Frame 61

Bijan Amini-Alavijeh

Frame 61
Bijan Amini-Alavijeh

About/background: After completing my degree at Manchester School of Art, it took a few months to set myself up in a studio space. Being an artist had not been my initial plan, as at this time earning money was my main priority. I found myself uncertain of the direction I wanted to go and applying for creative jobs always turned out unsuccessful. This left me working with the Fire Service but not until I finished my internship for two professional artists, Richard Sweeney and Andrew Singleton. It was then when I realised I wanted to pursue an artistic future after having an Insight into their lives.

Following the internship and still confident that I wanted to pursue being an artist, I got myself a studio. Having the studio enabled me to focus more on painting again, providing both a physical space and mental space away from work and home. Since then, I have continued to progress my work as well as now assisting weekly in the arts department at Pontefract New College.

Starting point/shapes: The starting point to my new works developed from found shapes from the inside of envelopes. I explore them fully through drawing to figure out the possible outcomes. With the use of repetition and reversing the shape back over itself, the outcome is now a selection of shapes I can progress with. My aim is to find shapes that are unusual, irregular and new instead of sticking to the obvious. Like Yves Klein has his own blue, I have my own shapes.  

From fully understanding my drawings, seeing how the shapes respond to one another and the space they’re contained within, I can then move on to consider fundamental aspects of painting such as colour, space and surface and using minimal gestures to create contrasts in the surfaces of the shapes. 

Evidence of your hand: The evidence of the handmade comes through the process of repetition. If you were to paint a square repeatedly, you will find ways to make it more enjoyable and visually appealing to yourself (always to yourself) to get you through painting so many more. Doing this you become more playful and add simple painting techniques such as gesture, mark making and erasure. It is something that attracts me to other artists work and I often notice how specific it is to each artist. It is also a way for me to be more painterly and expressive within the hard forms and edges. 

Repetitivity: I always ask myself what if? There are multiple ways of doing something, so in each painting I differ with colours and different marks. In my smaller works my surfaces are a range of different sizes, some with millimetres between them. This instantly changes the way the work is going to turn out as I stretch the shape to fill as much of the space as possible. The repeated use of the structured patterns and shapes allow me to focus on the aspects of painting in a more free and experimental way throughout the series. After drawing out my shape, colour is the next step. In these paintings I try to challenge myself with colour, as Helen Frankenthaler said ‘I’d rather risk an ugly surprise than rely on things I know I can do. As I progress with each works, the different markings come natural to what I feel like the painting will accept.

Titles: To name a piece of work I find possibly the hardest part about making, which is why a lot of them are named ‘untitled’. But, the works I have named are a mixture of giving them human names such as ‘Eric’ or stating the colours I have used such as ‘Orange/Olive’. To name abstract works is a hard thing to do when there is no subject matter or obvious reason as to why I have painted it.  I try to stay quite simple if I name a piece, with it being just as a reference if it were to be spoken about. 

Studio/routine: On the days I go to the studio I create a mental ‘to do’ list so I am a step ahead on arrival. I try to get to my studio for the latest 12pm depending on how bad the bus service is. When getting there I turn the heater on, make a cuppa tea, put some music on, change into my painting clothes and just sit and stare at whatever work is hanging waiting to be completed. Also, I water the plants whenever they’re looking dry. A lot of the day, though, consists of flicking through Instagram and Facebook, changing my music and thinking about the painting and what it needs. The paintings themselves don’t take long to paint in comparison to the thoughts.

You can develop a lot faster in your head and imagine the outcome a lot quicker than physically developing it. But when your thoughts come to an end, that’s when you have to take a risk with the next step and apply with instinct. When the days over I try to reset for the next day (clean my brushes and palette). On the way home I reflect on what I have done and think about what I need to do next time. Is there a better choice I could have made? Does it need anything more? What alteration can I make to my next painting that differs from this? Sometimes, I don’t know the answer.

Progress: I see my work introducing gesture a lot more, I feel like I’m approaching the end of this series and have almost exhausted all ideas from the question ‘what if?’. So now since focusing on line and form, I want to and need to be more playful before I go crazy with the thought of painting another edge. Only until I fulfil my gestural needs I will introduce edges again and take my work in a new direction. But, to have a natural flow there has to be only ideas of what to do and no continuation with the word next, so I guess I’ll leave you with the spontaneous answer of we’ll see what happens.

Future: The only exhibition I have coming up so far is at York College Gallery (date to be announced). Since taking a few months ‘break’ from painting following my graduation, I saw myself pushed out of the queue. Only recently do I feel like I have kindly been let back in to join the slow progress towards the bigger opportunities to come. This year so far has been more positive than the last, so as long as I’m progressing further with my ideas, I can only see myself progressing further with my success. 

Artist website

Publishing date of this interview 08/03/16