Interview by Sam Desmond
One of the few artists in the country working with the trompe l’oeil technique, Andrew Kochie has built a following and status as a leader in the Dallas-artist community. Sitting with him for the interview, Kochie’s unassuming and matter-of-fact explanations for the brilliance of his work leave the viewer in more awe of his portfolio.
Why do I have such a sense of serene peacefulness when I look at your work? Explain my gut feeling…
(Chuckling) I’m glad to hear that. I have heard that before and it’s by design.
What other similar comments have you heard?
“I really like what you do, but I don’t know why.” Take my Golden Rule paintings, while it’s abstract, the form and the imagery adhere to rules of the Golden Ratio so essentially it’s like viewing nature, even if you can’t grasp a solid representation. All my artwork has border paint too which gives that sense of order and serenity.
What inspires your paintings?
I go after the small details that really make me spark, areas of paintings that I fall in love with, and I grow those into new ideas with geometric abstraction. Often I will peek back to older concepts I have created and expand on them. Sometimes it takes more than one painting to express an idea to satisfaction. The creative process becomes even more interesting when you push the abstract into places it has never been before.
Expand on that. Where are you taking your art? You are one of the only artists to use the trompe l’oeil effects
Sure. Trompe l’oeil is similar to forced perspective in architecture. It’s an optical illusion that presets a 2D object as 3D. Currently I am working on a large exhibit of trompe l’oeil effects on aluminum panels where I can control the reflections of light refraction while giving the illusion of depth. These large works are 8ft in length and 4ft high on custom built aluminum panels.
Was there something in your background that brought you to such a unique and challenging technique?
Combined with a previous history in graphic design, I went to violin making school in Salt Lake City, Utah where I learned how to make violins, violas, and cellos from scratch. This taught me a great deal about the importance of line, curve, proportion, and classical geometry from a sculptural standpoint.
What type of paint do you use to achieve an effect like this?
I prefer using the Golden line of paint as it has the best vibrancy I have found. However I do use other types of paint when I work on aluminum due to adhesion issues and the super thin layers of paint to create optical effects. I feel the Golden paints give me the most freedom with color values.
Do you have any hidden messages in your work?
Yes. In many of my paintings you’ll see two lines either parallel or perpendicular that represent two people in a relationship.
Is that a particular person you’re in a relationship with?
Yes, my amazing fiancé, Jave—
Is he an artist also?
No. He’s a computer systems designer for medical pathology. We complement each other perfectly. No. 319 “Laughter”, one of my most famous works was my representation of “authentic, giggling laughter” of Jave. But in the abstract. It was full of color, sharp lines at different angles, and abrupt turns. The word “love” is hidden in the center of the painting.
Have you ever had logistical challenges with your artwork since light and refracting points are so important to viewing your pieces?
I think one of the most challenging pieces of work I have done was a custom piece for a client in San Francisco which took several months. It had elements of sailing in nearly all the squares. It was challenging as not only did I have to create it, but drive it across the nation and install it in downtown San Francisco.
What’s the most frustrating comment you’ve ever gotten at an art show?
“You probably wake up and work whenever you want to and have a lazy life.” I quickly and cordially corrected them that I am usually at my studio working by 8am and put in 50 hours a week or more. Strangest comment was, “Why do you paint Post-It notes?! Are those Post-It notes?” After internally screaming a little bit I tried to explain geometric abstraction blended with trompe l’oeil illusion. They walked away as if I had visually assaulted them somehow.
What is the greatest impediment young artists face in increasing visibility of their artwork? What was yours and how did you overcome it?
It takes a considerable amount of time and energy to work on marketing skills. Looking back, what made a difference was looking for opportunities online to exhibit, creating relationships with other artists and asking questions what worked well for them and what didn’t. Having an excellent website, instagram posts of your work, Facebook presence, and other social media platforms are just as important as the works you create.