American artist Cecil Eci’Am Gresham works predominately with painting and mixed media art, but also has a distinctly digital style, resulting in his unconventional, boldly abstract imagery. Gresham’s images are an abstraction of facts. He goes beyond the first layer of matter through experimentation and independent study. He then explores the ordinary, looks for the marginal aspects of the image, and inserts it into another conceptual realm. His work has been exhibited in many group exhibitions across America at galleries such as SOHO Photo Gallery, NY; Limner Gallery, NY; BWAC Gallery, NY; Monmouth Museum, NJ; A Smith Gallery, TX; and has been published in Direct Art Magazine. We speak with the artist.
A: Tell us about the inspiration behind your latest works, Stand Alone and Haunted, and your artistic process.
CG: Haunted was inspired by singer Beyoncé Knowles’ song of the same name. I enjoy listening to it and watching the video so much that one day I decided to do an improvisational work based on the song. The work took three months to complete. The whole premise of the painting is an expansion of what I do; lines, circles, shapes and delicate bold colours. I applied many layers of paint, rinsed the canvas with water; then I reapplied another layer of paint to the canvas and began scrumming, scraping and scratching that layer away, as a way of reapplying the colour. This really takes control, time and patience. The process leaves the canvas in a lyrical frenzy of anxiety. I believe this really gives my gestural work a soul. All the remnants left in this time-consuming process are paint beats.
Stand Alone just happened, with the same application of painting process as Haunted, but I had no thought in mind when I started to paint it. It was completely arbitrary and spontaneous. The painting took many turns, from hard-edged precision to delicate yet rugged colour. I used a black canvas and black gesso mix with acrylic Ivory Black paint. The piece took about two months to complete.
A: In your previous interview with Aesthetica, you expressed a desire to homogenise digital images with the abstract expressionist style of your painting; have you continued to explore this in your recent work?
CG: I have not been very productive this year in homogenising digital imaging with abstract painting, but I did complete one work along those lines: Field of Dreams.
A: What is it about combining the mediums of painting and digital photography that excites you, and why do you think they work so well together when forming abstract images and concepts?
CG: I love the creative possibilities this marriage brings. The painting is just the foundation, a blank canvas ready to be ambushed with forms resembling ones and zeroes. What creative person wouldn’t love that kind of freedom?
A: The colours, lines and shapes used in your paintings make them striking, even unsettling. Why did you choose to mix these visual elements and what effect do you hope they will have on the viewer?
CG: When I’m creating a work, I do not ponder what the viewer may think of it.What is important to me is that the destructive self is kept at bay. When I enter that space of pure thought (which I like to think of as inhabiting a child’s state of mind), creative possibilities are limitless. Viewers might have different responses to my work, but my hope is that they will find enjoyment and meaning in it.
Discover more of Cecil Eci’Am Gresham’s work at www.eciam.com.
To see his listing in the Artists’ Directory in Issue 67 of Aesthetica Magazine, pick up a copy at www.aestheticamagazine.com.
Follow us on Twitter @AestheticaMag for the latest news in contemporary art and culture.
1. Stand Alone, 2015, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
2. Haunted, 2015, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.