Artist Marc Scheff is one of the revolutionary creatives in the 21st century. His unique techniques to create each artwork involve building layers of resin sandwiching each sheet of the artwork. Time and patience create a depth rarely seen; the more you inspect each piece, the more you can fall into the subtleties hidden within the layers. Searching further, deeper, into the mysteries hiding within the resin, Marc’s work merges the old and the new, the traditional form of portraiture with contemporary approaches. Even more beautifully, his works can range from delicate hand-held pieces to his largest works to date… more on that below!
In this interview we find out more about Marc’s evolution as an artist during 2019, and the journey he has taken along the way. We also get an exclusive look at Marc Scheff’s new artworks, created especially for Scope Miami Beach 2019, which exhibits next month in December. So get comfy and enjoy the read.
Marc Scheff – from his recent studio documentary by Insider
Interview with Marc Scheff
You have a very unique process for creating your artworks. Back in January, you shared with our readers some of your experiments and processes with resin; has 2019 seen any further developments in experimentation?
Absolutely, I’m always developing new ideas. A question I get a lot is “how did you come to this?”. It wasn’t a single moment, but rather curiosity and building ideas on top of each other, little by little. I filled 2019 with this kind of process, exploration and research. Due to a confluence of factors, I’m pushing my work more into process as both the medium and the message.
In addition to material experiments, this was the year I embraced the concept of The Seasons.
My wife (also a painter) shared this concept of The Seasons from her work with movement organizers. The basic idea is that we have seasons with our work and projects. Summer is a time of productivity and bloom, Fall we harvest the rewards from Summer, Winter we step back and regroup, Spring we plant according to the plans we made in Winter.
These seasons don’t match up with the literal seasons. You could be in your most productive time while it’s snowing outside. And they don’t happen according to industry norms, and that can be hard to manage. I think it takes a certain fortitude, as well as financial security or privilege, to be in Fall or Winter when we are surrounded by the curated endless Summer of social media. For me, I’ve learned that it’s important to pay attention to where my work is and not to try and force things.
To tie this back, after a number of projects and shows last year, I stepped intentionally into Winter. I took time to recharge, wrote a lot, experimented with materials and ideas, spent less time on social media.
As I moved into Spring and began a few new pieces, I got an invitation from Abend Gallery to be a part of their application for The Scope Art Fair in Miami in December. Fast forward, Abend was selected with my work and the work of another artist, Nathan Durfee, as well as a sculptor. The work that they selected was from my most recent and most experimental efforts. That validation was the seed for a year of new growth and a deeper dive.
Portrait of David Bowie
The working balance
What’s it like working on many different pieces at the same time? Is it a bubbling mania, or more a gentle flow from one piece to the next?
Either of those sound great! [Grins.]
It usually looks like “productive procrastination” (I did not invent the term, it’s searchable). I start a piece before I’m really ready to work on it, maybe just sketches. While I’m not actively working on it, it’s still somewhere in my subconscious. Then when I come back, it’s easier to listen to the work. If I push through a piece too quickly, I risk stagnation.
I start many pieces and leave them alone for a while, do other things or work on other pieces, and then I can really start to feel what the piece is asking for. The truth is I’m always working, in my head or with my hands, because “working” looks like many things. I work in Photoshop when I’m trying to figure out big ideas before committing permanently to board. I work on the work itself. And I consider the time spent thinking, writing, and engaging with the world part of the work. Time spent away from the work, it’s part of the work.
It’s not all easy, I deal with all the anxiety and imposter syndrome, like everyone. I have some good practices (training and meditation) and a very supportive partner. Both help remind me that my work is the sum of my observations and experiences, so I need to have some to put into the work.
Marc Scheff: artist, husband, father
You are a husband and a father as well as an artist; how does family life influence or affect your art?
An artist on Instagram asked me if one of my new pieces is a self-portrait and my response was “Isn’t everything?”. I take my role as a parent very seriously, and as Phoebe Waller-Bridge might say, I think I’m good at it, I really do – I actually do!
I think anything that is so deeply embedded in your identity will come through in the work. More specifically, there is a lot happening in the world right now, and as a parent all I see is the future for my kids. I see a mind-boggling smorgasbord of humanitarian and climate crises. I feel a strong responsibility to work towards a world that is both sustainable and just for all people. These values, and the willingness to work for them, is part of the modeling I want to do for my kids.
This absolutely works into my art on every level. The subject matter, the process, who I work with and how, down to the brass tacks of the simple act of making the work and taking it seriously, it all matters.
Portrait of Brian Molko
Scope Miami 2019
Now I hear that you have been invited to be part of a 2 person show at Scope Miami during Art Basel week this December. How does that feel?
Preeeeeeetty awesome to be honest. I’m relatively new to the contemporary art world, the world of art fairs, and to have been hand selected for this show by Abend Gallery and then separately the Scope Miami jury, yes, that feels great.
Also, a bit of pressure. This will be a debut of sorts and I want to put my best foot forward. It’s also a time to take some bigger risks and see if this new audience responds to the direction I want to take my work.
Is there a certain theme for the event?
Not that I know of. If you know, please go back in time and tell me last year…
Rising to the challenges
Was it easy to get into the swing of things for the upcoming Scope Miami Beach show?
Getting started was not easy. This was a year that I planned to step back and evaluate, see where I was and where I wanted to go. When Abend approached me and then Scope selected me and Nathan Durfee for the show, I was not in production mode. It was a little jarring to shift gears.
It was also a big opportunity, and I wasn’t going to pass it up.
I took some cues from the works in my application. There was one piece in particular that they liked, “This is Not a Riot.” It was a large piece for me at 36×72” and was one of the pieces where I took some real risks. Narrative took a backseat to materials. My experience in and of the world, my own perspective found its way more authentically into the work. I decided to work further into that space.
This brought to mind a potential triptych with that piece at the center, and that’s where I started.
I also hired my old assistant, the photographer, to do a full boudoir shoot with me as the subject. This was a very intimate project and they really got some lovely photos. I knew I wanted to work more with the male figure, and what surprised me is how the photos of my own figure helped me dig deeper into some of my ideas around gaze and perception, in a truly personal way.
This is Not a Riot
This is Not a Riot – final triptych
Why Scope Miami?
Why do you think Scope Miami and Art Basel are so influential and, in a nutshell, a great art event to visit?
I think the art week in Miami is just the best place to see just a ton of work all at once. My work alone is pushing 1000 pounds (that’s a #dadjoke about the word “ton,” I told you I take my parenting seriously). There are 30+ fairs, lots of events, and lots of opportunity artists and collectors to meet and build relationships. I’d say it’s a great place to become a collector too.
Scope itself is one of the biggest international fairs with a strong focus on emerging artists. These are the places to pick up work from artists who are starting to make a splash and getting noticed by the larger community of collectors and the art world in general.
The Miami location is also smart, being fairly easily accessible to the US, Europe, and Latin America.
The largest, most ambitious work to date
Are there any particular pieces exhibiting at Scope Miami this December which audiences should keep their eyes out for?
Booth C27, Abend Gallery. I am currently completing my largest and most ambitious work to date. The work is a triptych comprised of 3 panels, each at 36×72, resulting in a 9-10 foot wide and 6 foot high display.
I am also showing two large self-portraits which bring a lot of my process and exploration into play. We will have a number of small works on view as well.
Abend is also showing Nathan Durfee, and David Lipson’s work. I think it’s a really well balanced roster with good range. The other booth I know I’ll check out is Haven Gallery, also at Scope. They’re showing the work of Chie Yoshii, Kukula and Camilla d’Errico, and some work from Daria Aksenova and my friends Travis Louie and Omar Rayyan. I’m pretty excited to get up close to all their work.
Marc Scheff will be in Miami at the Scope Art Show from December 2-4 2019 at Booth C27, Abend Gallery stall. He will also be sending out a free PDF catalog via his mailing list prior to the show – to stay up to date, be sure to join his newsletter!
Marc Scheff Social Media Accounts