Q1. Can you tell me your motivation in making the piece you’ll be showing with us?
A. As part of my graduate show, this work has poignance for it is a result of a breadth of experimentation both through physical techniques and the concept.
Materiality is an ongoing interest and this is demonstrated through my playful collaging of methodologies such as the heavily impasto, sculptural surface which is made up of latex and air-drying clay to achieve an effect that looks so 80s.
I wanted to create a range of paint modalities and so I fused the latter technique with spray paint, airbrush and even industrial fence paint.
This ultimately was an exploration of art historical codes. But I suppose, I’d use the gay pornography as a sort of anchor for a socio-political message about queer identity or it was to exploit bad taste.
In this way, I achieved what I set out to do as I was motivated by humour, the duplicity of queer culture, ie. camp and the investigation into various semiotics.
Q2. The abstraction of the figures in this piece are really compelling, can you tell me about why you did that?
A. The figurative abstraction had a few reasons behind it. As part of an exploration into the performative camp style, I was responding to digital media as a popular apparatus for self-mediation, where by identities, meanings and information is warped or can glitch, travelling as data, as a body of pixels. Through over-distorting these stock pornographic images on photoshop with basic tools, it should connote a comedic interpretation of cyber-space and post-internet art as a canon. Yet, there are relevant tones to this form of abstraction such as internet censorship where especially prevalent for artists on Instagram, a platform that has recently and drastically changed how we digest art. It also relates back to the glitch in communication, an untruth in meaning or the fake news frenzy.
Q3. Your piece will be the largest we’ll be showing upon opening, what was the purpose of the scale you chose?
A. I have always enjoyed painting larger scale. The process is a lot more physical and I suppose I have a romantic affection towards the American ideology, the action painters, who were just getting by, but made these incredible and dramatic works.
Throughout my practice, I always try to generate the effect that theatre or cinema has.
I get a lot of ideas from watching cult or art house films, some of my favourite directors are John Waters, Alejandro Jodorowsky or Derek Jarman. They’re great resources for painters but I love all sorts of film, including contemporary. Drag as well, the performance, the under-belly and fabulation of it. Rave culture, living in Leipzig in East Germany definitely influenced the language I paint in, I imagine my paintings have a lot of response to techno music.
When I paint, I think of how I can translate these elements of performance and to move away from the art object into an experience, and the best place to start is scale. However, I do appreciate the joy of smaller scale paintings, especially during lockdown!
Q4. Your work is quite socially engaged, do you consider it educational as you’re drawing people’s attention to issues they may otherwise be unaware of?
A. I think the choice to depict the figures in the way I did, can be seen as a celebratory expression. A lot of the reading I was doing, from artists and writers living in the 20th Century, it resonates how heteronormative power structures had marginalised and criminalised the gay community. As an effect, the gay underground flourished. A process of embracing the criminal and deviant archetypes as a result of persecution. Poet’s like Gene Jenet who appeared in the groundbreaking film, Un Chant D’amour in 1950, who wrote as a gay prisoner and created homoerotic fantasies. Genet would subvert the male gaze, making himself a sexual spectacle to be looked at, along with a chemistry with his onscreen lover, that embodied gay behaviours like cruising. I’ve learnt that queer identity is a process of re-ownership, of contradictions in meaning, there’s a play in binaries and semantic forms of objects and subjects, good and evil, masculine and feminine, that appear throughout queer culture, but these duplicities provide the necessary intersections for queer social mobility.
I’ve learnt that queer history is a very rich and complex lesson and my work has a lot of response to this. It’s partly autobiographical, partly contextual and more importantly, it re-examines this canon in the time we live in. It’s both an expression of gratitude for the progress made socially and a license to mis-behave.
Q1. What attracts you to the images that you select?
A. I guess a lot of what I choose makes the cut because it's got something dynamic about it. The best collages are composed of lots of noisy imagery in my opinion so I look for bright colours, textures and unusual shapes. Once you start combining a bunch of striking shapes they interact with each other in unpredictable ways which is where the fun happens.
Q2. Do you have an image in your head when you start? If not when does it become clear?
A. I have tried to create collages with an idea in mind and it never works out. I just let the materials guide my designs. I often choose one image I find inspiring and add to it and in that way it grows by itself but I think that having a picture in your head and trying to create it from collage materials leads to madness.
Q3. Is there a message or theme within your work?
A. I don't know if there's a message really but I do want (to steal from Marie Kondo) to spark joy with my images. It sounds superficial but I like pictures that make me smile, that have depth and vibrancy, imagery with layers and subtly that keeps you seeing something new each time you look, works with movement. This is more important to me than to have a message per say and so it's what I try to create with my own work.
Q4. Why collage?
A. I love collage because it's all about transformation. You can take an image from one context, put it in another and you've made something brand new which could never have happened in any other way. You can clash colours, textures and themes all in a big riot of imagery and somehow it works. It's such a playful medium because there are no rules, you don't know what you will create when you start and you can allow yourself to be led by the process to somewhere new each time.
Q1. What’s the theme behind the work you’re exhibiting with us?
A. The works in the show are a continuation of some older projects I was working on investigating ideas about boundaries, and their expansion from the body into architectural, physical space. I’m also interested in ephemerality and different ways of capturing these fleeting, transitory movements and forms through manipulating materials, which is why I continue to use knitted textiles and plaster in these sculptures.
Q2. Can you talk me through your process when you’re making your art?
A. It’s very process led, and is a lot about letting the materials guide me in how the final object will look. I use gravity to make the final forms of the paster sculptures, as I leave them hanging from hooks and bars to dry, and I think that not having a completely solid plan in place when making artwork is very important!
Q3. What artworks, films or books have you been inspired by recently?
A. I’ve been reading an anthology of Japanese short stories with an introduction by Haruki Murakami, as well as his novel The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. The paired back way he writes and the novel’s intimate focus on our relationships with other people and the walls we put up that sometimes never break down have been really inspiring recently. I also recently bought an anthology of English folklore tales and have been listening to a podcast called Myths and Legends which have also been really inspiring!
Q4. You’re working in studio you won a place at yes? Can you tell me a little about that?
A. It was a prize I applied for just before our degree show opened, and is a prize from both Camberwell College of Arts and Vanguard Court Studios. I won the studio rent-free for a year, with access to the workshops at my old university, and will have an exhibition in November to showcase the work I’ve been making! It’s been a really amazing opportunity, and has been so vital for helping me continue to make work after graduating. Without this I wouldn’t have been able to afford a studio straight after completing my studies and wouldn’t have been able to take on some of the projects I have over the year