows cast off some broken, burnt out old neon sign can be.

Serpentine Republic AR - 323.397.5599

Upcoming Exhibition:

Brewery Artwalk, Los Angeles, 2008

  • Saturday, April 5 [11am-6pm]
  • Sunday, April 6 [11am-6pm]
For appointments or more information, call or comment & someone will contact you.


tootsiegrace said...

Oh... WOW! What a fantastic artist! It is always so inspiring to discover something new... I had never even imagined creating art that way, or having it turn out so amazingly awesome! What a great feature.


Dave said...

Oh my God! I love it! It looks
...great. You're the best! I really appreciate all the time and energy you've put into this.

xo Dave

MikieP said...

Great feature this week for sure...Dave ROCKS!


katelynjane said...

Love his work!! Great interview (:

GumballGrenade said...

Artists with talent such as Dave elevate craft to art. Love it! Wonderful feature.

Natalia Designs said...

Nice blag! Great interview!

JLC Studio said...

Ooooh, he's talented, and cute...great combination!!

oddlyme said...

We went to the artwalk today and of all the folks we saw - dave blew us away.

So, dave, even though we couldn't buy stuff today, know that you hugely impressed us with your craft, talent, passion and fun. And know that you are on our "Some Day" list!

Janine said...

I have known Dave casually for years. I knew he was a tenacious and passionate man however I was unaware of his persistence and resiliency. I am inspired by his dedication and fortitude to maintain a lost art with such passion and love. It is a privilege and an honor to have the pleasure of knowing you Mr. Lefner!

sarihatma said...

spikey headed guy! :p

Ric said...

I thought you'd appreciate this short documentary I made on Dave Lefner. It was just added to the staff picks on Vimeo.

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