For my last article, I had contacted several Sussex alumni who had gone on  to become successful artists. In doing so, I got more responses than I  expected. One of which was from multi-media artist Naomi Kremer who I  was lucky enough to have a chat with. This is what we spoke about. 

I want to start off by talking about your early life in Israel. Can you  remember much from it and if so how did it impact your art?  

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question before. Well I left Israel  when I was about 8 years old. I don’t know if you know any 8 year olds but  they’re pretty sentient. My first language was Hebrew which is written from  right to left, and I very often work on paintings from right to left. Even though  English is my main language now, I still have a deep tendency to respond to  motion in that direction. Another thing is that I still have clear visual snippets  of memories and a sense of yellowness. Its a hot, desert country and I find  myself more interested with these landscapes. I find they go more deeply  into my consciousness. 

Were you doing art at that age?  

Well I loved to draw as a child but I also remember being very taken with the  Hebrew alphabet. I remember when I first learned to write. The method then  was to trace over letters so I just remember tracing this huge aleph. It still  continues to interest me, its definitely part of the mark-making way that I  work.  

I know that from Israel you moved to New York but how did you end up  in Sussex?  

Thats a really long story, I’m not sure you have enough space for this story. I  went to India for a year abroad in 1973 because I was with someone at the  time who was doing Indian history. I left after 2 or 3 months because of a war  that was going on at the time. I met an English man who had been travelling  around the world. We travelled around together and after a few months of  this, we met up in London. I was finishing my senior year at the London  school of economics – don’t ask me why. I worked for a year and then went  back to get an MA at Sussex in Art History. My tutor was Norbert Linton and  he was quite a prominent art historian at the time.

What do you remember from your time at Sussex?  

I don’t have very many memories, I have to admit, but I do remember  Norbert’s seminars. There were only about five graduate students and we  focused on the modern period. I got very interested in abstract  expressionism and my thesis was about this. My work has some relationship  to that, although its funny how the movement has become so maligned  because of its political connection to a retrograde, very macho way of  working. But I was very interested in that way of working. It was very intuitive  and very additive and that’s the part I took away from it. My work is built on a  series of impulses and the impulses can come from any number of different  sources whether it be literary, musical, visual or poetic. All of these things  come together to create something that I want to see actualised in a  painting. I’m also very interested in thinking about different types of mark making and hand writing – how specific it is to each person and the fact  you can’t get away from it. You can try to get away from it though, and all  those ways of trying are another way the paintings come about. For  example, using rubber stamps or masking or stamping letter forms and  maybe even inventing alphabets. So yeah… where was I? 

Can you talk a little bit more about abstract expressionism and why it  became somewhat of a problematic movement?  

First of all, it was a group of men and there were few women involved. It  started around the cedar tavern where Jackson Pollock and Willem de  Kooning used to get drunk. It was very macho. There were women who have  subsequently been recognised to be equally great artists like Elaine de  Kooning and Lee Krasner who was married to Pollock, but at the time they  were very much second fiddles, supporting their husbands work. So that’s a  very annoying thing to look back on. There was also a show sent out by the  United States that traveled around Europe and was very successful. But that  eventually became tied to American imperialism which gave it a pretty bad  after taste. 

Do you think you also want to stray away from a particular label?  

I definitely want the freedom to work in any way that I find stimulating and in  any direction that draws me. I really got involved with video at the end of the  90’s. Motion has always been fascinating and people always say there is lots  

of motion in my work. I actually started making these hybrid paintings in  2008 which are paintings on which I project video. I was commissioned to do  a video based set for an opera, bluebirds castle by Béla Bartók. In the  process of working on that, I ended up with so much video footage. I had all  this leftover footage and I was about to do a show at the Knoedler gallery in  New York. I was getting ready for that show and one day I turned a projector 

onto a painting and I was so surprised by the visual effect because it has a  depth that you don’t get either looking at a video or a painting. Its  perceptually a very interesting form and I became very interested in the fact  that you can’t see it any other way but in person. 

You work with a lot of different mediums. To round off, I wanted to ask if  you ever find this overwhelming and if there is any advice can you offer  in regards to this?  

It’s both harder and easier. It’s easier from the point of view that you never  get stuck in one medium because I know artists in general, in any medium  talk about getting ‘stuck’ with creative blocks and that kind of thing. If you  just shift over a little bit and do something a little different then you’re  

unstuck. Then, when you come back to the first thing you’re not stuck  anymore. But on the other hand you can be torn about which medium to  choose. You really just have to go with your gut. Link to Naomie’s website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *