Ross Bleckner

Ross Bleckner Describes His Daily Routine

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The painter talks about the meditative aspects of sweeping his studio floor.

Ross Bleckner

Ross Bleckner received his Bachelor of Arts degree from NYU and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia California. He is well-known for his large-scale paintings in the art world and his works have been shown in esteemed public collections throughout the world, including MoMA, MoCA, Astrup Fearnley, Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Mr. Bleckner is also recognized as the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In addition to Mr. Bleckner's works, he has taught at many of the nation's most prestigious universities. Additionally, he is president of Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA), a non-profit community-based AIDS research and treatment education center.


Question: Do you follow a creative process when you work?

Bleckner: My personal process is one of maintaining a very, I would say, monastic discipline.  I mean, I essentially do the same thing everyday, 7 days a week.  And I’ve done that for years besides from the things I have to do, besides from socializing, which I like to do occasionally, aside from traveling, which I like to do less now that I’m older, and that you have to take off your shoes.  I basically go to my studio and… You know, as trivial as it might seem to somebody else, it is always something… It’s always a little problem that needs to be figured out.  So I feel like my studio is a laboratory, you know.  And, you know, there is a sense of alchemy, there is a sense of chemistry, there is a sense of joy, there is a sense of the pleasure that I have in playing with these stuff, paint the stuff, you know, that I basically understand, on some level, you could garnish it with all kinds of theoretical constructs.  But it’s a person alone in a room, making things with their hands.  And I like to keep it that simple, a lot of days.  And when you’re making things and when you have your little cottage industry, there’s always something to do.  When I go to my studio, I start up by sweeping the floor.  I start out by making sure everything’s in order.  I start out by trying to make sure my mind is clear.  And then, I think about the problem that didn’t get solved yesterday.  And that opens it up for me.  So I think that’s the process.  What’s the problem today is the question I ask myself.  There always seems to be something. 

Question: What gives you happiness in your work?

Bleckner:    I’m most happy when I… I’m not distracted when I’m working, when I could go to my studio, when I, somehow, could live in that presence, that presence in the [present].  And I could do it repetitively so that you kind of build up a steam.  You know, it’s like an engine, it’s like a percolator.  And sometimes, it just becomes, you know… It really becomes a kind of a concentration that’s so pure that I think is both playful and imaginative and opens up all kinds of new possibilities for me.