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Darkness Thrashing Into Light: Interview with Carl Dimitri

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Axial Age

Carl Dimitri is a painter living in Providence.

Maria Anderson: How would you describe your process at the moment? Has it changed over the years?

Carl Dimitri: It was always like a suicide mission in the early days. I've had to learn patience over the years. Lately I've gotten better at waiting and seeing. 

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Objet Petite A

MA: What is most important to you in your work? Where do you make compromises, and where do you adhere to instinct without shifting?

CD: I'm always aiming to be true. I figure if I can be true then I'm making no compromises. But every once in a while I find myself seeking to please some imaginary audience. I am secretly asking myself, will they like this? At that point I'm appealing to an external authority and I'm dead.

I feel like I run on instinct at all times in the studio. If the rational mind enters into it, I am dead.

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Cosmic Fox

MA: Your work has a lot to do with repetition and multiplicity. You said you were trying to represent in some way the global deaths that are occurring. How would you frame the work you're doing now?

CD: I've been occupied with climate change and mass extinction of species on the one hand, and the possibility of a mass awakening on the other. An awakening of this kind would take place at the level of consciousness. All things are connected at this level. This is where the light enters, yes? It seems like all the work right now revolves around these ideas.

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Herculaneum

MA: You also mentioned you were going to spend the summer trying to reach another level, or a different level, in your work. How do you go about doing this?

CD: Most of it depends on just showing up and being there as much as possible. I have to be tough and a lunatic. I need a kind of faith and I have to be fearless. I can't go in there and be tentative. 

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Ellington Live in London

MA: You work out of a really interesting place in Providence. Do you happen to know the history of the building or that group of buildings? What is it like working in your studio in the summer? What's the feel that you get from this place, and how do you think it fits in to the painting you're doing?

CD: It's incredibly hot in there in the summer and incredibly cold in the winter. They used to make helicopters in there in the 1940s and '50s. There's a perpetual gas leak in there now. I like the people there and there are dogs and wild cats. It's a filthy monastery. A train rolls by every few hours. Sometimes the heat and cold stop you in your tracks, but mostly it's just right.

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Colony Collapse

MA: Could you explain the thing you were telling me about the changing of the pole star? And the point in time we're at right now, that some believe means we're about to enter a Golden Age?

CD: From what I understand, Polaris, or the North Star, is our present pole star, and we may be transitioning to a new pole star called Vega. There is also talk that we are moving out of the Age of Pisces and into the Age of Aquarius. This is all bad science, but I'm just interested in the idea that we may be stumbling upon a new world age.

There are traditions in Eastern and Greek philosophy that speak of world ages, which run from the golden to the silver, bronze and iron. The last Golden Age would have existed in pre-history. We have no record of it, only the myths that reflect it. It's cyclical. So if we are now at the end of an Iron Age, with darkness thrashing about and the planet in ecological crisis, then we are also on the brink of a Golden Age. All of this is bound up in myth. But I feel like there's some wisdom in it that transcends politics and organized money. 

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Oligarchs

MA: Which contemporary artists are you most excited about? What about old masters you continue returning to? 

CD: For living artists, I like Bjarne Melgaard, Rosson Crow, Julie Mehretu, and Scooter LaForge. And I love nearly all of the old greats: e.g., Beuys, Warhol, Twombly, Matisse, Cezanne, etc. I've recently been looking at Giotto and Piero della Francesca, and am kind of amazed at their rawness. 

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