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Tiffany Chung

08 Aug 2021

Text by Tiffany Chung

CITIZENS: REGINALD SYLVESTER II

08 Aug 2021

Reflecting the world we live in today, Reginald Sylvester II is an abstract artist that captures moments in time on canvas. In this edition of Citizens, the New York-based painter tells us about his foray into the art world, his creative process, and the characteristic an artist needs to push the work further.

 

How did you become an artist?

“I worked corporate for a while as a graphic designer for Gap. Corp, specifically Old Navy. Got some really great advice from my Senior Designer that I should pursue my creative endeavors outside of work. That working corporate could become a bit stale for someone as young and creatively driven as I was at the time."

 

So, did you go through a starving artist phase?

“I wouldn’t call it a ‘starving artist’ phase but I definitely struggled."

 

These Songs Of Freedom II & III, 2020. Acrylic on canvas.

 

Is the business side of being an artist something you had to learn as you go?

“Most definitely. You learn as you go. The unique relationship I have with my Dealer and good friend Max has been fruitful in the sense that I’ve been able to learn as he grows. Having full transparency with your business and business partners is key."

 

When you're creating a piece where do you start?

“It all depends on the day and circumstance. I’ve noticed since I'm right handed it’s usually the upper right hand area of the surface that is confronted first."

 

How do you know when you're done a piece?

“Hard to say. Paintings are like time stamps. I suppose when I’ve lived with a work long enough, when that time is finished the work itself is finished. Then again you could say it’s never finished until it’s realized in front of the viewers beyond my studio walls."

 

When you're in the studio what do you need to help you work?

“Music, then sometimes silence. Focus."

 

What music are you listening to?

“A lot of different things. From Hendricks to Miles to Jay Z. I’ll transition into Hans Zimmerman then to Lupe Fiasco to Mary J. Blidge. Depends on the feeling, time and day."

Last Laugh, 2021.

Last Laugh, 2021. Late 1800’s early 1900’s bronze slave transport, discarded car parts, rope, and black oxidized bricks..

 

 

What do you wear in the studio?

“Painters pants, tee, and Rick Owens Birkenstocks."

 

Do you ever feel insecure about your work?

“Without a sense of insecurity there’s really no need to feel as if you need to push your work forward. No room for what ifs."

 

Shoot for @plastermagazine.

These Songs of Freedom II, 2020.

 

 

Complete this sentence. ‘An artist should always…’

“Create with humility."

 

True or false. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

“Possibly true to a certain extent."

 

Here's a difficult question, do you have a favorite color?

“Navy blue, brown, and black."

 

Which artists do you pay attention to or think other people should be paying attention to?

“Artists that excite me are Janis Kounellis, Frank Bowling, Julian Schnabel, and David Hammonds to name a few. Artists to pay attention to today: Tschabalala Self, Spencer Lewis, Somaya Critchlow, and Coco Capitan.">

 

Heel chair, 2019.

 

As the art world becomes more digital, what are your thoughts on NFTs?

“No real thoughts on NFT’s pertaining to the world of art. I feel there’s other areas of focus that are more important to me at the moment."

 

To wrap things up on an inspirational note, name a person, place, and thing that inspires you.

“I think my dad is super inspirational in the sense that he just wants to build. That's all I want to do. So, the conversations that we have had as of late, or as I've been becoming my own man, they've really been based off of building belief systems, family, generational wealth, heritage."

 

“A place that inspires me is tough. It’s between Mexico City and Tokyo. They actually remind me a bit of each other. Tokyo is more of a grander place and definitely more industrial, but I think the things that I like about Japan are the little nooks and crannies. I like how things are kind of crammed together. I think with Mexico City, you find little essences of that. But the biggest reason why I like Mexico City is just the balance I feel between nature and city."

 

“The thing that inspires me is the act of making. The fact that you can think of something and use objects that already exist in the world in order to create something new. I just think it's like the closest thing we can get it to God, aside from women being able to give birth to children. Making something that didn’t exist at one point and then does for a minute, day, year, is just inspiring."

 

Article image by: Jesse David Harris