Interview with Art Reveal
"It’s that time again: time for the new issue! Inside you can find some information about the PYLON project by James Paddock, article “The colors of happiness” by Houda Bakkali who is well known to our readers, and of course interviews with the following contemporary artists: Alesha Art (Russia), Emma Balder (USA), Natalie Christensen (USA), Freddy D´azure-Hernández (Mexico), Peter Davis (UK), Luca Fontana (Brazil), Rodrigo Franzão (Brazil), Larry Goode (USA), Cory Graham (USA), Stephanie McGowan (UK), Olga Pastekova (Slovakia), Timo Ryhänen (Finland), Gabrielle Shannon (USA), Katrina Tracuma (Ireland), Briahna Wenke (USA), Stéphane Vereecken (Belgium), Kim Youdan (UK)
Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?
There are so many small and large influences that continue to inspire my work, choosing just one is such a challenge. I view my art practice as having two areas of creative outlet which I marry together. Firstly image making through photography which allows me to document. I love this part of the process and creating detailed and high contrast black and white image. This is then followed by painting abstract colour onto the image where I express my experience in bold colours using a limited palette.
In a broad sense I would say that education has a lasting influence, not in the traditional classroom sense -although I do love to read- but from building experience, exploring, travelling and soaking in the work of other creatives from all different mediums.
I am continuously broadening my horizons and this is one of the reasons why I choose to live nomadically and work remotely. The lifestyle allows me to educate myself through experience, continuously changing my surroundings is the energy that drives my creative expression.
When I travel I like to soak in a culture rather than pass through on a whim. I want to experience what a culture is all about and create work inspired by those places. I want to experience the changes in weather, take note of natural surroundings and explore the streets of new villages and cities. That’s a lot to do when passing by, I’d much rather take more time in the places I temporarily call home.
What is the most challenging part of being an artist?
The nomadic lifestyle I have chosen at this point in my career has many benefits from a content and inspiration point of view but it does mean I lack a consistent creative community. I engage with online platforms and always throw myself into the remote communities when we land somewhere new, but it is the creative community of artists, curators, designers and buyers that I sacrifice when moving around so much.
I deal with these challenges in a few ways and believe all artists go through seasons within their process. My seasons are fairly distinct and follow the travel that I do. I exhibit work whilst in the UK and do more photography whilst away from the UK. I am limited when not in the country and can’t always make the most of opportunities when they present themselves. I try to see the travel I do as a benefit to my story and reframe these challenges turning them into opportunities. I am hugely grateful to be able to travel and view the challenges as obstacles to overcome rather than road blocks.
In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture?
I am a big advocate of living a creative life and I believe everyone has the ability to create. Create rather than consume is my ethos, never far from the forefront of my mind and the underlying message in my choice to be an artist.
Art in my opinion is fundamental in our society. Creativity improves the standard of living for our communities, whether you actively engage or are an effected bystander. Art creates emotional impact, art is thought provoking, conversation starting, educational and a tool to express ourselves.
The term still has traditional vocations attached to it but this continues to change. Artisans are being noticed for their craft whatever their medium and more appreciation is given to previously unnoticed skill sets, within the food industry, up-cycle culture, even craft beer! These additions to art add to an ever evolving conversation to an already interesting debate.
Broadening the artistic realm and encompassing more creativity can only be a good thing. With the increase of technology and systems encroaching on society, creativity is becoming more sort after as the inherent skill of humanity. Computers cannot create ideas in the same way that we can and our culture is drawing attention to this at every opportunity.
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
When I return to the UK my home town of Chester is where I come back to. The city is trying to harness a creative culture and in developing parts of the city centre I have high hopes for what the future holds. Currently there are limited opportunities for emerging artists, I therefore take opportunities to travel within the UK to exhibit. Yorkshire is historically a hugely creative area, towns such as Hebden Bridge and Todmorden have a vibrant art scene which I’ve been tapping into for the past two years.
I’d love to be more active in Chester but currently when I’m in the UK I spend a lot of time driving cross country with a boot full of art! This has given me insight to opportunities in micro markets in the UK and any chance to gain exposure for my work is of great benefit at this stage in my career.
Name three artists you admire.
Due to the mixed media approach I use in my own work I am inspired by a range of print makers, photographers and painters alike. I tend to navigate towards work which has elements of my own process such as bold colour and high contrast.
I have always loved the joiner photography work of David Hockey, his layering of images and use of composition is fascinating. Showing multiple angles of the same subject, different facades and views has always interested me, there is always so much to look at. My first foray into photography was a collage piece of the family home that I made at school. 100% inspired by Hockney and his use of multiple imagery. My parents still have it on the wall at home and Hockney continues to inspire me today.
Another photographer Sven Pfrommer with his slow shutter imagery and mixed media approach has also been a really important reference for my practice. Pfrommer’s use of saturated colour and high contrast certainly relates to my own creative expression. ‘Human Blur’ is a series of work which has guided a few decisions of my recent photography, imagery that I haven’t yet developed through my hand painted technique but that I’m very excited about.
An artist that has recently made an impact on me is London based print maker Hamish Macaulay. He uses bold colours, high contrast and strong shape, very much my cup of tea! I have experimented a little with print making but not yet added this technique to my regular practice, something I certainly want to develop as my self expression expands into others mediums.
What are your future plans?
It’s a great question and something that always takes up head space as ideas are continuously flowing. Practically I want my work to take on a broader perspective, rather than documenting certain places with my artwork I want to encompass larger themes within culture. I have loved exploring the theme of ‘Nature vs Architecture’ and using more materials and tools will certainly be part of my developing practice. I have many ideas of taking a more abstract approach with my photography, still combining the painted technique and using colour in both elements of the work but starting without the detailed documentary image.
Location wise, for the next year I will continue to live in different places across Europe, my partner and I are deliberating between Romania and Serbia for this autumn and we are pretty set to try out Bansko in Bulgaria early next year. Exploring new countries, experiencing culture and documenting where I go will always be a part of my life. Travel continues to be the best source of inspiration and keeps my creativity flowing in many different ways.