Form to a voice

Questions for Carl Klimt
By IAN PAIGE  |  July 2, 2008

"Dear Love, And Dreams" | works by Carl Klimt | through July 5 | at June Fitzpatrick Gallery, 112 High St, Portland | 207.772.1961
Carl Klimt’s solo show at the June Fitzpatrick Gallery on High Street features small, playful works simultaneously fragile and determined. Only 24 years old, Klimt has transitioned from his studies at Bowdoin College to a life in Portland as a professional artist and an adventuresome alter ego that has traversed as far as Antarctica. Prior to the interview, he discussed his recent trip to New Zealand to rock-climb and meet aviation experts in the time it took us to climb the stairs to my studio.

Seeing your work and meeting you in person makes it very clear that storytelling is important to you. Can you identify where this comes from?
When I went to college, I wanted to be an English major but I wasn’t very good at writing. I didn’t write the way they wanted me to write — I was very spacey and all over the place — but that’s what I wanted to chase. Art better accommodated that desire for me. I can go anywhere I want to with any story. It’s a wonderfully free format in that structure exists but it’s far more lenient.

Experience, exploration, adventure, and seeking is very important to how I want to live my life. That’s where the personal growth comes from. I try to balance my life between two things: 1) going out into the world, 2) being locked in a room with studio time. Art is the best thing I’ve found in my life, professionally, to pursue dreams, but the dreams don’t mean very much without these other experiences.

If you do too much of one without the other, things tend to get a bit...
Wonky? And sometimes it’s hard to simply exist after a big run in the studio. You feel as though you’re cheating yourself, like you should be doing more work. It takes a little time to find the balance. I follow things I’m interested in and they give form to a voice.

Talk to me about that voice. Particularly the short textual elements found in your work.
I think of those elements as one-line poems. I’ve got this buddy in Antarctica that’s always talking about wolves. He’s one of the most emotive people I’ve ever met, very driven and very focused. I don’t think he finished high school but he was so well-read, a curious person with an insatiable hunger for the world at large, a fellow experiential creature. Very inspiring to me. His birthday came and I wrote this card for him. “the wolves search for alex.” The idea (is) that there are wolves on the other side of the globe running around the Northern Territories of Canada while he’s in Antarctica. The world is a big place.

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