Alice - Interviewed by hunter
[some info about the work up front please]
H. Im going to start really basic. So where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in london and studied there. I went to school there, university there and then I sort of lived as an artist there for a couple of years but, I mean, in reality I was basically just working at a bar and making my work on the side. So I decided that I needed a lifestyle change so I moved to Rotterdam and now I'm just being an artist.
H. (Laughs) Cool. So how do you think that environment, london essentially, informed the subject matter and your approach to painting?
A. Well I think there is so much going on in London that I had less time to actually work, so , I think one of the reasons why I moved 'cause it was quite hard to move on from things and let things naturally develop. I was maybe, not really exploring enough, making mistakes and trying new things. London is a very weird city, it's very fast and you are always just trying to make things, which still does affect the way I work, I make a lot of things and think about them after. In that way it has really informed my process. But here I feel like there is definitely room for more experimentation.
H. So in that way the city has informed your process, what about content-wise, your work is quite architectural. Do you think the city itself had an influence itself on the composition and the interiors or architecture you depict?
A. Well I think I look for the same things in some ways, like where I go rather than the actual exterior working in on me. I look for the same type of space, and I'm still looking I think, because I am quite iterated in the idea of this generic energy all around us. So I am looking for the same things but in different spaces. I don't think that necessarily where I am is really translatable, I think things that actually affect you are pace of life and the weather. Those types of things, in someways influence you more the the space around you because in terms of imagery, so much that we see is on the computer screen or in the movies. We see what is around us as well but it is always going to be warped by what's going on in our heads. So maybe over time Rotterdam will effect me more but at the moment its just on the surface.
H. You mentioned the weather. There is a certain grayness that probably similar in London and Rotterdam and in some of your paintings, from the way you use the paint it sometimes gets a bit gray.
A. Yeah its washed out. In someways I think rotterdam and London are quite similar.
H. How do your start a painting, in terms of material and process?
A. I like to work with some restrictions, so I like to work with what I've got or what I can find. I usually paint on either found materials or things that I can acquire very easily. The last piece I made, which is in this show, is a series of four paintings done on bedsheets with paint that I bought just around the corner (brand I don't understand "libra") and I'm quite interested in having this economy of medium. (Goes on to talk about a conversation we had at a book launch haha)
H. Once you gather these materials and you start to do a painting, are you laying down a background or are you…
A. The first thing is that I find the material then I find the images I want to work with. I get interested in different ways, sometimes from photos I take or images from books that I scan here. Sometimes I have a direct knowledge of what I am going to paint but often I just two things and think, "this could be an interesting connection" or "can it work? maybe it can't" and that is why I try to compose them together: to see what can come out of them. I quite like when I'm not sure, when I don't pre-plan how its going to look, it has to come through the painting.
H. Why do you choose paint? We will get to the more sculptural stuff after, but once you've got the images it seems you choose paint and it's very involved in using the hand.
A. Everything I do is painterly, even when I make sculpture I use paper mache and quite craft based simple approaches. Two things, one is that I've always painted. I do enjoy and am interested in the labor of the paint, the skill involved, the wet and the dry and the joy of the craft but also the comedy. My practice is always craft-based, using very average materials and there it is funny to be still using these materials in this era were it is not really necessary. You could just do it all on the computer or a collage, there isn't really a need to photograph things and re-depict them through paint.
H. So there is a real interested in taking these series of images and transform them with your hands into material.
H. Can you tell me some painters or artist you like who are using a similar medium and then open that up to some of your other influences, be them film or theatre.
A. There are many painters that I don't like and the ones I don't like are usually that ones that make work similar to my own. It's a tricky question. I think early influences were people like Peter Doig, Alice O'neal(?) and Chris Ofili, both Doig and Chris use a lot of medium and I've been trying to get away from that really painterly, Pollocky physicality. Although I talk about the labor of painting, I don't like lots of thick paint and being really physical with the medium. I like to use it in quite a graphic simple sparse way, kinda like the iMac of painting (laughs), getting rid of all the other things that don't need to be there. You can acknowledge all the other mediums while you are sort of hacking at this old thing.
H. So being economical with material to develop a sort of sleekness?
A. Not really a sleekness. For me I don't think it makes sense as a painter to be using really thick paints now. I guess that's just my personal taste. People I am influence by now are a lot of film makers - and I always think I'm going to go into film but it never happens - so Steve McQueen, Chris Cunningham. Music influence me a lot. Also, Ive just move to rotterdam so I guess my main influence is the people around me, working around new people.
H. I remember from earlier conversations that you are interested in certain elements of older films like sets, theatrical back drops that are flat yet dimension. They are fake but we see it as a real image, a real landscape.
A. Exactly. I've been watching a lot of Powell and Pressburger films with these scenery scapes that look fake but also look convincing when you see them on film. Then I think about blue screen imagery and putting things together. Our way of seeing things is real and fake then fake and real merging in an acceptance. That interests me; the way we look at things.
H. What about architecture? You seem to take architecture into the composition of the painting. Whether in the arrangement or in the spaces you depict both interior and exterior, victorian or modern etc. How much does architecture influence you?
A. It's a way to organize the space. I'm interested in the way cities are built in a kind of rhythm which I do in a 2D way. Finding a harmonious rhythm in connecting different spaces together whether right or not right there is some other logic going on. I always look at architecture books, thats the first thing I look at in a library. The way architecture is studied, you look at all these different elements - the same way art is studied - philosophy and poetry, all these things are present. For me the built environment is much more inspiring than the natural environment because of the context, you build at what has been built. So I think that's why architecture always features in my work.
H. And for many it is a backdrop to life.
A. And I don't live in a rural society or world. Even the landscape is constructed, farms, parks there isn't any wild land, you could say that everything has been manmade but lets not get into that.
H. Lets, talk about these newer works you are doing for the show. They are still using painting but they are much more three dimensional. The other thing that changes is that you are putting moving figures back in with a more central role.
A. I think I was looking at a Pipiloiti Rist book in the library and it got me thinking a lot about film and repeated images at the same moment and about dancing and disco. Then I found these pictures on my hard drive which were shots of friends dancing in my room, maybe taken a year ago. Two boys and they had this homoerotic energy. I thought, this is quite engaging it was quite exciting for me to work figuratively. I've always abandoned it somehow in my practice, I never really found it interesting, a bit to personal, it's not very cool. But I've felt freeness to, instead of trying new things, go back to classics. What was interesting in these photos were the figure's poses. They are moving around. There are four different poses and I'm thinking about the moment, and encapsulate it, but have it as four - a different way of trying to make harmony. Im going to make them into these paper mache objects. Im painting onto sheets that are folded over cardboard then I paper mache the backs, they are totally warped. I don't know, it's exciting. Who knows I'm gonna see how it develops but I think it will be good.
H. Do you want to leave us with any last words?
A. (Laughs) for 2014?
H. haha, for the future?
A. Well um according the radio it's all about Bitcoins. So keep that in mind.
H. So maybe we will pay you in Bitcoins.