Whatever the subject matter, they are all self-portraits in the end.” Sometimes one line has the ability to completely alter the way you look at an artists images. This quote, the final thing Robin said in our interview below, is one of those moments. The feeling of loss which runs though his work is already powerful through the personal subject matter of his son, but it really resonates and stays with you when you realise “every picture is a self-portrait in disguise

Here Robin talks us through his career development and show us images which give a great insight into his processes.

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There’s never been a better time to be a street artist. There’s more public acceptance than ever before and countless international street art festivals in an ever increasing list of exotic and far flung locations. Celebrities, corporations, galleries and even councils are clamouring to align themselves with the art and the artists. Read more

I think my strength is drawing – but painting in oils is my preferred drug – it’s a beautiful, sensual medium to work in. The feel of it, the smell of it… it feels like some kind of alchemical process sometimes.

First piece taken by Red Propeller, “The Madness of King George”, 2007, oil on canvas

Guy Denning is often described as one of the most important painters on the urban art scene. That description actually does him as disservice, as it implies a limitation to his appeal – His work has an appeal beyond that scene and he’s increasingly being seen as part of the mainstream of the contemporary art world.

He’s shown extensively across the UK, with several solo shows in London and has also had solo shows in France, Italy, New York and Los Angeles.

Here he talks us through his artistic development.

“I was always drawing and painting as a kid. In the small village where I grew up I was frequently subjected to bullying by other kids so it was just safer to stay in home. There were only three TV channels, kids TV ran from the end of school-time until the news at about 6pm, there was no video or home computers – let alone computer games… so I read, drew and painted – continually.

At primary school, when I was about six or seven, I painted a picture of a pirate ship that garnered positive attention rather than the usual bullies’ taunts. I think that set the course of where I was going. Bizarrely, now that I think about it, the fact that the positive response was so unexpected probably explains why I then immediately destroyed the painting. There was another kid, a year or so younger than me and very popular with the other pupils; he also showed an aptitude for art. In primary school terms he wasn’t as good as me but I was shit-scared he’d get better than me at it – art became a competition from that point. I just continued. I was obsessively copying from books and magazines, drawing from life, learning to look and learning to make accurate marks.

When I was about ten my father gave me a small painter’s easel and a box of old oil paints that he’d gotten bored with (he used to make small oil paintings of 1960s sports cars). That’s when I started oil-painting and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. By the time I was in my early teens a family friend who worked in one of Bristol’s art colleges was bringing me old canvases that students had abandoned and I was making paintings that were bigger than me.

When I was eleven or twelve my parents bought me a Time Life book on Michelangelo. It was part of a series that I hassled them to keep getting every month and from that time I started reading and collecting art monographs and other books on art movements and theory. I was a teenage art-nerd.At school and home art was the centre of my life. It was my own sense of personal validation. I made artwork and it gained a very positive response so I just continued.

This was made following the Bhopal disaster in 1984 at the age of 19

This was made following the Bhopal disaster in 1984 at the age of 19

I worked weekends and holidays to pay for evening classes in print-making and life-drawing at the Bath Academy of Art. Eventually I applied to take a degree course in painting. I was refused – repeatedly by various local colleges. No explanation was given and you didn’t ask because you wouldn’t be told. It just made me more determined to continue.

a life drawing at college, late 80s

a life drawing at college, late 80s

I developed an obsessive interest in the work of the American painter Franz Kline after seeing his painting ‘Meryon’ at the Tate; that led to a personal journey through Modernist theory and abstract painting until the early 90s.

One of the last abstracts - early 90's

One of the last abstracts – early 90’s

At that time I was supporting my painting with a job in a photocopy shop and this led to a return to figurative work using the photocopiers as an art medium. The subject matter revolved heavily around agendas of sexual objectification and gender dysphoria. This subject matter eventually broadened into other political and personal issues and I returned to oil painting again completely as I felt the digital copier route too predictable.

Example of Photocopier based work - early 90's

Example of Photocopier based work – early 90’s

"Addict in Wonderland"; was at the crossover from abstract to figuration (early 90s)

“Addict in Wonderland”; was at the crossover from abstract to figuration (early 90s)

In the mid 90s I was discovering other artists online that seemed to have sympathies with some of the ideas I’d developed personally. I wrote the neomodernist manifesto in 1998.

Coincidence, luck and fate…
In 2007 I was a union rep in a local hospital and I was one of the branch’s representatives at the annual conference in Brighton. While I was there I met up with a painter friend Antony Micallef for a social drink in a pub…

Days after this meeting there was a show of Antony’s work in an Exeter gallery. At the opening Antony mentioned my name to the owners of Red Propeller gallery. They contacted me and asked me if I had any work available to look at. They visited, went away with a dozen or so pieces and sold them within days before they even had a chance to hang them in a show. My new, and enthusiastic, market were the buyers of ‘urban’ art.
In October of 2007 my partner and I moved to Finisterre in France where I am now able to paint full-time. Since there I have had solo shows in the UK, USA, Italy and France.

First piece taken by Red Propeller, "The Madness of King George", 2007, oil on canvas

First piece taken by Red Propeller, “The Madness of King George”, 2007, oil on canvas

“All canvases start with a dark ground, usually brown (or recently grey) thinned paint. I draw the piece onto the canvas with compressed charcoal or conté pastel and then generally work in sessions, dark to light. The key colours I use are black, naples yellow, cadmium red, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, yellow ochre, lemon yellow and white. I add further drawing, inscribe text and add collage elements as I paint. Don’t ask how I make the flesh tones (and I don’t understand people’s fixation with constructing skin tones), it’s not measured or remembered! When this basic painting is done and it has dried I will add other layers of glaze (oil paint mixed with linseed oil, varnish or turpentine, depending on the effect I’m after – the oil takes longer to dry and holds the pigment more rigidly). Eventually I will get to a point when I can do no more with the piece, I’ll leave it for some time and keep visiting it (occasionally something needed will jump out). The last paint to go on is usually a very near pure white highlight. I rarely use pure white through the main of the painting – once you’ve used it,
you’ve used it; and it’s usually your last chance of applying an accent highlight to a painting. Once dry I seal and varnish.””

Without getting too involved in the minefield of the nature/nurture debate – where do you think your interest in art came from? Was it encouraged at home/school or did it develop in spite of those environments? Were your parents creative?
My grandparents on my mother’s side were both amateur artists. My grandfather James Greef used to enjoy giving me lessons in how to draw still lifes, such as a pencil study of an apple, he did spend a lot of it completing the drawing himself though! So it was always encouraged at home, my mum is also an amateur artist, my dad isn’t artistic at all but has always been supportive. I was the one at school drawing The Incredible Hulk on the blackboard.

Who were the first artists that inspired you and made you want find more of their work? How old were you?
When I was 21 studying for my degree in Harrow I was given the opportunity to meet painter Albert Irvin at his studio (he is 90 this year!) I spent a couple of hours with him at his studio in Stepney Green, East London and came away buzzing – that was the most inspirational moment for me – I’ll always remember that. Painters I currently follow include Stuart Cumberland, Luke Gottelier and Neil Rumming from the UK, and US painters such as Josh Smith and Joe Bradley.

Your early association with the scrawl collective was interesting in that I understand that you were the only member from a non graffiti/skate background. What influences would you say you took from the other artists in the collective? How would you say you influenced them?
Will and Duncan were very helpful in understanding what worked on a large scale in a live painting public environment, something I hadn’t done until I met up with them, they seemed like seasoned pros when I first painted live in Osaka 2002. I don’t think I’ve influenced them, they know what they’re doing. I’m just positive and supportive about their work.

When you were working with the collective you seemed to focus on developing a recurring character, in this case the yeti. It was very successful for you but is quite a “”street art”” approach. Did you feel limited by that or enjoy that fact you created a popular character which appeared on poster, T-shirts and even the scrawl collective business cards?
I first did a Yeti painting in 1998 for a solo show at Bedford Hill Gallery, London SE1 (long defunct, but Yinka Shonibare exhibited there way back). After that the yeti characters were featured in ‘Scrawl Too: More Dirt’ (2001, Booth-Clibborn Editions), a more character-based approach. I was always painting my other work alongside it – and it’s a character that I’ve enjoyed developing and experimenting with over time, either in paint or other media. I don’t feel restricted by it as I do other things. I do limit what I do with it. And I enjoy returning to it to see what else I can do. I also like the absurdness of painting the yeti character in a serious manner.

Quite a lot of your current art is very large. Is it simply a case that the scale suits the ominous themes in your work at the moment or have you always been interested in painting at that scale?
A lot of the painting that inspires me are the ambitious, large-scale works by American artists such as the Abstract Expressionists (Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline), post- Abstract Expressionists such as Richard Diebenkorn and UK artists from the 1960s onwards inspired by them such as Patrick Heron, Albert Irvin and Basil Beattie. The scale does certainly suit the theme but I have always enjoying painting large scale where I can.

Do you have any specific shows at the moment that you are working towards? What sort of price does your current work sell for?
Right now I’m painting some new yeti works on paper for Nelly Duff’s Zoo room at Pick Me Up 3, Somerset House. These will be fairly affordable for original works, around the £250 mark. Editioned prints are priced at £25-£100. Small original works on canvas sell from £800, up to £5-10K for medium to large-scale works.

Your move away from finalising the composition of you work on computer seems like a recurring trend I am seeing when talking to artists. Although no-one has explicitly said it yet, my feeling is that they have been using the computer as a kind of crutch and as they grow in technical ability and/or confidence they are moving away from that. Is that how it was for you or do you think it was simply a case your style changing?
Using the computer is a good decision-making and time-saving device when deciding upon a works composition, scale and palette. It allows focus when you then approach the canvas. However its good to take it as a guide only when you are painting. Many factors change when painting and I find its important to allow for chance and error to play a part.

In looking at the development of the piece you showed the sketches for, it’s interesting to see that you do a lot of off-canvas adjustments to the composition after you have started the actual painting. Do you ever do an initial sketch and then just go at a canvas from start to finish?
I used to do this when I’d completed the whole composition on-screen to duplicate on canvas. I don’t do this now so no. Its good to think about and look afresh at the work the next day.

Do you work in silence or listen to music? If music – What type?
Usually I do listen to music – yesterday it was Carl Craig’s Landcruising and Sessions, today its been Freddie Hubbard’s Anthology. Recently I’ve been listening to early Simple Minds, Heaven 17, The The, early Chicago House music (Marshall Jefferson, Ten City), mid-80s Prince and Minneapolis-related acts (such as The Family, Jill Jones, Vanity 6), Radiohead, Britney Spears ‘BlackOut’, Lindstrom, New Order, Kelis, Pharcyde, Photek.

Are you an organised worker? Do you give yourself set times that you will work in? Do you have a set place you work in?
I paint in my studio, and usually paint within a 3-hour period and then have a break.

Phil Ashcroft’s practice explores ideas of narrative and the spectacle within landscape. Referencing the site-specific, his work considers our present-day visions, a climate ever more pertaining to aspiration and speculation within our modern sense of reality. Here he takes an in depth look at how his work has developed over the years

“My painting process has shifted between fluid and hard-edge graphics and back again over the years, for a number of reasons – the influence of the computer in my work and the search to find a method of painting that best works for me. Now I’m finding that I’m loosening my painting method again, allowing the brush-marks to become more relaxed.

For a while (2001-06) I composed and finalised my work in illustrator and translated this directly to the canvas as closely as possible. I wanted the quality of painting but the decision-making I could reach on-screen. This was because I lost a lot of time re-painting and over-painting, never being able to decide when a work was complete. This was a way of trying to discipline myself in decision-making, I couldn’t deviate from my digital composition – however I found the work lost spontaneity, I could never equal the crispness achieved on-screen and although I preferred the physical final quality of the painting it wasn’t as enjoyable a process to paint. Its good practice I feel to have an element of chance, risk and potential failure involved.

Zygon, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 102cm, 1998 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Zygon, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 102cm, 1998 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Wampa, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 102cm, 1998 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Wampa, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 102cm, 1998 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Toxic Landscape (1), acrylic on canvas, 51 x 41cm, 2002 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Toxic Landscape (1), acrylic on canvas, 51 x 41cm, 2002 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Plant 5 (Nocturne), acrylic on canvas, 51 x 41cm, 2003 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Plant 5 (Nocturne),
acrylic on canvas, 51 x 41cm, 2003 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Enclave, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 127cm, 2004 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Enclave, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 127cm, 2004 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Yeti Over Mount Fuji (1st edition - cyan), silkscreen on paper, 42 x 59.4cm, 2005 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Yeti Over Mount Fuji (1st edition – cyan),
silkscreen on paper, 42 x 59.4cm, 2005 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Krypton, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 92cm, 2006 (photo: Joe Plommer, 2012)

Krypton, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 92cm, 2006 (photo: Joe Plommer, 2012)

Krypton (LDF Version), acrylic on canvas, 92 x 122cm, 2007 (photo: Anthony Lam)

Krypton (LDF Version),
acrylic on canvas, 92 x 122cm, 2007 (photo: Anthony Lam)

Olkiluoto, acrylic on canvas, 250 x 180cm, 2008, Schwartz Gallery (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Olkiluoto, acrylic on canvas, 250 x 180cm, 2008, Schwartz Gallery (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Dallas (study), acrylic on canvas, 76.5 x 101.5cm, 2008 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Dallas (study), acrylic on canvas, 76.5 x 101.5cm, 2008 (photo: Matthew Blaney)

Better Days, Fragments of a Lost Language, Where You Go I Go Too, all works duratran print mounted in a light box, 71 x 50.5 x 8cm each, Heart of Glass, Shoreditch Town Hall, 2008 (photo: Francis Ware)

Better Days, Fragments of a Lost Language, Where You Go I Go Too,
all works duratran print mounted in a light box, 71 x 50.5 x 8cm each, Heart of Glass, Shoreditch Town Hall, 2008 (photo: Francis Ware)

Thunderhorse, acrylic wall painting, 1750 x 430cm, Fishmarket Gallery, 2011 (photo: Andrew Hilton)

Thunderhorse, acrylic wall painting, 1750 x 430cm, Fishmarket Gallery, 2011 (photo: Andrew
Hilton)

Cyclone, acrylic on canvas,183 x 240cm, 2012 (photo: Joe Plommer)

Cyclone, acrylic on canvas,183 x 240cm, 2012 (photo: Joe Plommer)

Five Past Midnight, acrylic on canvas,183 x 240cm, 2012 (photo: Joe Plommer)

Five Past Midnight,
acrylic on canvas,183 x 240cm, 2012 (photo: Joe Plommer)

Past Midnight by Phil Ashcroft – 2012″” width=””231″” height=””300″” class=””size-medium wp-image-198″” />[/caption]

Five Past Midnight (detail), acrylic on canvas,183 x 240cm, 2012 (photo: Joe Plommer)

Five Past Midnight (detail), acrylic on canvas,183 x 240cm, 2012 (photo: Joe
Plommer)

Russ Mills is riding high and has an enormous following. Describing his work as ‘Kitchen Sink Surrealism’ he has, for a long while, been quietly obsessed with Japanese pop culture, especially the Harajuku phenomenon.

Here he talks us through his career development:

The earliest evidence of my love for drawing is from an exercise book, c.1975. Also a Christmas Card to my Grand Mother from approximately the same time. Sadly my parents didn’t keep hold of many of my childhood drawings and paintings. There is a bit of a jump to the next piece (skull), which is from around 1986/7 judging by the huge signature I was pleased with this one. I have a folder of drawings from secondary school, most are of bands and stars from the 80s, maybe my early love for drawing Madonna has influenced how I do things now.

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The white assemblage piece is from my time at art college, c.1992. I loved collaging together found objects and toys into ornate shrines, akin to a very primitive version of what Kris Kuksi produces today. The other photo, with me in it, is my art college show. At the time I thought I was on top of the world, sadly, the drawings/paintings are pretty crude, however, they are done on multi layers of collaged paper and objects, much the same as current work.
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Following that, the sketchbook work is from 1995, just after I left university, at uni I specialised in experimental film, a link to some of my finished animation is here-
http://bit.ly/RKIydb

This was about the point where I started to learn things, I paid no attention at uni and treated it as a bit of a joke, unfortunately that hit me hard when I was trying to find employment, at which I failed miserably.

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The few paintings and the interior shot are from a short period c.2001 after I had had enough of doing pointless jobs. I set up my own gallery, albeit briefly, and really began to get work churning out. This never really amounted to much and I began to get further frustrated, to the point where it was either do or die.
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Around 2004 I began to work in the same way I do now, the colour pieces are basic incarnations of my current practice. Still fairly primitive, done with pen and computer.

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The later pieces show how this method has progressed as I began to get more confident using the pc and properly started to use the internet to gain feedback. The same basic method of drawing, mark making and computer editing runs throughout the remaining images, some are sketches, some finished works that I have sold or released as prints.
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Born and raised in the wilds of Shropshire by two creative parents, I was given my first painting experience through tuition from my illustrator dad who taught me some basic principles of painting. I just about remember painting this portrait of my dad in his studio, which I think, was my first figurative work. I dug it out of a pile of old paintings of mine that my dad had kept from when I was a kid, Its still one of my favorite paintings.

Painting of Dad - Aged 5

Painting of Dad – Aged 5

This is a photo taken about 3 years ago of my dad and his portrait on the way to get it framed.

My paintings didn’t become serious until the final year of my degree and an eventful and profound experience on a trip to St Petersburg changed my approach and justification for painting. From painting the mundane to creating paintings that portrayed more extreme subject matter that played with the emotions of the viewer.

Cat and Mouse, 2004, 120x120cm, Oil on Canvas

Cat and Mouse, 2004, 120x120cm, Oil on Canvas

cat has a fag, 2004, 120x120, oil on canvas, private collection

cat has a fag, 2004, 120×120, oil on canvas, private collection

2007-08

I have always hugely enjoyed the physical process of making paintings, but due to the time it would take to cut, chamfer, miter, build, stretch and prime a canvas, not to mention the expense and mess it would create in my small windowless studio I rented at the time, I moved from painting on canvas to ply wood that I would salvage from building sites and skips. The durable surface allowed me to be more ruthless with the painting, using power tools and industrial materials in the painting process, feverishly adding and removing paint from the surface, which has now become a important part of my painting style.

Giving the v, 2007

Giving the v, 2007

 The Bure and Barb, 2008


The Bure and Barb, 2008

Holliway, 2008

Holliway, 2008

2009-10
A solo show in London gave me the opportunity to explore an idea and develop more complex narratives on larger boards, collaging characters and paint effects.

Rays supper, 68x110cm

Rays supper, 68x110cm

I didnt Know it was loaded sorry, 73x91cm

I didnt Know it was loaded sorry, 73x91cm

I was commissioned by Federal Bikes to paint portraits of 7 of their riders to head their advertising campaign for 2011. The nature of the magazines advert layout and shape determined the composition of the work, this encouraged me to explore with large areas of abstract mark making which has continued into my current work.

Bruno Hoffman, 2011

Bruno Hoffman, 2011

 

Mark love AKA maggot, 2011

Mark love AKA maggot, 2011

2010-12

Bad Manners, 2010, 122x158cm

Bad Manners, 2010, 122x158cm

 

The Mexcan, 2011

The Mexcan, 2011

 

Ray has a black dog, Oil on Board 38x42, 2012

Ray has a black dog, Oil on Board 38×42, 2012

 

You mention both your parents were creative and that your dad was an illustrator. What type of work did he do? Is there anything stylistically you have taken from him?
My Dad created a character and strip cartoon called Ogri that’s featured in motorbike magazines Bike and BSH. He also illustrates the Tom Sharp novels. I’m incredibly proud of my dad and his work; he’s always working hard, which has been a great inspiration. There isn’t a direct influence from his work but some very subtle links. We have a similar scene of humor, slightly macabre and pessimistic.

What did your Mum do in the creative fields?
My mum was a dress designer but is now into doing up properties. She is very hands on and incredibly practical. From an early age I was shown how to make my own clothes and always found myself being roped into knocking up plaster, knocking down and re building walls and decorating rooms.

If it’s not too personal, can you tell me what happened in St Petersburg (See Retrospective) which had such a strong impact on your work? Was it a specific even or the experiences of the whole trip?
Well, St Petersburg is amazing, but I don’t think I will go to Russia again after my last trip there. It was a trip organised by my college to visit The Hermitage and other sights about the city. I think the first miss judgment I made was buying arctic clothing from an army surplus store. Whilst everyone else on the trip was mugged in some way my mate Kenton and I considered ourselves more street wise, leaving all valuables including passports in a safe at the hotel and only taking out the money needed for the day shoved down our socks. We were more daring too, venturing out in the evening looking for the back street clubs. On the last night whilst everyone else was safely back at the hotel we went looking for one of the best clubs in town. We met up with a Russian soap star who took us as one of his guests to a nightclub housed in a disused nuclear bunker in the center of a park, (I have to say it was one of the most amazing clubs I have ever been to). After drinking a lot of vodka we said our goodbyes and left the club. I knew it was a long walk back to the hotel so I went for pee behind a tree in the park. Suddenly I was dragged by two heavy handed policemen to a waiting police car, leaving Kenton running down the street after us, they drove me to a police station where I was interrogated in Russian, searched, striped and beaten, climaxing with cigarettes being extinguished on my face. It was only when there was a change in shift that I was able to escape.

I’m still not sure if it was the having a piss in a park or the ex army clothing and the lack of identification that warranted my treatment and 7 hour incarceration, either way it had a lasting affect on the way I portray the world. I feel we are all the victims of some sort or another, consciously or unconsciously affected by a disaster and tragedy that mark us in a way. The people and situations I portray are possibly exaggerations, but are an attempt to show elements of human emotion and experience that is quite common. None of us are strangers to loneliness, rejection, fear, sadness and loss.

Most of your work seems to have a story behind it. Where do you get your inspiration/ideas from?
Most of my work is drawn up from observation from people in my hometown combined with personal thoughts and experiences, with elements of renascence imagery and doodles based around an object.

Your actual painting process sounds quite physically intense. Do you work on one piece at a time and put your energies into that from start to finish or are you buzzing from one piece to another?
I generally work on a few pieces at the same time and get them out of the studio as quickly as I can. I find it difficult not to fiddle with paintings if there isn’t a dead line. I have been known to paint over paintings completely that have been in my studio for a while. It’s only when I look at pictures of the work before I started fiddling that I see I should have bloody left it as it was. I have a commission that’s been running for over a year now because I keep changing it. It was great when I first finished it, then I started making small changes, over worked it and re painted the whole thing. I’ve done that about 6 times with this painting, it’s great now, so I have hidden it away in another room till it’s collected.

As you say in the retrospective, the backgrounds of your work have become much more abstracted since the federal bikes commission and before they were quite dark and stark. Either way they’ve been very much a backdrop to the main character(s) and don’t really give any clues as to what the story is. To me it forces the viewer to focus entirely on the emotion of the characters. Is that the intention?
You’re right, the abstract background does put focus on the characters, I feel it’s irrelevant to show where they are, but what’s going on. Its unintentional, what I mean is rather than trying to control every element of the painting I try to be spontaneous in making decisions letting paint just be paint. Of course this is a lot more difficult than is sounds and I find it just as rewarding as painting the figurative elements in and amongst it.

You’re work has the characters stripped back to their base emotions. Recently this has been extended further with having the characters topless or seemingly naked – They have nowhere and nothing to hide. Was that a deliberate decision?
Yes, if you have someone’s top off and it creates some vulnerability, also it can show a confidence and even ego.

It’s interesting that you only seem to paint men. Why is that? Is it that you can’t project the dark emotions you deal with onto women?
I have painted a couple of women and since then I have a few more women asking to be painted. I find painting women confuses elements of sexuality and beauty with the subject. I feel if you were to imagine a woman in the place of one of the men in my paintings it would have a completely different effect on you. The women I have painted have been painted with their bra and pants on as to be in between clothed and unclothed, trying to avoid anything that could be seen as sexual. Not sure if it’s successful or not.

“The most hideous form of so called art I’ve ever seen. I though the person responsible must be mentally ill. I find it offensive and sad that anyone thinks that is art”
I saw the above quote by someone on your Facebook page. While it’s an incredibly small minded and unsophisticated view, it’s a genuine view nonetheless. Have you come across that sort of reaction to your work before? Do you laugh it off and ignore it as the views of someone with no emotional or artistic intelligence or do you actually take anything positive from it?
Another great quote on your Facebook page was that the “discomfort of being human is so brilliantly portrayed”. I suppose if you accept that second quote then you can understand the first reaction somewhat.
To the first statement, I am absolutely flattered that someone would purposely find my facebook page to write a comment like that. It had me in stiches for a while. My mate and fellow artist ‘Bael’ saw it and made some comments, I hoped she would keep up the conversation but went silent after that.

I think it’s great that people feel strongly about Art. I think art should cause a reaction whether it’s positive or negative, a reaction that brings out emotions, is a good thing. I think that’s when Art is doing its job.

I had a painting stolen from a show once; the person took it off the wall, sneaking out with it at the private view. That’s the only time where I haven’t known immediately how to react. I was both flattered and pissed off at the same time. The mad thing is that the painting was returned anonymously to the gallery the next week carefully warped in bubble wrap. What kind of statement is that?

What next for you? Since you had a creative epiphany in St Petersburg, have you taken any other journeys looking for further inspiration? Do you have any more planned?
In fact, I’m off to India for four months just for that exact reason. It has such extremes, contrasts and contradictions, as you probably know India has the one of the fastest growing economies but still has some of the greatest poverty. It’s also one of the oldest civilizations and is fantastically cultural and religiously diverse. My paintings are about humanity and I think India has a great cross section of that. I feel I will learn a lot from being there and will I’m sure have some experiences that will inform my work and leave a lasting impression on it.

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