"The rise of the internet and availability of mobile phones were signs of an increasingly technologised era where perceptions of time and space are in a state of perpetual flux."
Interviewed by artist Keanu Arcadio, you can visit Keanu's website here: artist's website
Let's open up this interview by telling us your morning routine and if you use any technology to plan any works beforehand?
Wake, coffee, food, emails, studio. Every new work starts on the computer where research takes place before working out the composition of an idea in usually Photoshop. Colours and image are worked through before committing to printing, collaging and painting in the studio.
Have you seen any paintings or films that have drawn your nose in a new direction?
There have been many films but notable ones that I seem to keep going back to are the Director’s cut of Bladerunner, Bladerunner 2049, Stanley Kubirck’s 2001 and Apocalypse Now. There are so many paintings that I would be hard pressed to name but the National Gallery and Tate Museums are always inspiring places.
The paintings you have executed share similar compositions and elements from 16th century medieval paintings, when executing your paintings do you have any images up when working in the studio?
I think you must be referring to the glitch works that I have made that are high resolution photos of paintings from the Rijksmusem. An algorithm is used to re-order the pixels without destruction or duplication that result in what I think of as a digital sands of time effect. These are then either converted into animations, prints or giclees on canvas. In the studio I have images of the work I have planned out on the computer for reference. At home I have a mix of my own images and others on my wall in front of the computer.
Would you say you have taken the syntax of how the screen moves into the language of painting and would do you foresee yourself executing your paintings into the digital format?
I already work with digital formats if that means using computers and printing them onto surfaces and collaging them onto canvasses or printing directly onto canvasses. Moreover I make animations now and then. When I was at central Saint Martins from 1994-98 I wanted to paint without paint to question the medium itself but also to side-step the dominant discourse of ‘The Death of Western Painting’ by adopting the language of abstraction and substitute paint for collage. Why? Because I wanted to reflect the digital and communications revolution in my art. The newspaper represented the globalised space of Capitalism and was a good starting point that has remained in my work for over 20 years.
The rise of the internet and availability of mobile phones were signs of an increasingly technologised era where perceptions of time and space are in a state of perpetual flux. To me the landscapes of zeroes and ones were flowing through us and the metaphor I chose to use was the Financial Times newspaper and especially the lists of the stock market. So what does the screen mean? I grew up with the first home computers and when I first played games on the TV I was blown away by how you could control something on the screen that felt like as though it was in an alternate reality beyond the screen which was and is a world constructed by zeroes and ones. It makes sense to me to try to visualise the languages of our times and to use them in our chosen mediums to capture something about our human condition. Future works will involve 3d printing and hopefully some work made for VR.
Following from the last question, how much influence would you say you allow from the screen? Are there times where you take ideas from the T.V or browsing the web?
I’m uncertain of what is meant by the ‘influence’ of the screen as if it somehow innately has quantitive coercive power. I definitely take ideas from TV or browsing the web. I try to keep mind open in a place where inspiration can be found and the internet is for me a massive library. So whatever form or shape that takes whether its looking at art from around the world, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones, Masterchef, a youtuber analysing a film script or David Attenborough’s recent Planet Earth there is always something incredible to learn and be inspired from.
The Minotaur series is very much different from your other compositions of flowers, fruit and static objects. What was your incentive for creating this series?
The Minotaur series came from searching for a mythical sign of our global times. The stock market is called the bull and the bear market apparently due to the way how they attack. A bear strikes down and a bull thrusts up to describe the movements of the stock market. I found it fascinating that one of the most important spaces of our modern lives should use attack metaphors and animals for what is one of the most artificial spaces we as a humanity have created.
So the Minotaur came into my mind as a symbol within a labyrinthine matrix of numbers. A cursed creature of man and beast and also a symbol of our relationship to nature. The still life compositions are based on the Dutch Golden Age Still Life which was a period considered to be the birth of Modern Capitalism with the first recorded economic bubble over the surreal speculation of tulip bulbs and the rise of the first global company with militarised trade routes, colonisation and slavery. The still life paintings were a way of looking at what is now considered to be a benign genre and reframing it to question the histories that are written by victors and therefore those that are hidden. It was a response to the 2008 Financial crisis that led me to finding out about the first bubble in history.
Do you see yourself revisiting depicting animals or moving objects in your work?
I am frequently making work depicting animals but I haven’t yet made a work with moving objects yet. I certainly make moving image based works.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you this 2018?
I currently have a group show at Alan Cristea with 3 Turner Prize artists and also have an ongoing solo show at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach. Forthcoming is a group exhibition at Galerie Huit in March and a solo show toward the end of the year at the same gallery in Hong Kong. In between will be other group shows in London and a chance to see my work at Art Basel Hong Kong.
All images courtesy of the artist and Edel Assanti
Interview publish date: 15/02/2018