We had the good fortune of connecting with David Van Gough and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Ultimately because there really isn’t anything else that could be as fulfilling-that thing Kurt Vonnegut said about it making life more bearable-art has that indelible capacity to elevate and transgress beyond merely being. Art can be a marriage full of turbulence, a religion full of doubts, of transcendent highs and debilitating lows. It can be some of the greatest personal triumphs you will ever have, opening up a world of personal discovery, give you a set of friends and values you would never of had otherwise, as well as admission onto the walls of total strangers. It can offer an introspect connection between yourself and others, an innate mirror into something that bled from your soul, something you put out into the world that people can continue to venture into, and rediscover new facets that color their own existence. That is the why and indeed the wherefore.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
More and more distinctively, I think what I do is more akin to anthropology. I’m a kind of grave robber, taking fragments from historical, literary or personal context and splicing them together to form this strange little Promethean tale. This odd assemblage of body parts, through painting, that occasionally stumbles into the art world, before retreating into exile. As I’m in the final leg of a three part series that began in 2014 with Purgatorium, through Paradiso’s Fall in 2019 and Infernal, the Denouement (scheduled for August 2021 at Dark Art Emporium), I’d say that my resolute stubbornness to see it through to the better end, has at times felt like my own personal road to Damascus. Except what sometimes feels like folly, has actually been liberating and even vindicating. It’s possibly imbued in me that old cliche, that nothing worth pursuing should be easy, that the greater reward is the journey.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Since I live in the little town of Julian, which is around an hour east of San Diego, certainly I would say taking some of the hiking trails through the Pacific Coast trail or Cleveland National Forest state parks around would be high on my list. We’d probably go boating or picnicking near Cuyamaca lakes or look out across the sprawling plains of Anza Borrego desert, possibly even to do some plein air painting. Then there would be the local mine tours,or the California Wolf center or Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary, before visiting the pockets of wineries and breweries all around, and of course Julian itself is renowned for it’s succulent apple pie, which is in high demand since it’s Octoberfest. We might end the day at the splendid Italian restaurant in town also called Romano’s, before driving out to Warner Springs to stargaze.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My goodness, I am so fortunate that there are a plethora and pantheon of people and patrons in my little obscure corner of the world, that have supported and bolstered me over the years , too innumerable to mention and too decidedly special to exclude. Of those folks deserving of a exceptional note I suppose, I’d include dear friends and curators, people such as Bill Shafer of Hyaena gallery, Jeremy Schott and Jeremy Cross of Dark Art Emporium, fellow creative journeywomen and men, Jasmine Becket Griffith, Chet Zar, Christopher Ulrich, Evgeniya Golik, Dahlia Jane, Mark Jesinoski…but so, so many. If I were to single out someone however, it would have to be my wife-Lani- whatever sun has risen or set in the studio, sometimes against innumerable odds and possible destitution, she has been there with unstinting belief, even when my own was diminished.