Draw The Line - T. Stefan Gesek
“There is a whole world of people not being represented in images. I’m not about idealizing. I’m trying to find the character and talk about humans and our imperfections.”
Stefan Gesek is influenced by the Ashcan painters of the early 20th century. His interest lies in portraying the raw everyday life of people on the streets. Each character begins with a line drawing. Whether it becomes a six-foot cutout or a ceramic head, his line activates these characters and is reminiscent of the poignant lines in George Grosz and Otto Dix.
In this exhibit “Draw The Line” you will walk through a world of people Stefan has created, sometimes humorous, sometimes thoughtful. These six foot characters cut in MDF stand around the floor, while the ceramic heads drop from the ceiling and ‘The "XXOOS" Notes” he drew for his wife Peggy every morning, show the process behind the figures and how his mind is creating and navigating between different scales and mediums.
“You have to put yourself in a situation where you’re surprised. It’s a very deliberate thing.”
This is exactly what Gesek does with the materials he works with, studying its nature and capitalizing on it. The glazes he uses for his ceramic heads have the quality of the Horses from the Tang dynasty unearthed after hundreds of years. “You have a pretty good idea as to what your glazes will look like but when you fire your work up to 2300 degrees’ things change. When you open the kiln door you are always presented with something unexpected, that you’re going to have to live with. Glaze and clay are live organic mediums, and you have to try and work with it to understand it enough, to send it in the direction you want it to go.” Stefan’s approach to art is to remove the ego.
“Each piece begins with a quick life sketch, it’s a note to self. Something about a person, the way they walk, or the age lines around the mouth, or the shape of an arm. Back in the studio I do 20 or more interpretive brush and ink studies. Thru this process I’m trying to remove the representational line and find the gesture and emotion. I exhaust the inspiration and put everything away. Days later when I return to the project the work is fresh and I am always surprised by what I find.”
Gesek's work is powerfully intuitive, developed over years of practice. His portraits and figures are an unconscious reflection of his thoughts and emotion, in turn the work becomes a reflection of humanity because we all share the same experience -- life. In a small Venice Beach bungalow, surrounded by his work, Stefan lives with Peggy, their two Bullmastiffs, ‘the girls’, an old feral cat and a rabbit named Nadine. Everywhere you sit or stand you are greeted by the work. Four portraits on ceramic platters share your shower in the morning and when you sit down for a cup of tea, you are faced with the portrait of Siobhan or Mr. Greenglass.