When I look back on the New York art scene, I recall the flavorful graffiti on every block to the eye-catching galleries. The artful environment keeps society thinking. John McCarthy was the artist I watched out for when I went back to the stimulating burg of Manhattan. His work is universally inviting to the eye, as his work thrives on pure shape and poised texture. McCarthy's work balances color and form, and is situated in different spaces that change the way one experiences the environment around them.
It makes sense for McCarthy’s artwork to live in such stunning architectural spaces in New York, as the work overrides the form of modernity for the art world existing to this day. Viewing his art brings many to a new place of understanding, which either sparks some sense of what if, or initiates broadening perspectives. The work nods toward what contemporary manifestations mean currently in 2022.
I engaged in deep conversation with John McCarthy to see how his mind works when it comes to creating brand new ideas in his process. Conversing with the contemporary genius made me realize how modern art should become a vehicle towards higher art.
The Words Between Us
Elle: How’s the New York art scene treating you these days?
John: The art scene is coming back after the pandemic with the admission of patrons and visitors to galleries and shops. However, the pandemic has also ushered in a new way of doing business for better or worse. Most of my sales are with clients and collectors who locate me on the internet, Instagram, or through my website. Certainly, there is likely a broader audience that can be reached through the electronic medium, but I think we can agree there is something lost in the lack of human connection and interaction with a client and collector and viewing a work of art in person.
Elle: It’s a lot going on in society right now. Any schemes or notions running through your intellect?
John: Honestly, I am not too political in my art work. While I believe it has a definite place in the art world, I believe that the current state of affairs and world status could use a bit of escapism from reality. For example, I am not sure I would want to hang something on my wall and look at it every day from here on out that reminds me to COVID and lockdowns and masking. Hopefully, the work I am creating is inspiring and pleasing to the eye of the client and collector and will age well as they say.
Elle: Describe how you manifested such a balanced vision within your art?
John: I approach balance in two ways. First, I am inspired by the imperfections and asymmetrical balance that is present in all nature. It can be said that beauty in nature lies not in perfection and precision, but in the fact that it is a conglomeration of elements and patterns and lines that draws the beholder’s eye toward one or more features. Second, I often explore the symmetrical balance that is presented when one views nature and color through a window or in a framed context. Combining the asymmetrical and symmetrical provides an opportunity to appreciate precision and order of things while beyond there lies the beautiful ordered chaos of color and nature.
Elle: What’s your mind running through when you create such abstract works?
John: Music plays a very large role in my painting. For the last couple of years, I have been trying to channel the emotions and energy of music into my works. The music, whether it be rock, punk or electronic, provides a platform for expressing the raw emotive elements of a song or album with movement and energy of the union of music and art. In this way, my mind is focused more on the expressive and emotional elements of the paintings rather than the confines of the boundaries of where the piece should go or end up.
Elle: Do you know the hues you will work with before you start creating a new piece?
John: In almost all instances, I am guided by the color combinations of the master Japanese colorist Sanzo Wada. A pioneer before his time (1883-1967), I find the combinations to be not only brilliant and contemplative, but also reminiscent of my time in Japan. With these color combinations as a guide or starting point, I am able to expound on the palette with various gradations and hues of the basic colors. That is not to say that there are times when I go off the rails and find the introduction of some color to be striking or unexpected…
Elle: How do you go about making the world a better place each day?
John: The lockdowns and the like should have taught everyone a couple of valuable lessons, but from the reports coming in perhaps some did not grasp the material. The recent pandemic should have taught us to appreciate our family, neighbors, and, friends and society in general as a source of humanity and necessary interaction. We should have a renewed appreciation for all the things that we could not do for a couple of years. Moreover, it should have instilled an appreciation that for all of one’s problems there are probably many others who have issues and problems far worse than those through which you are struggling. Understanding that, I work on not “being that guy” who does not appreciate the small things or takes out frustrations on innocent civilians who happen to be within range. Think of others and their possible plight before you impose your issues on them as they likely have enough to deal with at the moment. In that way, we would be a better society and individuals.
Elle: What’s next for you?
John: I am working every day to be a better painter and seeking a broader audience for my work. As we reopen and human relationships are once again established and prized, it is my hope that a new phase of my adventure can begin. I wish this for myself and all the artists who create and make our existence here more interesting.
Living in society full of questions and contrasting feelings, it is the fact that life is filled with the simple notions of being human. McCarthy's work brings me to a coeval state of mind, which is imperative to recognizing the modern creative process of language and art.