AN INTERVIEW WITH
CONOR BACKMAN by MAURICIO VARGAS The somber artist greets me with a friendly smile as he wipes the concentration from his eyes. Having been working for hours prior to our meeting, one immediately senses the amount of dedication he puts into his work. The gentleman walks me up to his second floor, two bedroom apartment / studio, which is neatly organized from the second you enter the kitchen. Clean dishes laid out for drying, bookshelf organized for future research delving, desk unconsciously laid out in grids for ease of finding office supplies, and walls covered by the work of friends and colleagues who have graciously traded works with a mutually respected artist.
next corner sits a nearly untouched, yet equally as deceiving, life-size painting depicting a window that has been covered with brown paper. In the middle of it all sits the conductor of this orchestra. From the room’s center he works on whatever he has set out to complete for the night, and from there he can easily float around the room to his other creations as needed, and reflect on prior nights’ creations whilst still managing to produce an idea that lay at his fingers. It’s this sort of diligence and organization that speaks to the artist that is Conor Backman: extremely well-versed in art history, and possessing a skilled hand that allows him to paint like a classicist and think like a contemporist.
We further the tour through his railroad-style apartment into his minimalist bedroom which leads to his studio, where Conor Backman is working on a new chapter of his art. Having moved here not even a year ago, it is apparent that he had come to New York with a very clear plan, and intentions of maximizing his productivity as an artist through whatever limited means possible. A poster child for midnight oil burining, he makes the most of his modest studio space through partitioning of scale and approach to his multifaceted works.
None of this comes as any surprise, having known Conor since our days at Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s always had his hand in the creative consciousness of the moment, including his co-creation of REFERENCE gallery in Richmond, Virginia, which offered something new to a city not necessarily known for its export of contemporary art. Now living in New York, Conor has entered a new door in his career, showing his work internationally, and he is determined to continue iterating on his past thoughts, while seeing what the life of an artist living in New York can bring.
In one corner sits a 20 x 24 painting hanging to dry on a wall, while an eisel lays empty as if tappings its toe to be put to use. At the opposite corner is a wall of tools and a small desk, upon which sits another painting the size of a postcard, equally as detailed as its counterpart across the room, and carrying over the same amount of realism despite the limitation of space. Finally at the
Conor and I sat down to discuss his transition from Virginia, the common themes carried across his works, and where he sees himself and his art career headed. 12
The first issue