Conditions To Rectify Lost Time/ oil on canvas/ 180 x 160cm/ 2019
courtesy of the artist
DA: No need to apologise! Similarities are impossible to escape, and I'm learning to become more accepting of them- it makes it a little easier when names like Terry Winters pop up! You've drawn many comparisons, so I will try to unpack some of my interests in painting which might in turn address the insights you've made…
The spatial element of painting is an interesting place to start, it's something in painting I have thought about a lot over the last few years, and wrote most of my dissertation on. In many ways the notion of ‘wandering around in space’ is a feeling I often feel within my daily reality. Paintings seem to have the greatest hold over me when they are anchored in a physical realm yet simultaneously take me out of my context, and speak intimately to me through carrying promises in their mystery, of ‘somewhere’ or ‘something other’. One of the ways painting can do this to me is through their gaps, space, breaks etc.- a kind of foothold, but also with an absence pregnant with promise.
We have become so used to instant rapid information, dissolved down into easily digestible, short sound bites, that the fertile ground of questioning the unknown and allowing it into our experience can be cast aside, forgotten, and at worst classified as an indulgence. Maybe painting for me is a reaction to all that, and where the element of space comes into play.
At the moment the work I make is a yearning for, and an inquiry and exploration of, an unknown space. A search through, and out of, my known physical realm into another of continual open-ended mystery. This is a choice as a painter, a commitment to openness and a belief in the immense life giving potential that lies within all manner of that uncertainty. Armed with faith that if we are to take painting as an ontological medium, painting can be used as a vehicle to open up information in our environments and bring us closer to potential truths or meanings.
Attempting to demystify images I make seems futile, and undermines the generosity in their vulnerability (as well as highlighting the limits of our language). Often I attempt to explain content in painting and it fades away, disappearing out of my grasp, much like when you try to recount a dream. The images, sounds and sensations that were so vivid, once recounted, fade into nothing, and their once profound imprint on your psyche vanishes.
Although the work may contain echoes of the recognisable, at present specific objects or forms are never placed within the image. This is not a judgement on others' work by any means, but is currently intrinsic to my sensibility, and the use of specific objects and forms would risk the work vanishing purely into recognition, and any potency found in its questioning ends. To champion paintings' abilities to exist on the potent brink of potential between what we know, and what we don't, is perhaps where meaning for me lies. I’m learning to allow myself to be comfortable with images I cannot fully comprehend, to indulge in their oddities, impossibilities and nonsenses…and embrace them. Images that are not given to me to fully understand, are far more closely linked to my everyday reality than something fully recognisable, formulated and solid and I am thankful that is the case.
DA: Paintings can begin in an all manner of ways, often they begin out of a quality I have found in a drawing that excites me, with others I am filled with a need to make a mark and the painting intuitively begins from there. Others begin from a momentary vision I may have (which has been happening a lot more frequently recently).
I use drawing and painting to facilitate an instinctive investigation into making sense of what it is to be in this world. To be here on the Earth right now. Mapping my experience of the everyday primarily through drawing, I use both exterior stimuli and interior dialogues as influences. The drawings begin to open up into painting when there is something within them which, at one and the same time, is both mystifying to me, but also simultaneously holds a tangible energy which relates to lived experience.
Using this brink of potential as a starting point, the act of painting then works to unpack, deepen and enrich this quality found in the original drawings or experiences.
In terms of how I prepare my canvases, I wouldn't say I have any special techniques or methods. I don't spend too long preparing their surfaces as the paintings are built up/ down quite substantially over time and the surface undergoes rapid transformation. Usually a few coats of primer will do and I am away. As for paints, I use fairly high volumes of the stuff so unfortunately I am not in a position to be too picky. Apart from a few select Michael Harding’s here and there, most are purely based on what I can afford at the time.