Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Consolidation, oil & collage on linen, 55 x 46 cm, 2012


What are you working on in your studio right now?
A group of paintings that have floating or hanging forms over a more structured painted background. Some of these paintings are older unfinished works, which have become transformed with the new elements. These floating forms are directly painted on the surface or collaged pieces of painted cloth or paper. I often work with them flat on the floor or on a low table or bench. In these paintings there is an ambiguity, it is unclear whether things are disintegrating or coming together. I feel time is the governing force in these paintings; their shallow spaces arise slowly from the process of time.
Can you describe your working routine?

I have a pretty regular routine. Most painting is done in the mornings, as that is when I prefer the light. In the afternoons or evenings, and if I’m not teaching, I usually work on drawings in an area of the studio with a drawing table. There are moments of doing nothing, of being mentally or emotionally engaged but without physically working. Doing nothing is doing something. Learning what not to do and what to avoid is just as important as what I choose to do.



Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio is on street level in an apartment block. It’s about 130 square meters with a high ceiling and has two large ceiling to floor windows, one of which faces northwest. As I usually work on many paintings at the same time, the large workspace allows me to line them all up and see them all together if need be. I also have a good storage area where I can hide things from view for periods of time (something I find an absolute necessity during the process). The space is also very suitable for presenting work when I have studio visits. My studio is a kind of oasis, a place I constantly escape to, but also a place to return to things in a more intimate way. It’s a sensorial place as well as a mental space.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
My process has become very organic; reworking things, interweaving things... paintings can have their origins in the history of my own work or the wider history of art. Some small aspect or detail can be enough. A memory of something or even certain sensations. I also use my immediate surroundings and day-to-day life as a source. For me this is important, it’s a way of transforming it into something else. The everyday can have a blind weight to it; the challenge is how to open it up, break it open even. The marvellous is always close at hand and often overlooked. There is also an element of recycling; discarded paintings or studio debris can be incorporated into a work, something from nothing, a kind of radical humility.   


What are you having the most trouble resolving?
One could consider each painting as a problem to be resolved but I shy away from this idea. A painting should be a lived thing, it is lived through in its making and in the viewing, as such it will often contain certain failures or inherent problems. It is very often the case that the unresolved has a lot of truth in it. For me a painting is an entity that should not depend on a fixed one-dimensional face to the world. It is an accumulation of evidence which reflects the life of its own making and the daily life that has gone into it.
The only real things that need resolving are those that most people have...life things, practical things. In my case, it’s creating a balance, which enables me to work, finding time and a certain tranquil state of mind. This is not always easy to achieve.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
Essentially, I use traditional painting materials such as oil paint on linen or canvas... but I will often add other things, collaged elements, flanking wooden additions on one side of the painting, holes or openings in the surface etc. But I need to have certain limits. They define and articulate the freedom of a painting. I really don’t like painting that uses a lot of very obvious techniques or elaborate processes. I have always tried to find the most direct way of working at any given moment, keeping things within certain limits enables me to do this. Painting is a bodily extension of thought, a haptic experience. It arises from the dark pools of who we are. Light and dark light weave, forms arise through marks, colour and contrast and if I am lucky and have followed the painting to where it wishes to go (although this is not always clear), the painting will get to a state of affairs in which it pushes me out of its limits and yet holds my attention at the same time.   


Stages, oil & collage on linen, 104 x 86 cm, 2012

What does the future hold for this work?
That is impossible to say because I’m seeking an unknown outcome.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I recently read something by George Steiner on Heraclitus in his book The Poetry of Thought, which expresses something I can identify with (I have added the word painting):
“He quarries language (painting) before it weakens into imagery, into eroded abstraction. His abstractions are radically sensory and concrete, but not in the opportunistic mode of allegory. They enact, they perform thought where it is still, as it were, incandescent… Where it follows on the shock of discovery, of naked confrontation with its own dynamism, at once limitless and bounded.”

Finally these words by Juhani Pallasmaa from The Embodied Image define a wider territory where my paintings might function:
“In my view, in the near future, the notion of the ‘real’ will increasingly imply what is justifiable in the biological perspective, both past and future. The notion of the real in our settings of life cannot be endlessly expanded and relativised; we are are biological and historical beings whose entire physical, metabolic and neural systems have been optimally tuned to the reality of physical, ecological and biological facts. The human reality, as well as our future, is undeniably grounded in our biological and cultural past as much as in our wisdom concerning the future.       


Dissolution, oil & collage on linen, 46 x 39 cm, 2011




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