September 17th, 2010

I was chatting to a curator a while ago who basically said are “you’re still doing the Portraiture then”, with the inference of why don’t you try some of the more contemporary stuff like video or installation . Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not closed off to that kind of thing at all, I love Marc Quinn and Hirst’s early works in taxidermy I think  were the high points of the British art boom of the 1990’s but for me it has always been an always will be Portraiture. Since I was about 22 and the penny dropped with me that I like painting and engaging with people most of all and that has stuck with me over the past 20 years. I basically came to the conclusion back then that “people are interesting” and it was that seemingly obvious realisation that has driven everything I’ve done since. If anything , my interest has been heightened over the years. I love painting people and visiting them and making photographs and drawings and then the final painting or drawing. While I’m out and about I’m constanly looking at people and thinking they’s be a fantastic sitter and quite often I’ll approach people and arrange a sitting or while I’m in a foreigh country I’ll just go up to people. It’s a bit of a chance really but what’s the worst that can happen , they say no. In fact 95% of the time they are intrigued and just go for it. So, basically I’m just celebrating the fact that portraiture is a constantly profound and inspiring genre for me to work in and I never get bored of it because of that simple observation 20 years ago that ” People are interesting”. Please don’t think I compare myself to any of these giants but I wonder if the curator would have said to Freud, Bacon, Aurbach, Warhol,  Close , Sanders , ” You know this  Potraiture game…”

Somethig people often ask me is why I don’t exhibit my photographs in shows. I love photography as much as painting and drawing, especially since the digital revolution and you have total control of an image. I love doing photographic sittings and creating avisual dcumentation of a meeting. I find photography so intense during a sitting that I am exhausted after a session which I never feel from painting. But, I don’t consider myself a photographer, where I do consider myself a painter. I guess I use a camera as a sketch book and very rarely leave the house without my little compact snapper ( I use an SLR for sittings).I find digital photographs very precious even though they are snappy and disposable and i’m an avid documentor. I always think that when you travel somewhere with a camera your visual experience is amplified 10 fold. I have a friend who currently lives in India who has no formal art training but is a fantastic photographer, he just has the eye and takes so many photographs on his travels in the far east which would look brilliant in any Sunday magazine.  I’m always a litle disappointed with my travel photographs and they are really nothing more than memory snaps. I use photography in a different way to my friend Alex . My photography scruitinises people in microscopic detail and I’m more concerned with getting lighting issues perfect. I know exactly what I want from a portrait and need to control the lighting and situation rather like an art director I guess which is why I think I tend to work inside rather than outside because outside I have less control.

Entry Filed under: Art


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