24TH, 2008 IMAGINARY INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE ROSE
CR: Today I find
myself within the world of William A. Noguera, an artist whose
work has recently received critical acclaim from the art establishment
in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. He is fast
becoming the talk of the art world. From his cell at San Quentin
Prison, I had the
opportunity to meet and speak with the artist.
CR: Good morning
CR: This is a unique
and rare opportunity to speak with you and see where it is that
you work. I must say, I feel trapped; it must require a great
deal of effort for you to transport from your surroundings?
Well yes, I transcend this place by finding my way back to childhood.
As I’ve said before, it is within one's childhood that
we find truth. We make real to others our innermost feelings
about all we care for.
CR: What about your
childhood do you remember most and what is it that your childhood
wants to say?
It’s not so much what I remember about my childhood that
matters. It’s the state of mind, the innocence, the way
we used to look at things. That child has a voice, and he say’s
“I am here, I am somebody, I made this, won’t you
talk about your childhood, specifically your artistic training.
A lot has been made about the fact that you’re unschooled
and self-taught. Is this true?
It is and it isn’t. What I mean is I’ve never attended
art school or an art academy, however, in my opinion, I had
the best teachers one could ask for: my parents. They are both
artists and completely different in their approach. My mother
is a painter and from the age of two, she began to instruct
me in the fundamentals of drawing. I learned technique, shading,
composition and depth perception. Then my father, who is a talented
craftsmen and sculptor, taught me how to work and learn to feel
the materials with my hands. I remember falling asleep at his
feet as he worked the night through. I owe them both a great
debt for what they gave me.
CR: You mentioned
fundamentals. How important is this to you?
It’s the beginning and the end. I’m a fundamentalist
through and through. All of my work begins with a structured
base in the fundamentals of drawing -- even my most abstract
CR: Your technique
is unique and very impressive (laughs).
Well yes, (laughs) my artistic voice is something I have worked
very hard at.
CR: Describe your
technique and talk about the ink stippling work which is entirely
Ah yes, when I draw/create in ink I like the voice ink stippling
gives me. It’s all done by placing thousands upon thousands
of micro dots together to form a hyper-realistic image.
CR: Some of your
earlier works, such as Adam's Eden and Under Nails,
are all in dots; but you continue to evolve and work in different
That is so. The desire of all artists for independence, for
newness, for originality is really the desire for revolution.
Revolution means existence for the artist.
CR: It seems that
your later work is radically different than your earlier work.
Is that because you are a different person?
The medium is maybe different, but the artist is still me.
CR: Talk about your
work as a whole. What are your intentions?
What I’m trying to say is really irrelevant. I believe
in intentional fallacy, a literary theory which holds that meaning
cannot be found in the author’s articulated intentions
but can only be gleaned by close independent reading of the
text. In the same way, if the idea is applied to the art, then
the art itself is an entity that must be judged in isolation
from its creator.
CR: Nicely put (laughs)
. Where is your work headed?
(Laughs) My work in my earlier years was very direct: Black/White,
hyper-realistic pieces like Anna May Wong and realistic
montage such as Voices Carry. These pieces have a Driven
Sincerity to them. However, along the way I began to be
driven to abstraction. I believe I’ve always been an abstractionist.
Even my realistic work is broken up into geometric abstract
forms, so the change to abstract painting was not that far of
CR: I’m looking
at Black Days and the Reinterpretation of Ophelia.
It seems you are still using ink stippling, but there’s
Yes, these pieces are ink neo-cubism, acrylic wash, with three
dimensional veins on masonite, and constituted the body of work
just prior to my embrace of abstract art. Although I continue
to work in all mediums, I have found a particular comfort zone
with all abstract painting, or action painting as many have
come to refer to this style of drip and splatter technique.
CR: We are standing
in front of Gothica, Birth, and Touch. They are stunning
pieces of work.
I think so, too . . . (laughs)
CR: Describe these
These are on masonite, multi-panel assemblage.
CR: I’m awestruck,
and I can’t help but think of Pollock.
I’ll take that as a compliment (laughs).
CR: I mean, I think
of him because of the drip and splatter technique, yet this
is fresh and entirely you.
Yes, you can see from where I have drawn my inspiration, but
I continue to use geometric forms to show the dilemma between
boundaries and desire to voice expression, the struggle for
space. These works also represent a form of sculpture.
CR: Why abstract?
You’re a very talented artist; you could have used any
form of expression.
Well, we don’t always pick the road we walk, it sort of
picks us. I look at abstract art as a beginning toward the feeling
for the old pictorial formula. One must understand that colour
has a life of its own, that the infinite combinations of colour
have a poetry and language much more expressive than the old
CR: Mention the
artists who have influenced you the most.
My parents, Pollock, Rothko, Picasso, Jasper Johns; and The
Old Masters: Rubens, David; and of course today's greats: Richard
Prince, Damien Hirst, Christopher Wool. They have all played
and continue to play a role in my development.
CR: Are you still
learning and evolving?
Life, love and art without a progression of interrelated phenomena
would be simply boring. I have the capacity to evolve further
and so I work towards that.
CR: You don’t
want to be known as a prison artist, and for that matter, you
don’t want to discuss prison. Why?
It’s very simple. I want recognition and the respect of
my contemporaries. Where I live is irrelevant to my work. I
don’t want to be a circus act. I want to be known as a
first class creator of fine art.
CR: Does prison
affect you at all?
It protects me from the tyranny of connectiveness.
CR: How so?
(laughs) No internet, cell phones etc . . . All truly profound
art requires that its creator abandon himself to certain powers
which he invokes but cannot all together control. Without interruptions,
I can accomplish this state of mind.
CR: When viewers
contemplate your art, what do you want them to think or take
away with them?
I know that I don’t want to tell anyone what to think
and I don’t create art and then hope it will be understood.
As Picasso maintained for his own work, viewers will understand
or not according to their capacity. However, I do hope my images
provoke a lasting emotional response.
CR: Where do you
want to be in 20 years?
Artistically or personally?
CR: Thank you, William
spirit already soars free through art. May he one day realize
his dream of physical freedom.