Tully Satre is an American artist, who has studied at the Royal Academy of Arts London and the Art Institute of Chicago, a widely exhibited and awarded artist that leans towards geometric abstraction and post modernism. We were privileged to view his work at the recently opened Saatchi suite at the Hyatt Churchill London. The artwork of Tully displays a layered mechanism providing a depth of concept and a sense of modernity. We love his colour, his personality and his intrinsic artistic talent. We are very excited to see how Tully develops his obvious unique ability in the future, especially with projects that are moved away from the canvas such as his American Cube and visually stunning films! Thank you so much Tully for talking to us!
Self taught or art school?
I moved to Chicago when I was eighteen to go to a theatre school, but I found myself spending more time painting in my dorm. Within the first semester I decided to transfer to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I received my BFA. After I graduated I was accepted to do my postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, but I ended up only being able to complete a one-year residency with the RA due to some complications with my visa. That said, I usually say that it was a little bit of both: self-taught and art school. You do not go to an art school to become an artist; you go to art school because you are an artist.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
This is going to sound super-deliciously ridiculous, but I stupidly sold the first woven canvas piece that I made and I would love to have it back. I was desperate and poor at the time. Actually, I am still desperate and poor, but I am much more careful about what I do and do not sell. I keep thinking of ways I could convince the collector to sell it back to me, but I am afraid I would not be able to afford it. I feel like I sold my first-born or something.
But, you know, I’d totally settle for a Josef Albers.
Or pretty much anything with red.
How would you describe your style?
I had a professor at the Art Institute who was really influential for me. When I first showed her my work I talked about what I thought was my ‘style’ and she told me to never use that word again. For me, placing a category over my work sets an unhealthy precedent. I prefer to leave it up to the viewers (or critics, if they’re out there) to describe my style.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Well, I called the Art Institute of Chicago home for four years and I really feel like that museum is my home. It was definitely the place I learned so much about art. Spending intimate time with that collection over the course of my studies there was very important to my way of thinking about art. I really understood the importance of ‘looking’ at the Art Institute. I know this sounds like a commercial, but it’s a special place for me.
When I lived in London, I had my studio in the Royal Academy and the School was an amazing place to see art. The caliber of the work at the School is stellar and I learned a lot from my colleagues there. Outside of the RA, I really enjoyed visiting the National Gallery.
In Santiago, where I live now, I just saw a really great show called ‘Sub 30’ at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Quinta Normal. The show exhibits a large group of Chilean artists under thirty-years-old. It’s my favorite show I have seen in Chile in the past six months. It really shows that the younger generation of working artists here is sharp. Hopefully the museums and galleries in Santiago will continue to look back to Chile’s contemporary artists for future shows.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
Josef Albers is very important to me. His work about color helped me understand how to use color in my own work. I am a fan of Jim Isermann, especially his woven and textile work, which really speaks to me as an artist that falls somewhere in between textile and painting. I really love Agnes Martin’s grids, but I think that every artist should read her writings, too. I love Vija Celmins’ drawings for their delicacy. I just came across the work of Sheila Hicks, who had a Fulbright to study in Chile in the fifties. She makes a lot of fiber work and I can see myself going more in that direction.
What or who inspires your art?
Chuck Close scared me out of inspiration and I have found that, anyway, I work best when I am busy. If I am not busy, I tend not to work and if I do not work, I get depressed. Thus, I give myself a lot of homework. Reading is very important to me and my library is diverse. Travel and spending time in cultures and languages that are unfamiliar to my own has proven to play a big part in my personal development as an artist. I try not to question my interests too much, but instead allow them to be realized and to be okay with things without a linear connection other than a tickle in my gut. I feel fiercely motivated after going to the movies. And I’ve found that I always feel like a boss after a visit to La Vega, which is the central market in Santiago. When all else fails, I just watch Katy Perry’s documentary.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
I don’t have one. When I first moved to Santiago in September I was adamant about finding a studio as quickly as possible. After a couple dead-ends, I finally found one, moved-in and spent a couple months fixing it up—it was in an old house in the historic center of the city. After a mix-up with the lease, I ended up having to leave and I took it as a sign that I needed to be outside of the white box for a while. I spent so much of my time in London confined to my studio. That said, I am patiently waiting for the right space to surface and working out of my apartment and the studios of my colleagues throughout Santiago. Chile is unlike anywhere else I have ever worked so being without a studio is best for now.
Do you have any studio rituals?
I have an RGB flag that I designed which I like to have with me at all times, even when I am traveling. If it’s not too cold, I prefer to work without a shirt. I also wash my hands a lot when I am working, which is not very practical.
What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on a painting using the image of the yellow-haired king, which is a character I created after I moved to Santiago. It’s the beginning of my narrative in Chile and will underline the body of work I am creating for an exhibition in Santiago in about a year.
Where can we buy your art?
The best place to buy my work right now is through Saatchi Art. Living in Chile and having my work in three different countries has been a challenge, but Saatchi has made it very easy for collectors to invest in my work. www.tullysatre.com
What are your ambitions?
For me, being an artist has two sides that are co-dependent: public and private. I saw a TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert that has been very important to my thinking the past couple of years, especially with all the chaos of being constantly on the move. She wants to revive this idea that artists are not the sole vessels of their work and that instead, they are in constant collaboration with forces that exist outside of themselves. Have I lost you yet? At any rate, this way of thinking has been much healthier for me than anything else I’ve come across and she sums it up very nicely. With that in mind, I hope that privately I can continue to have a collaborative relationship with my work that continues to evolve in ways I did not deem possible as little as six years ago. Publicly, I want my work to have an audience and to influence culture. I don’t expect to blow-up overnight; I am content with taking my time. I learned a saying in Spanish here, ‘Tiempo al tiempo.’ Basically it means, ‘Give time, time.’ I think that’s one of my biggest challenges as an artist who grew up with the onset of Google. Growing up, everything was at my fingertips and it was instant: coffee, oatmeal, the internet. I am afraid of losing myself in speed or moving too fast for my biology. Being in Chile is a lesson in patience for me. I want to take my time as an artist. Being a painter takes time and is completely anti-intuitive to the era I grew up in. Maybe it’s even radical.