What does the phrase «follow your way» mean to you?
Striving to achieve one’s goal, despite barriers, challenges and difficulties. Feeling fear and doing it anyway, taking risks, failing but continuing to push forward. Yet I think finding the thing that floats your boat, that thing that you want to invest your energies in is half the battle.
When and how did you realize that you wanted to be a painter?
It is something that has always been inherent, and throughout school and college, art was the subject that made the most sense. It gave me the most satisfaction and enabled me to understand and interpret my experiences in an innovative manner. Within the wide spectrum of creative processes, painting was the discipline I had a real affinity with, so onto university I went. When I was younger my parents encouraged me to choose more academic subjects in school as opposed to creative, they worried about my financial stability in years to come so urged me to pursue a line of work with a steady income whilst assuring me I could always create art as a hobby. Of course this was sensible and right in many ways, but my belief systems where and are somewhat different to my parents. There are an abundance of achievers out there, people who live the lives they want despite all the practicalities, risks and boundaries involved. I’ve always thought, if them, why not me. It wasn’t difficult for me to imagine and visualize my ideal situation, practicing and functioning as an artist in a comfortable setting, not living on the breadline like my parents feared, and this in fact has become my reality.
Is public opinion about your work important for you?
It’s important for me that people engage with my work and it’s important that my work provokes discourse. Whether people’s opinions are positive or negative is something out of my control, and both positive and negative opinion is something that is guaranteed because we live in a world of diversity.
What are your common trends or identified style?
Key consistent elements include contrast, bold colour, subtle narrative and distortion. The works can often seem disorientating due to the combination of realism, surrealism and absurdity – an artificial surrealism occurs. I try to direct my work away from the insincere sophistication of the traditional system.
Movements such as Neo-expressionism, Colour Field, YBA’s, and Social Realism have been influential. I adore the work of artists such as Philip Guston, Alex Katz, Luc Tuymans and Marlene Dumas, and similarities are easily found between my work and theirs.
What in your life are you proud of?
Right now I’m proud that I’ve managed to make things work in Moscow. I mean, I have made some incredible friends and I’m having a great time here. Initially it was challenging and overwhelming, I didn’t know anyone and from the outset the city seemed inaccessible, which of course is an illusion that anyone can experience when deciding to make a new city a temporary home.
Outside of making friends or becoming involved in the art scene, the basics such as discovering where to buy art materials and get canvases made and stretched was hard work at first, but after a while the city opened up it’s arms to me. I can confidently say that Moscow is a superb city with a unique energy that is vibrant and rich, and the people, the Muscovites are an exquisite bunch. I can proudly and humbly say I feel very much at home here.
List the values that are important to you:
Forgiveness, compassion, self-belief, determination and bravery. I should point out that I feel these values are king, and I hope that one day soon I’ll possess all of these values equally in large amounts, and of course lots of others. With each new day we should try and better ourselves right? Easier said than done of course.
What inspires you?
People! It seems obvious to say but those who struggle and don’t give up the fight! Do-gooders across the spectrum! Those who are brave and generous in their everyday lives… Those with great knowledge who share… Art critics! Anyone who is happy… My friends! I’m lucky enough to have very inspiring people in my life and I will always seek to be surrounded by those who inspire me.
Do you have goals?
A few off the top of my head…
– To get a puppy));
– To strive to be content;
– To continually progress and develop in my practice as an artist and as a person;
– To always have friends and good people around me;
– To share my work in different city around the world;
– To do more good things for others.
If you would have an inexhaustible source of money, what would you do?
Share the love! Free education for all funded by yours truly! How grand that would be. I’d be ridiculously and endlessly generous, so much so that it might cause inflation and society, as we know it would collapse which may or maybe not be a good thing. But to give a sensible answer to an abstract question, I would hire lots of talented people to set up systems and organisations worldwide to help those in need to achieve a better quality of existence, through education mainly, enabling self-sufficiency. I read the following statement years ago, which was written on the door of a toilet cubical in a club, “What if the cure for cancer was trapped in the mind of someone who couldn’t afford an education…” needless to say it has stayed with me. I would invest in renewable energies, I would fund educational establishments that would nurture and fuel the most creative and able minds so that new solutions would be created, politically, socially and technologically. I would sponsor every intensive farm on the planet to convert to organic farming practices. I would buy out all the arms and weapon manufactures worldwide, and turn these places into children’s play parks or themed parks that celebrated different cultural identities. And, and have lots of glorious parties. All this whilst continuing to be an artist of course! I’m good at delegating.)))
Are you successful? Your success formula?
Success is subjective and I feel there are different levels and aspects of success. We can speak about success within relationships, family life or career, the list goes on. In terms of my working practice as an artist, for me success is achieving a certain level of contentment through being in the position and having the skills and opportunity to do what I want, i.e. produce work, engage with the creative community, exhibit my works in different places, have an audience, whilst making a positive impact and continually progressing. Being famous, rich and having lots of money, however alluring, is not something I equate to success. In some ways I suppose I’m successful now, because I have acquired skills through study and experience and I’m pursuing what I want to pursue and I’m slowly but surely making waves. With continued determination and effort, I hope to achieve greater success in my career as an artist, to be an established artist as opposed to an emerging artist which is the stage I’m at now, i.e. exhibit more, acquire a larger audience, continue to meet influential, inspiring people etc.
Essentially being successful isn’t just about achieving the end goal; it’s about purposefully and contentedly engaging in the process, a continual state of mind.
And my advice for those who seek to ‘follow their own way’ and achieve their goals, let’s see; stay focused and determined. Have utter self-belief but not arrogance. Be open to new experiences and people, you never know whom you may meet next. Take risks and be brave. Do embrace failure as a part of the process. Plan steps but enjoy the present. Find balance in all that you do.
Photo by Dario Bologna – www.dariobologna.com