1 What is/are the primary reason(s) for you to make work in the first
on one level painting has always been a form of escapism, a space to act out fantasies, challenge myself and wrestle with personal demons. On the other hand there is tremendous satisfaction in the process, learning, unlearning, becoming attune to the pitch of my psyche and trying to understand the nature of who I am and what I want to say….as I grow older and wiser it becomes more evident that the paintings are a direct expression of my character or persona who seems to be compelled to paint an anguished humanity, tortured in dungeons or huddled miserably on the altar-steps of churches….. also like most artists I am secretly seeking admiration and love from the entire world.
2 What do you intend your work to convey to an audience?
I guess I am tackling issues like the Contemporary sublime and trying to define modern ideals of romance. To be a painter is such a romantic path to follow in itself and the clichés that come with it almost overwhelm at times. I guess to be a landscape painter is the worst of these clichés, but our recognition of beauty is based on a lifetime of clichés filtered through a moraine of cultural material. I utilize the familiarity of what landscape painting is and what it’s known to signify as a hook, to lure the viewer who establishes a relationship which is then exploited or satirized through various narrative components which often overstep bounds and challenge ideals of decorum. The paintings are in turn intended to be read as unmediated, or naïve, excessively subjective, sardonic and mischievous…… So an allegory of what I’m trying to convey might be frolicking in the hills and reading romantic poetry around the camp fire before gouging each others eyes out at sunset.
3 Why do you work in your chosen medium and format?
Because its tried and tested and follows in a history of oil paintings on panel which attempted to cater for an individuals love of luxury in the same way a Goldsmith or furniture maker might do. They are intended to act as jewel like objects to attract the viewer who may then receive a ‘kick in the teeth’ as the suggested narrative unfolds. It is also a reaction against contemporary art, enabling them to be perceived as anti-modern.
4 Technically speaking how do you go about constructing your work, that is the image or object itself? What devices do you employ?
The process I go through to create images is incredibly torturous and I don’t like to be reminded of the pain but I will look at this question as therapy! I am interested in the way things are put together, this goes for films, novels and pictures. At some point all the ingredients are floating around and the order they fall into place is affected by various contributing factors. For example; during the filming of Rosemary’s Baby Mia Farrow had a nervous breakdown and turned up on set with her hair cut short, Polanski then had to incorporate this into the film only adding to its surprising narrative. In other words I am happy to let anything of interest feed into the work as and when it presents itself to me. It’s like a cloud of ether slowly taking form as the disparate elements are pulled together….
5 Which period(s)/artists/specific works of art are you influenced by and how directly? How does this manifest in your work?
There are a huge variety of artists that feed into the work and inspire me this but changes frequently the more I discover through research. To list a few in chronological order, Durer, Baldung Grien, Altdorfer, Patenir, Bril, Elshiemer, Lorrain, Pousain, Rembrandt. If I had to pick one it is the Salvatore Rosa Painting in the National Gallery that has a spellbinding profound effect on me. His Self portrait I consider a conceptual masterpiece of the 17th century, dressed in scholarly cap and gown, lips curled in a sneer, his whole bearing seems threatening and sour; He holds a tablet with the Latin epigram – Aut tace aut loquere meliora silentio – ‘’Remain silent unless your speech is better than silence’’. I think he is sneering at the relentless noise of the modern world. What interests me is he attracted as much attention on account of his personality as his work. Essentially a ‘savage’, rumoured to have been raised by mountain bandits, a pioneer of the picturesque and the gothic horror image and super villain of the romantics. So it is the characters that evoke folklores and legends that continue to inspire me, the carravagio’s and Rosa’s of the past. Paul Thek is my favourite unsung hero of this century…. I admire him for what he stood for and how a lot of YBA work can be traced back to him. ….see ‘Death of a Hippy’
6 What stimulates/informs your work from the world around you?
The process of painting itself is very isolating and can instigate a strong sense of detachment. However the world around me seems to becoming more and more synthesized day by day. I find in the banality and filth of urban life what Morandi found in those bottles, a reason to paint. There is a lot of Dark Energy in London and tuning into this also helps fuel the process.
7 What stimulates/informs your work from your own personal experience?
I am naturally drawn to the subject of Death like a lot of people due to personal experience. However, to meditate on the subject is with the objective to ward of its terror’s, to confront it head on and defy evil. I’m not a Satanist or anything; it’s a bit like how most Death Metal musicians are actually nice, polite, well balanced people underneath it all.
Also holidays are great for stimuli. Recently I was up in the highlands of Scotland and a local informed us about a crash site up in the mountains we should visit. An American bomber crashed there in the Second World War and the wreckage remains to this day. The next day we journeyed up the mountain through mist and fog and arrived above the clouds at the most beautiful grave site I have encountered. Parts of the wreckage are still visible; a propeller protrudes from one of many tiny lakes called the fairy lochs, dotted with lily pads, reeds and other bits of debris that can be seen through the shimmering clear water. A cluster of twisted metal is respectfully placed in a tidy heap laden with weather beaten tiny American flags above which a placard lists the names of the deceased, the oldest was 29. It was a truly sublime but haunting experience which will stay with me and may resurface in my practice in some form at a later date.
8 From where do you derive your other visual source material (i.e. non art historical) and how do you implement this material within your work?
Mostly from film and literature. It could be a varied number of qualities about the film or novel that inspire me, the stillness, the unseen, a freeze frame or some activity performed by a character, the tone or intent of the writer or the melodrama of a Hollywood blockbuster. Any of these things could filter through and act as a catalyst for the realisation of an image. Kim Ki Duk is one of my favourite contemporary film makers, he deals with extreme emotional states that often push the boundaries of what is acceptable, and deals with the human condition, see ‘Spring, summer, winter, fall ‘ and ‘3Iron’. Also films like Dario Argento’s ‘Susperia’ and Franchu’s ‘Eye’s Without a Face’ inspired my creative engine. In terms of literature, Zola’s ‘Theresa Raquin’ for its morbidity, Rabbelais ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’ for its filthy humour and absurdity, Flaubert’s ‘Salambo’ for its exquisite attention to detail and its exotic allure, and Baudelaiure’s ‘Les Fleurs Du Mal’, which in turn has helped ideas to germinate. Also images from popular culture, album covers, post cards and various other found images can infiltrate the process.
9 What are the main problems that you face in making your work?
They are mostly formal concerns, compositions, colouring and the figures. You can never preconceive how the painting will look so many risks and decisions are taken along the way. The final painting could consist of many different reference points, some from my imagination, some filmic references, a drawing, a Claude Lorraine sky, a Ruisdale tree, so the problem is trying to get all these things to work in harmony. Also the tone or intent of the painting can often get out of hand but then I think maybe this is where the psychological tension lies in the work? I’m just trying to find reason amongst the madness, morality, humanity, why do I desire to depict this, can I, should I ? Desire is a powerful force and trying to repress it is a constant problem that interests me.
10 Where do you intend to take your work from here?
This change’s with every painting I do. They are becoming more dense and topographical at the moment in order to try and get more information into the painting, but this might change next week, and I’ll start emptying out the next one. I like to be challenged by the work and uncertainty is a comfortable place to be. When I have a full understanding of where the work is going it becomes stilted so I like to keep adding surprising and unexpected elements if not for my own satisfaction. The paintings might be getting a bit more saucy and sordid though.