Savannah artist Troy Wandzel creates over 20,000 self-portraits
“Can you stir the soup enough to make it so thick it won’t budge?” Troy Wandzel asked rhetorically during our conversation for this week’s episode of Art on the Air.
A strange way to start an art column, perhaps, but in context, the commentary made a lot of sense.
The painter, who is also known for working in various sculptural forms as well as conceptually, spoke of his propensity for self-portrait. Believe it or not, but Wandzel estimates that he cautiously executed over 20,000 such plays, a staggering number that people who follow his work probably find quite plausible, given how pretty his face looks. become ubiquitous in Savannah.
“And now the self-portrait has evolved to no longer represent me,” he explained. “And if you think about these elements, especially the plaster self-portraits, they are more of a key or a map legend: symbols.
“What does Troy’s face now represent?” ” He asked.
So, metaphorically speaking, soup has ceased to be soup.
“I’ve done enough where it’s not me anymore,” Wandzel continued. “I basically painted self-portraits, and that’s how my mind works, until I was no longer interested.
“So one day I woke up and didn’t paint a self-portrait: I didn’t even notice,” he continued. “The next day, I no longer painted a self-portrait. I didn’t need it anymore. And that was it.
Wandzel was often a philosopher during our nearly two-hour conversation in his studio. He became especially considerate after I agreed to be the subject of a painting, which he worked on as we spoke.
That said, her deep considerations about her work, our local art community, and her place in the Artist and the Truck collective often lead to some very straightforward and straightforward accomplishments on the part of the artist.
The reason he started using himself as the most frequent role model, for example, echoes the directness of his reason for quitting.
“The self-portraits all started because I was painting people from life, and between people, I need to paint something from life,” he said. “And the only thing that was around was me. That’s it.”
When it comes to the nature of painting and painting, the artist is also confident in his conclusions, a trait that many artists certainly possess. But in Wandzel’s case, that doesn’t seem unwarranted or arrogant, given his combination of experience and success.
Looking at his studio, for example, a keen eye will recognize just how functional it really is, even if it looks like a disaster on the surface.
While he painted my portrait, he made me sit in a chair next to a window, which allowed for an abundance of beautiful natural light, with a lovely breeze and the soothing sound of jingling chimes. Her easel was right in front of where I was sitting, while a second chair facing the window created the third leg of a sort of triangle in the small nook of open floor space. During the brief periods when the artist paused painting, Wandzel would sit in this third space, allowing him to see both his painting and me, his subject, with the window in between.
“I come from this painting school where efficiency was key,” he noted. “Thoughtful brushstrokes. You think about it, then you place it. This dynamic that doesn’t happen in a lot of people is working. I know the truth behind it all, and this tactile quality that occurs through it. And that beautiful accidental brushstroke that happens.
“The studio is in its truest form an extension of the artist,” he added. “And all of this information describes the way I approach the artwork, this kind of controlled chaos. Things are getting organized. Things are known where they are. But sometimes you have to push things.
And then there’s the smell.
“Believe it or not, 98% of the world has never smelled turpentine,” Wandzel said of the powerful scent that permeated the space. “It’s the only smell I can associate with the paint. Because if you don’t have the smell in your studio, I don’t think you are a painter. It is a major variable. It definitely triggers something that we should be triggering as artists. “
Right now, Wandzel is working on a new body of work, but don’t expect to find the latest pieces on social media, or even in the open air where visitors to his studio like me can see what he’s doing. He is holding his new management “close to the waistcoat,” he said, although he admits that those who pay attention can find clues via his Instagram posts @troywandzel.
In the meantime, we will have to do with the one-off works he submits to the Location Gallery group exhibitions, or his contributions to the next Artist and the Truck group exhibition, the date and location of which should be announced soon.
“So the answer if anyone is interested in what I’m doing, put your nose in the air, see which way the wind is blowing, and maybe see if Troy surfaces,” he said. .
Art off the Air is a complement to the radio show “Art on the Air” hosted by Rob Hessler and Gretchen Hilmers. The column can also be found at savannahnow.com/entertainment.
The show airs Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on WRUU 107.5 FM Savannah and WRUU.org.