Stephen Scofield is a peculiar man, private, intellectual, highly intelligent. He has the making of a great artist and it is for this reason I wanted to meet the man who would be having his sculptures in Montreal’s artistic hub, Places des Arts.
On a cold Canadian day, our crew found his atelier with the zen simplicity at the entrance of showing only one work at each window. Upon entering, the atmosphere changed to a well organised artist’s studio which resembled a laboratory of experimentation. On one side were molds, on the shelves various casts of heads, tools neatly placed on desks which led me to believe that Stephen is a man who goes about his work with the precision of a swiss watch maker.
I mention this because most artists find their ateliers to be highly disorganised through the process of creative work. During our conversation I asked Stephen about his modus operandi when he is working on a piece, he pointed out that he likes to have the liberty to mold his art and not have a rigid way of preplanning the final result. This, he said, sometimes allowed him to “accidentally” discover new possibilities which gave him the liberty to take the piece he was working on to a new direction.
Artists often come up with new styles or artistic work through this form of “accidentally” arriving to new possibilities because they have allowed themselves to flexible with experimentation. Jackson Pollack during one of his interviews mentions this process of arriving at new possibilities through this form of flexibility.
As artists mature often their styles become more rigid. Rightfully, they have struck upon an idea that defined their art, much like Picasso’s cubism or Dali’s surrealistic paintings. But, Stephen is not shy to explore new possibilities which means that his art will continue to grow through the years.
For me nothing is more saddening than artist who has stopped evolving because they have found fame in a certain stylistic manner. It is like water that does not flow, become stagnant and die through time. Then there are those who lucky enough to die young like Basquiat who died at the tender age of 28 making his artwork invaluable with galleries stocking up on thousands of his art before his death to be sold later.
Stephen is very sane, artistic who prefers to produce work that continues to evolve through the decades. As we walked through different sections in his atelier, it became obvious that he has an internal process of arriving to his next artistic creation. He does what all great artists like Monet, Van Gogh have done. He observes his environment from which he draws out contradictions.
Contradictions like children who are laughing but still have “savage feel”, for example, he adds, that is the fuel for the art piece that will be going on public display this summer at Places des Arts. Personally, I found that idea of exploring contradictions fascinating because society blatantly distorts those lines of contradiction. Fashion, for example, has moved in the direction of erasing the masculine and feminine lines where clothing have androgynous feel.
I believe in art those lines have been blurred long time ago with the emergence of artists that have tested the limits of what non-art is. Today, their artworks have taken precedence, embraced by the ever changing art market buyers marked by transition of wealth to nouveau riche.
Stephen Schofield is esconded from the swift changes of taste in the art market. He has been around long before the desire to create new “artists” for the new art buyers has taken galleries by storm. In his art lives faces that he has plucked from his environment that gives a tangible element to his artworks. This human element is where imagination that conjures up scenarios in the artist’s mind finds forms that transition into reality.
He demonstrated the process of casting a mold for one of his many faces. As we filmed and photographed him, I observed that he enters into his own world where he is totally focused on the alchemy of creating artworks. He reminded me of people who forget that the phone is ringing in the next room because they have been so wrapped up in their work.
Stephen has mastered his art. As any true master would have it, he has tested different methods to arrive to the know-how of wielding various tools at his disposal to shape his creation. This expertise has led him to a teaching position at a local university which allows a younger generation of artists to learn from a master. Yet, humbleness of a true gentleman is sensed in his speech as he mentions a number of students who have followed his approach to make names for themselves.
His taciturnity lends an air of intense observance of his surroundings. In his presence you might get the impression that his reconnoiter mission is to shanghai you to his imaginary world. Yet, his appeasing responses to my questions permits me know about him in a very sincere way.
I ask him if he does collaborations with other artists. His answer further reveals that he is a solitary artist who finds working by himself produces better results. As I examine the various artworks at his studio, I sense that he works with a multitude of different materials to construct his art pieces. When I inquire about the painting on his wall, he tells me that it is his which leads me to think that he impulsively moves from working on different pieces and returning after sometime to complete each artwork he started.
After spending a complete afternoon of filming we bid him goodbye. On our way to our film studio, my thoughts continue to linger on Stephen’s answers. Certainly, he has made a strong impression upon me as an artist.
OZ YILMAZ – PORTRAGRAM