Frame 61

Ralph Hunter-Menzies

Frame 61
Ralph Hunter-Menzies

"destruction has always been an integral part of creation and inherently holds and creates narrative."


Your method of working is to wash/erase away the marks you make, could you tell us about this and the inspiration behind it?

I originally became aware of mark making through removal of surface when I started to notice graffiti that had been removed in South East London. Contemplating graffiti removal invited a number of metaphors: individual vs state, invisible and visible, present and past and most importantly, creation and destruction; which is creative and which is destructive in this on going battle is what also intrigued me. I looked into the techniques used and began to experiment with them on canvas. These processes are fairly destructive in their nature and this has helped further my thinking and interest in destruction as a creative process. Just like the Punk art and music scenes of New York in the 1980s and 1990s or when Robert Rauschenburg infamously erased a De Konning drawing, destruction has always been an integral part of creation and inherently holds and creates narrative.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practicing artists and where did you study?

I studied at Chelsea College, graduating there in 2010 and have been practicing as an artist since. In my final year my tutor was the late Roger Ackling and he had a profound affect on me, especially on my outlook on process and approach to mark making. He made these incredible works using magnified sunlight to burn lines into found pieces of driftwood. This sense of depicting an act or movement through process still fascinates me.





Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

This year I have moved studios 4 times and this disrupts any sense of routine, but in a way being transitory has become the routine. I find this helps me challenge, re-contextualise and question my working process. New spaces come with often challenging parameters that you have to overcome or encompass within the works. An example of this is a garage I used to make work in that had engine oil that would leak through the walls, often getting onto my paintings. This forced me to become less precious about the surface I worked on and helped me embrace accidents within the process.

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

Matisse Cut-outs continue to astound me. The way they are balanced and the consideration for positive and negative space is un-paralleled. Awareness of these elements is something I attempt to conquer within my own works.

There is a collage/scrapbook feel to your work, could you tell us about your thoughts behind this?

Again, it relates to graffiti removal and how areas are often covered in a utilitarian way, with new and old marks being thrust together and forced to have a dialogue with each other. This is why I started sewing different surfaces together that may have no aesthetic connection or conversation with each other, but through composing, editing and juxtaposing, the work is built.



SWARM, 2017

How do you go about naming your work?

I feel the act of making these paintings creates an allegory within its own right, much like the removal or covering of graffiti. The titles come from visual cues within the works, often summarised by a song title or lyric.

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

I have just been shortlisted for the Exeter Contemporary open alongside Nancy Allen, Olivia Bax, Gareth Cadwallader, Fiona Curran, Beth Fox, Sooim Jeong, Alastair Levy, Suzanne O'Haire, Aimee Parrott and Maryam Tafakory. This opens on the 15th September at Phoenix Gallery and runs through until the 4th November.

All images courtesy of the artist
Publish date 01/08/2017