London Art Spot: David Breuer-Weil

DBW with Emergence in Hanover SqPhoto: David with “Emergence” in Hanover Square

Deep in the Vaults, the tunnels under Waterloo, painter and sculptor David Breuer-Weil welcomes us into the creative world of his imagination. Down there, you’ll find a labyrinth of sculptures and large paintings produced for Project 4, the lastest of a series of projects that have spanned the last 12 years – a serious voyage of artistic discovery. With a family history that includes big topics like immigration and war as well as an an artist as a father and a mother who grew up surrounded by the Danish landscape, David has plenty to inspire his work. He’s been painting on canvas for decades and is currently working on a massive new sculpture called Alien which is soon to be released into the urban wilds of London.

Read on to find out why David chose The Vaults for his latest exhibition venue, how politics and history play a large role in his work and where you can find his favourite London discovery.

Translation, 2008, oil on canvasPhoto: Translation, 2008, oil on canvas

LLO: Tell us a bit about your background as an artist. What lead you to a career of visual creativity? Are you self taught or formally trained and how long have you been painting? 
DB-W: I grew up with art from an early age and was very much a studio child, as my father is an artist and I have painted on canvas since the age of ten. I went to Central Saint Martin’s School of Art where I was taught by Shelley Fausset, Henry Moore’s assistant sculptor. Afterwards, I studied at Clare College Cambridge.

Milky-Way, 2012, acrylic on canvasPhoto: Milky Way, 2012, acrylic on canvas 

LLO: There is a gap of about 12 years between the exhibition of The Project and Project 4. When you look back at the whole series of four different London shows, in what ways has your style, motivation or purpose changed, if at all?
DB-W: The Project is a voyage of discovery. Project 1 was a bit of a shock to the system – both for me and the viewers – in that I wanted to stare into the heart of darkness of modern man, confronting some of his darkest issues. These have remained with me but the Project has moved from using raw, underground colours to images of great light, such as the solar system. The Project explores history, belonging and our place in the universe. Recently, I have started to think a lot about the fact that humanity exists on a small rock, one of billions in infinite space. The Project confronts the human condition and puts it in the context of a vast universe with infinite possibilities. When I started The Project, I thought that we were at the end of history but now I think we are at the beginning. My painting has become increasingly textured and varied in colour which reflects my search for new physical and psychological worlds. Art gives me the opportunity to explore internal worlds of the imagination as well and, because of this, I have also started making more sculpture.

Individuals, 2009, oil on canvasPhoto: Individuals, 2009, oil on canvas

LLO: You’re exhibiting Project 4 in the dark Vaults off of Leake Street, a well known designated graffiti area, with trains running overhead. Talk about the choice of venue and atmosphere of your latest show.
DB-W: All of the Projects have been held in vast raw urban spaces. I like the idea of the exhibition space as a metaphor for the human mind. By this I mean that the viewer walks into the tunnels and enters an inner world of the imagination – like taking a stroll in the artist’s mind. I also believe that the art establishment often presents the public with relatively sterile or facile works and environments and I try to strike a deeper note, to excavate into the darker depths of the soul (if this is possible). Our art world has become densely materialistic but I am trying to say that art can offer more; it can plumb the depths, it can be more than a fashion accessory or interior decoration and it can be more than an investment vehicle.  For me, art is a way for an individual to express his or her feelings about the absurd mystery of life.

David Breuer-Weil, Suburb 2 (Secret), 2008, 200 x 344 cmPhoto: Suburb 2 (Secret), 2008

LLO: You start with the paint rather than drawing, resulting in an underpainting full of creative energy. Tell us about your approach to the canvas and your method of painting, from the conception of an idea to completion of a project.
DB-W: I believe that for a painting to be really successful it must speak through the language of paint.  Although my work is very conceptual, in the sense that my images are filled with concepts and ideas, these ideas are given physical and psychological impact by the physical power of the paint. I usually paint the first layer with great violence, attacking the canvas with brute force, but I usually have an image in my mind based on an idea that I have developed in multiple sketches and drawings, and this image comes to life in the paint, almost like the painful or traumatic birth of an idea. I let that layer dry and then work up the canvas in several layers. I like the idea that the process of painting mirrors the fact that a painting can have several levels of meaning as well as several physical levels. For me, a great painting should work simultaneously on the intellect and the emotions. Otherwise, it is merely a concept or a decoration. In addition to painting in my studio, I spend a lot of time travelling when I draw a great deal in pencil. I still believe in drawing and what I look for in other artists is their draughtsmanship. There are thousands of artists, but only a small handful of great draughtsmen in any generation.

David Breuer-Weil, Life Line, 2007, 198 x 394cmPhoto: Life Line, 2007

LLO: Sculpture is another medium you work with regularly and you’ve had installations in Hanover Square and Golders Hill Park. The sculptures have a sort of primal look about them. Tell us about the concept behind some of your latest pieces.
DB-W: I exhibited two large bronze pieces with Sotheby’s at Chatsworth House in 2010 and 2011 and was encouraged by the response to develop sculpture further in public spaces.  One of the Chatsworth pieces was of two feet sticking out the ground (Visitor 2), as if a large person had fallen to earth from a great height. In this and other works I wanted to combine the monumentality of Stonehenge with the imagery of my two-dimensional works. I love the idea that a city like London can be a vast canvas on which to exhibit public sculptures and that the public does not need to go to a museum to engage with an artwork.

The sculptures are very primal and instinctive. I have always been inspired by the idea written in Genesis that humanity was literally born from the ground. When I make a figure in clay it reminds me of this concept, like building a man from the earth. Many of the new sculptures carry ideas from my paintings into three dimensions. My latest sculpture, 18 feet tall, is of an alien that has crash-landed on earth, the very opposite of a man born from the earth. But other than being a lot bigger, this alien is the same as all of us. I like to think that aliens are versions of ourselves but this piece is very ambiguous. My grandfather was a refugee from Nazi-occupied Vienna and when he arrived in England he was branded as an “enemy alien”. We’ll be installing this piece in London soon so do watch out – Alien isn’t easy to miss.

Emergence, which you may have seen in Hanover Square, has been included in Project 4, rising from a murky pool of water in one of the wet brick tunnels.

DBW working on AlienPhoto: David working on his latest sculpture, Alien

LLO: In a video about your show, when talking about your sculptures, you said: “Somehow just a straight portrait is no long as true as a deconstructed portrait.” Tell us a bit more about what you mean by that and how this statement relates to your own work.
DB-W: It has been said that there cannot be poetry after Auschwitz. I think that is a difficult but crucial statement because the world retains its beauty and artists want to celebrate that beauty. However, I take from Adorno’s famous statement the thought that it is no longer convincing to create a straightforward representation of a face or an object and have it speak powerfully as a modern icon. Contemporary art or poetry has to convince the viewer that it is relevant to the condition of modernity because as a species we have lost our innocence. There can still be poetry but a kind of skewed or distorted poetry. Rather, we must discover the beauty of the world by fighting through our knowledge of what our fellow human beings are capable of doing. It is a hard-won process for a contemporary artist to paint something both beautiful and relevant. Perhaps it is partly for this reason that I am thinking of other, not yet tainted, worlds like Franz Marc looked to the innocence of the animal kingdom to regenerate the art of his time.

David Breuer-Weil, Infinity, 2009, 205 x 351cmPhoto: Infinity, 2009

LLO: You often work on a very large scale. Why this preference? What significance does it have for your body of work?
DB-W: I often feel the need to work on a large scale because I need to enter the world of the object I am making, as does the viewer, especially with the Project works. The compositions can be very complex and disorienting and require scale and a vast array of textures and differing emotional scales, almost like a piece of music. However, in other bodies of works I work on a far smaller scale. When I started the Project the idea was to create this massive series of large works to be installed permanently together, a kind of massive cave painting for the modern soul. I have not abandoned that idea and am still looking to install Projects 1-4 together.

David Breuer-Weil, Constellation, 2012, oil on canvas, 200 x 325 cmPhoto: Constellation, 2012, oil on canvas

LLO: What is the artist’s role in daily life, politics, history? What do you hope, on a general scale, to communicate through your body of work?
DB-W: We may not realise it at the time but art that reflects its moment in history often becomes the most significant in the long term.  The best art paradoxically tends to be universal and timeless whilst being specific and of its time. For that reason, the artist often unconsciously avoids being a direct political commentator or historian but rather somebody who may reflect the strength of his or her feelings about these matters in a way that becomes symbolic. In other words, rather than being illustrative, I find it important to create archetypal images that will reflect some aspect of human nature even when times have changed. So, for example, whilst it might be possible to interpret some of my works as reflective of a historical moment, or a comment on politics, they are really about the things that lie behind. I want to show that issues such as belonging, homeland, territory, possessiveness, ancestry, the passage of the generations and of time, the difficulty of communicating with one another accurately are all major subjects. But, these are subjects that have always been and always will be there. Essentially my aim is to make people think through images.

David Breuer-Weil, Blessing 3, 2007, 194 x 369cmPhoto: Blessing, 2007

LLO: How has your own family history influenced your work?
DB-W: The fact that both my parents were immigrants to England and have since left England is a major influence because my imagination is freed by a sense of insecurity. My mother’s father was killed by the Nazis and my father also lost many family members during World War II. Some of my earlier Project works reflect the traumas of that generation. My mother’s Danish background has been an inspiration for a lot of the landscape elements in my work. My father is from Vienna and there is an Austrian Expressionist tendency in some of my work, especially my earlier paintings. Many of the School of London painters had a similar background and sense of having come from elsewhere but having matured in this magisterial town of London, for example Auerbach and Freud.

David Breuer-Weil, Ascent, 2012, oil and acrylic on canvas, 204 x 344cmPhoto: Ascent, 2012, oil and acrylic on canvas

LLO: On a different, more light-hearted topic, what is the best hidden gem you’ve discovered in London?
DB-W: I wouldn’t necessarily call it light-hearted but probably Michelangelo’s marble tondo sculpture hidden away on the top floor of the Royal Academy.

Birth, 2008, oil on canvasPhoto: Birth, 2008, oil on canvas

Thanks David!

To read more about David, visit his website or follow him on Twitter @davidbreuerweil

David’s work is currently on exhibition:  

Venue: The Vaults, Arch 233, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN
Dates: Now through March 24, 2013
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am – 6pm; Sunday, 12 – 4pm
Admission: Free

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London Art Spot: Darren MacPherson

If you’re looking for something a bit different to do one day, you can pop down to Hounslow and watch through the large street windows of figurative painter Darren MacPherson’s workshop as he creates is latest pieces. He will most likely be absorbed in the beat of his loud music and probably covered in splotches of brightly (some even say jarring) coloured spray paint or acrylics that he so loves. 

His work is built with layers of content, negative space in the background making the figures pop. It may seem a chaotic method of working, erratic even, but it all comes together with some eye-catching, stunning results.

Darren’s been featured at some pretty prestigious events like FLAGSTOP in Los Angeles, the inaugural Other Art Fair in London and the 2011 National Open Art Exhibition. And now, of course, he’s gracing the pages of Little London Observationist. 

Read on for the details of his upcoming London show with a ceramicist, the reasons why he’s glad he never went through art school and a little secret about a particular object from 1969 that he’d like to paint in the near future.  

LLO: In which ways does living in London inspire your creativity?
DM:
 I love the differences around us in London, the people, the architecture, art – there is just something for everyone and it’s always evolving. I’m always interested to see how areas change and develop and whether that change is organic or more synthetic. Although I’m inspired by street art and graffiti, it’s the way it builds up over time that really motivates me, the different layers of posters, spray paint, adverts etc; I try to recreate this layering process in the backgrounds of my paintings.

 Indian Yakuza

LLO:  The first thing that hits me when I look at your work is your incredible use of bold colours. Why is colour so important to you? How has your style developed and changed over the years?
DM: There are such amazing colours available these days it seems so natural to use them. I often hear that an artist should reflect the time they live in and I try to use the most up-to-date materials that I can. I’m keen to see how colours interact both with each other and with the surface they lay upon. Many people say the colours I use shouldn’t work and they are surprised that they do. I’m also reflecting nature; you don’t look at an amazing array of flowers in a garden or at a florist and say that the colours don’t work together. Of course there are colour palettes that work better and are safer to use than others and thought should always go into the use of colour, but I try to stretch those perceptions.

 Truth

LLO: Is your figurative work based on real life models, photographs, imagination…? How does your background in social studies play into your work if at all?
DM: I prefer to use real life models but will work from photographs. I never paint a figure from my imagination; the final piece must always be of a real person. I’ll paint imaginative figures into the backgrounds however, but these often become obscured or covered up completely. In my previous role as a social worker I was obviously interested in people and the human condition. I view the layers that make up the backgrounds in my work as the strata and complexity that makes up an individual.

Six Yajuza Pt 2

LLO: To what extent do titles play a role in giving meaning to your paintings? Do you have a title in mind when you paint or is this something that develops when a piece is finished?
DM: A title anchors the picture. I’ve never understood why pieces have ‘untitled’ as a title as that still constitutes a title so at least give it some thought. I rarely formulate titles until a piece is finished and I’ll think about the completed composition, inspirations or feelings I had when painting it or maybe the title will be something that I wish to convey. A title gives an insight into the artist and what they were thinking at that given moment.

As We Go Hand in Hand

LLO:  As a self-taught artist, what have been your biggest challenges so far and how have you moved beyond them?
DM: I used to have a lot of insecurity about not having a fine art degree or not going to art school but now I’m actually quite relieved. I realise that I can embrace my creativity without having been told that what I’m doing is incorrect or not relevant. I’ve come across many artists who have commented that their creativity was taught out of them at art school and I’ve seen examples of this on courses I’ve attended. I’m not saying that what is taught is wrong just that it should be balanced with natural flair. I guess established artists have managed to find that balance and maybe that’s why they’ve become successful.

Postcard

LLO: You’ve painted on denim, sunglasses and other found objects. What’s the most interesting object you’ve painted on, in your opinion? Anything in particular you’d like to use as a canvas in the future?
DM: The sunglasses were definitely a challenge, mainly because they were for a specific purpose whereas other objects I’ve painted have been experimental and of my own choosing. Seven of us were commissioned to create a customised pair of glasses Debut Contemporary and TOMS Eyewear for their pop up shop in Covent garden. I tried to think about my painting style coupled with TOMS philosophy; I was happy with the results.

I recently sent out 88 hand embellished postcards that I’d picked up in a second hand bookshop. They were all individual photographs of Japanese kids wearing outlandish fashion, so I embellished them and put a shoutout on Facebook to anyone that wanted one mailed to them to send me their address and share the photo album of the cards on their profile. They were all gone in 48 hours. I liked the idea of the artwork sending itself through the post and the notion of making art available to those who wouldn’t or couldn’t ordinarily acquire an artwork.

Anything I’d like to use as a canvas…? I would really like to paint a full size car in my style. I also had an idea to paint a 1969 Vespa scooter and ride it around an exhibition…Watch this space!

LLO: You said in another interview I read that you really want to push your artistic boundaries this year. How so?
DM:
 I wanted to challenge myself in ways I haven’t previously, in my painting and in exhibiting. Artists must develop, and in order to do so one mustn’t become complacent and stay within one’s comfort zone. So this year I’ve gone large with canvas size, the biggest being almost 3m in length; I also reversed my painting style to incorporate some detail into the figures and surround them with abstraction instead of presenting the abstract background upon the figure. This has allowed me to develop new techniques of pouring and pushing very wet paint around the canvas (or denim), which, I have to say, is really difficult to control but the results have been stunning.

Another step for me this year is that on 7th June, I open a show with one other artist – ceramicist Patrick Colhoun – at a new gallery space in North Greenwich. This will be the first time I have all of the wall space in a gallery to myself. Details below.

LLO: Describe your studio in Hounslow for us.
DM: One word…mess! It’s a total workshop, but it’s also got these huge windows onto the street so passersby can stop and watch me work. Many people will knock on the door and show their appreciation as there aren’t, to my knowledge, any other artists in the immediate area, particularly ones that are so visible. I like that people can stand and watch and pass comment; it has some immediacy to it. I always listen to loud music to get my expressionism going. Favourites are Outkast and Rage Against The Machine but I’ll listen to classical and more mellow music to try and get in touch with different feelings.

No Art, No Money

LLO: What do you hope to communicate through your work?
DM: I want people to look at my work and feel positive and uplifted. I don’t want people to look too deeply for meaning or hidden significance. Although meaning is always present in everybody’s work, I just don’t like it when people begin to intellectualise the work. I had an experience recently where someone was almost questioning every brush stroke and trying to apply why I did things in a certain way, and they were so far off the mark. I paint because I enjoy it and I want others to enjoy it too. I also want to leave a legacy, an imprint of my existence in the world long after I’m gone.

Self Portrait

LLO: Tell us about your life outside of art in a few sentences
DM: I have three daughters so most of my time is taken up with being a father. They are a true inspiration to me and I’m blessed to have three such wonderful people in my life. Dislikes? Negative people and negative attitude. I’m a ‘can do’ person, so I try not to waste too much time on those that want to bring you down.

At 2011 National Open Art Exhibition

Thanks Darren!

You can also find Darren on his website, Facebook and Twitter.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

London Art Spot: Cosmo Sarson

When I first checked out London painter Cosmo Sarson’s website, his About section simply said “I’m up and out of bed, what more do you want?” In fact, it may still say that. But clearly Cosmo is a man with a lot to talk about when it comes to about his life and work, because he’s spilled the story for us hereAnd if you like what you read, be sure to stop by the Hospital Club in Covent Garden where his work is on display until December 2011.

Read on to hear about how this born and bred Londoner’s artistic life has unfolded, the story behind his recent street art piece on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane which has gotten so much attention, and his passion for breakdancing.

LLO: Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity and in what ways?
CS: I was born and bred in London, so I am a product of the old town.

If you’ve grown up here you’re just wizend, not jaded, just experienced. You’re not from the provinces trying to tap into it, you’ve got it already. You’ve already been to the best clubs. You were there when it happened, heard the latest tune, seen the latest show, met the latest ‘Jonny Big Bollocks’, bought the latest trainers, tried the latest drug. You did it when you were 13. You’ve been ripped off a million times, maybe tried to rip some one else off, pulled a few yourself on the way, you’re just a product of an urban environment. It’s a big city, full of nutters, there’s good and bad, racist homophobic fucks and beautiful enlightened beings, people who have got it and those that don’t, a city of light and shade. How does that affect your creativity? I don’t know.

The fact that London has some of the finest theatres, operas, museums, galleries and fancy restaurants in Christendom is, of course, a bonus.

LLO: You have three different sections on your website: “New Work” “Old Work” and simply “Work”. Do these sections represent different chapters of your career, places where your style has changed?
CS: I stopped painting and hung up my brushes in ’97 after my solo show on Regent Street. This is Old Work.

I blew the dust off them again in 2009. This is New work.

“Work” is how I make money.

Being an artist isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle, and it only pays for the lucky few, so you’ve got to work out how to survive and paint at the same time.

In the long gap between ’97 to ’09 I set out to find a career that fulfilled me creatively as well as paid well. It wasn’t easy to work 9-5 and keep the studio going. I found work as an art director in advertising for a while, before finding my way into the film industry as a scenic artist. I paint everything from the large scenic backings that surround a set, to old master paintings that are hung as props, from frescoes to graffiti, from medieval to modern. I can make my art again because I’ve got a job that is sufficiently intermittent but pays enough to allow me to get in the studio when I’m in between films.

I’ve got the balance right now, I’m painting when I’m working, and painting when I’m not.

LLO: In your “Old Work” section, you explore the crazy world of advertising campaigns, and parody them in your own work. Tell us a bit about your interest in advertising.
CS: Yeah, at the time – around ’95-’97 – street/extreme sports was a big thing in the media. It had always been there, but as an underground thing. Suddenly there were loads of programmes about it on TV, it was featured in fashion magazines, music videos, new specialist magazines were coming out, ad campaigns and so on. It was the flavour of the da. It became a cash cow and hit the mainstream. Kind of like street art is now, everyone wanted a piece of it.

When Pepsi started trying to connect with the my generation by doing loads of snowboarding/skateboarding ads, it was the last straw. I tried to hold it up to the light and draw attention to it by repeating the trick, painting what were essentially ads with street sports as the subject matter and my name as a logo. I look back at that work now and I’m not sure if I really pulled it off. The paintings look more like self promotion (which was kind of the point), but I was trying to say something deeper, more cynical than that. I was trying to be ironic. I should have pushed that work further.

LLO: Your piece “Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey” is painted on to the same material that US Army uniforms are made from. What other interesting materials have you painted on? Do you have a favourite?
CS: I’ve just done a series of riot cops onto hi-viz reflective material, the same stuff they have on police uniforms. In the same way the army camo related to the GI’s I was painting, the hi-viz refers back to the subject matter. I’m planning to rummage through some charity shops and stitch together a bunch of clothing – tracksuit tops, hoodies, denim etc. and paint loads of looters from the riots. It just provides an extra layer of reference to the work.

Actually, I might do some shop lifting instead. “Portrait of a Looter” – Oil on Adidas Jacket, stolen on Tottenham High Street, 2011.

LLO: When you’re not painting, you’re into break-dancing, right? How long have you been dancing? What’s your best move?
CS: I love it, but I’m crap. I started in ’83. We used to turn up early to school so we could practice on the lino floors of the rooms before class.

I’m famous for pulling off a 3/4 windmill on my face when I’m pissed. I still bear the scars, but every wedding reception I go to, I keep making the same mistake.

LLO: You’ve done quite a bit of work on film sets – Into the Hoods, Harry Brown, Children of Men. Which film set of the past would you love to have helped design?
CS: I’m lucky enough to have worked with some of the best production designers around – John Beard who designed ‘Brazil’, Dante Ferretti who designed ‘Baron Munchausen’ – but one guy I never met was Ken Adam who did all the early Bond films, Dr Strangelove, Goldfinger, Dr. No etc. That would have been cool.

LLO: Much of your work is based on photographs. Which London-based photographers do you most admire and why?
CS: Right now, it’s my man David Hoffman. He’s a front line photo journalist who’s had his teeth knocked out by riot police getting ‘that’ picture. He’s been kind enough to allow me to work from his shots of the Student Riots.

You should check out some of his early stuff too – Brick lane in the ‘80’s, Broadwater farm and the Poll Tax riots.

LLO: You were recently featured in the Scrawl Collective’s book with your piece “Breakdancing Jesus”. Tell us a bit about how this piece came about.
CS: The Breakdancing Jesus painting was one of the ideas I had and held onto during the dark 12 years I didn’t have a studio. I promised myself that it would be one of the first paintings I would make upon my eventual return. (I was also sitting on the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey idea through that time too).

My last paintings of ’97 were self portraits of me breakdancing, so like Jesus coming out of the cave, it was kind of apocryphal that I should return from the dead also, and to the same subject matter, but with Christ risen in my place.

But really, it was just one of those random ideas.

LLO: Your career actually started as a street artist, didn’t it? Tell us about the piece you put up on Hanbury Street near Brick Lane this summer. Can we expect more street art from you in the coming months?
CS: No, I’m not really a street artist. I’m just a painter who occasions upon a wall. I went to art school, studied the old masters and trained in the ancient art of oil painting.

There’s a strange dichotomy down brick lane, where the art is like some kind of white middle class cultural invasion pushing itself on to what is obviously a tight knit Bangladeshi community and I felt that needed redressing somehow. It’s a portrait of a Bangladeshi girl in front of broken glass and layered graff marks. She represents the local Bangladeshi community, the broken glass and mark making are symbolic of urban decay. Bear in mind I was painting it as the riots were kicking off.

They’ll be more walls to come, for sure, when and wherever I find the opportunity.

LLO: What are you working on now? Any exhibition plans lined up for the near future?
CS: I’ve just spent the last few months on a film that has thankfully come to an end and allows me to disappear into the studio now and come up with a new body of work. I’ve currently got a rack of paintings on show in the Hospital Club, Endell Street, Covent Garden, alongside the likes of Inkie, Ben Slow, George Morton Clark, Finn Dac, Max Weidemann and Carne Griffiths.

The ultimate aim is a solo.

Thanks Cosmo!

You can also find Cosmo here: http://www.cosmosarson.com/

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

If you want to recommend someone for a London Art Spot interview, get in touch!

London Art Spot: Ji Seon Kim

Emptying her vivid imagination onto each large canvas she paints, Ji Seon invites us into a world that resembles this one but truly exists only in her head. With a vibrant palette she works with sweeping brushstrokes, a concern for space and a flair for creating texture in her landscapes. She wants her work to evoke feelings of displacement and loneliness, and the sheer size of the canvas mixed with the deserted scenery does make you realise that there is a massive world out there.

Her recent work draws on inspiration from traditional watercolour painting from her native South Korea and she has a show on in Hoxton at the moment with two other South Korean artists.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Ji Seon talks about a certain beautiful place in London that she would love to paint, tells us where she finds inspirateion for her landscapes and what to expect at her exhibition.

LLO:Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity and in which way?
JS: I have enjoyed living in London for the past 6 years. I think London is a really great city in which I have great experiences, in urban life, and historical and natural landscape. This environment in London motivates and inspires my work. It is also easy to access plenty of interesting exhibitions in London. The intriguing shows open up new possibilities of exploring and developing my practice as well.

LLO: Give us an overview of your working process, from initial idea to final painting.
JS: First, I try to decide which kind of space I would like to paint referring to landscapes I remember from my previous travelling experiences and image books, especially travel magazines. After words, I purely use my imagination to describe the place, and paint my imaginary world.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
JS: If I have to choose one painting, it would be “Orange Cliffs and White Crystal”, because I feel that this painting is more realised in connection with the main concept, which is about playing with marks and colours in an imagery landscape.
LLO: You work with a lot of vibrant colours in scenery that would in real life be quite subdued. What does this add to your landscapes?
JS: I am very interested in creating an imaginary landscape in an artificial way, so I always use really bright and powerful colours in my painting.

LLO: Do you find that your South Korean background inspires your work?
JS: I have produced paintings using different aspects of a Korean sense of space and a western sense of perspective. One of the most significant influences is Korean traditional landscape painting, so I have tried to mix between this influence from my background and my understanding of contemporary western art.

LLO: Your latest work revolves around imaginary landscapes. Is there a place in London that you would like to paint using a similar approach and technique?
JS: I really like Holland Park, particularly Kyoto garden. It is a really beautiful place to get inspirations and motivation for my works.

LLO:Other London-based artists you admire?
JS: Peter Doig. His use of colours and his technique are so interesting and impressive.

LLO: You recently finished your BA in Fine Art from Slade. What are your plans for 2011?
JS: I have just started Master course at Slade from this September 2010. The Master at slade is 2-years course, so I will keep continuing to study this course in 2011. Plus, I am plannig to have an exhibition in Seoul, South Korea in July or August, 2011.

LLO: You have an exhibition from 2-23 December at Arch 402 in Hoxton with artists Gyeong Yoon An and Chinwook Kim. What can we expect from the show?
JS: When I was a BA student, Gyeong Yoon An and Chinwook Kim were MFA students at Slade. At the time, I just thought their works were very interesting, but I couldn’t find any connection between my painting and their works. When we decided to have the show “Imaginary Landscape” at Arch402 and put our works all together, I was so surprised that we do have really a huge connection, which is that our works are coming from our own imagination and delivering viewers into our imaginations, so people can feel and see our imagination world.

LLO: What are you working on now?
JS: I am making a huge imaginary landscape painting as usual. In order to do more challenge with my painting, I am exploring the intersection of abstraction and representation through the imaginary landscape.

Thanks Ji Seon!

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London Art Spot: David Walker

Most people’s first job involved burgers and fries. David walker’s first job was creating t-shirt designs for The Prodigy. After that, he started designing record sleeves and party art before running his own street wear label called “Subsurface” for five years. It was only three years ago that he started painting. (Pretty impressive he’s accomplished all of that considering he’s broken his hand over 10 times!)

Once a fan of only black and white (with a little bit of pink thrown in for good measure), David now paints with in explosions of colour following his discovery of a little treasure box of spraypaint tucked away in a studio. His portraits are realistically surreal – the sort of images that make you stare for ages.

For this week’s London Art Spot, David explains who the women are that he loves to paint, tells us about his current show on Kings Road and lets us in on where he’ll be hiding out this summer with possible big plans for 2011.

LLO: Which aspects of London life most influence your creativity and how?
DW: I like the randomness of cities and the anticipation that anything can happen (good or bad) and that in turn you can make things happen. I have lived in small towns where there is just not the same sense of possibility, so this is very inspirational for me. I feel privileged to be making art full time and the speed in which this city can move pushes me forward.

LLO: Faces are the main subject of your work. Who are the people you paint? Do you know them?
DW: I don’t know them at all. I like that they’ve never met me and they don’t know they’re being painted. I use found photography, old magazines, the web, snapshots, anything that’s not staged by me. The fact that the subjects are unknown also allows people to make up there own narrative to the portraits.

LLO: Do you have a muse?
DW: I’m still trying to find one, but I’ve been told that they find you so maybe I should stop looking.

LLO: Tell us about your approach to your work, your unique “no brushes” style and your choice of fantastic vibrant colours.
DW: I’m drawn towards the idea of making something beautiful out of what could be classed as lo-brow materials and methods. I don’t use brushes because I want the pieces to raise a question about graffiti and traditional painting as there can be strong preconceived ideas about both. People are normally quite surprised the work is made from spray paint and I think many are also surprised they actually like the work when its outside on a wall; suddenly they have connected with a scene that they previously had no time for at all.

As for colours, I’ve gone from two extremes. For two years, I only painted in black, white and pink (as it was cheaper and allowed me to concentrate on the subject more), then I came across a  box of random coloured spray paint that had been buried in the studio and started exploring as many colours as I could and all at once. It just felt right at the time and it’s been a lot of fun.

LLO: Favourite memory of painting on the walls of London?
DW: Pretty much every time I paint outside, someone comes up to me at the end of the day and says “I saw you doing this earlier and I thought it was gonna be a right load of old crap, but I like it now. Nice one.” I think this is a great compliment.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
DW: I’m really happy with this one (above). There were probably at least ten times I wanted to throw it off the fire escape. It finally came together the night before it had to be delivered to a show, so I was glad she made it. It’s not been easy between me and her.

LLO: You’re part of the Scrawl Collective. Tell us about this group and how you contribute.
DW: It’s a bunch of artists with different styles and practises. We all dip in and out of it I guess. We do shows here and there, projects come up or one of us might get an idea and get others involved or sometimes nothing happens at all… It’s the 10th anniversary soon, so there are rumours we may be getting something together.

LLO: Do you prefer exhibiting in galleries or on the street?
DW: They both have there positives and negatives. Walls are great because you have room to be very expressive and lots of people get to see the painting. With gallery work you get to spend time developing techniques and immerse yourself without anyone watching you. I try to balance both but I need to get outside more next year.

LLO: Which other London-based artists do you admire?
DW: So many for so many different reasons. At this very moment: Adam Neate, Will Barras, Polly Morgan, Christopher Moon, Arth Daniels

LLO: Where can we see your work now? Any big plans for 2011?
DW: I’m pleased to be in a great show at the moment called In/Human running until 23rd December 2010 with five other artists at 595 The Kings Rd, London SW6 2EL. I may be doing a major solo show late 2011. I’m still toying with the idea. I will be hiding out in Berlin for the summer and making new work, so we’ll see what happens.

Thanks David!

For more from David, check out his colourful website.

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