Art Dept Interview
winner of the Realism category in the 2001 International Art Contest, being selected
by such a diverse group of artists from all around the world, how do you feel?
beautiful feeling, to have been chosen as winner. I have never won a major art prize
before, and to be chosen by other artists from all over the world makes it feel more
of an honour to think that many people like what I do and connect with it.
describe your current works and any plans for forthcoming exhibits.
In my recent
work, there has been a strengthening of old master techniques, which I have always studied from the beginning. The works are getting softer and richer in
technique, yet graphically simpler and more powerful. Whereas once I was interested in
presenting people as non specific members of the human species amongst all their
confused problems, I now tend to paint individuals with all their richness and quirks, living more calmly in their own specific
worlds. This directly reflects my own personal growth and feelings of greater calm,
strength and richness in my own life.
In the past,
my figures were usually tormented, and acting out dramas on the stage of the planet,
amidst great absurdities and problems, but often ironically in settings of calm
beauty. The calm beauty of the landscape is still there, but has now penetrated into
the individuals also. I am currently exhibiting with The Rushcutter's Bay Gallery in
Sydney, New South Wales ( www.rbgallery.com ) and with Greenhill
Galleries in Adelaide, South Australia.
If any, in
what ways have you seen changes in attitudes towards "art"?
painter today can be difficult because seemingly every possible technical expansion
and breakthrough has long been mapped and yet our society still demands, esteems and
rewards innovation and newness over other qualities and thus the art of painting has
failed somewhat to hold societies attention for long. It's also difficult because
today artists have been given the ultimate freedom of 'anything goes'. This highly
attractive proposition gives rise to the question “if I can do anything I
want, what then do I do? Who
makes the rules?” It's easy to feel overwhelmed with unlimited possibility or
meaninglessness in a post-modern world but this gives artists the most wonderful and
difficult task of finding out what it is that they really want to do. And it's ideal
because in a sense, the pressure is off. Artists
no longer have to try and keep up with the latest movement in this or that 'ism'.
We now have the arduous and soul enriching task of finding out what is our language
and who else speaks it.
because we no longer have to confine ourselves to one style or way of seeing. The
world is as varied in its perceptions as there are people to perceive so why limit
yourself to only one way of seeing? And so it's true, that today anyone at all can
call themselves an artist, with whatever idea they have, and whatever technique. It is
most definitely, all valid. Yes, you may vomit and call it art. But is it interesting
or entertaining? This can only be decided by the viewer. There can be no more
manifestos on what is art and what isn't. Its all art. But it isn't all therefore
interesting, educational, or worth paying for. Just because you are passionately
expressing your true self, it doesn't follow that the world should care and reward you
for your efforts.
The cream of
what is interesting to the majority of people, will rise naturally to the top, and
then fall again when its assimilated, and something else takes its place. It also
doesn't follow that what is interesting to the majority is therefore 'good'. Art is
neither good nor bad. Art simply holds the attention of any one consciousness for a
certain period of time and is assigned 'interest value' by that individual. Nothing
holds interest forever, its human nature, and interest comes in waves, as fashion
recycles. We all need stimulation and change.
think that the fine artist will survive as technology replaces our skills?
Technology does not replace skills, it only adds new ones. I recently visited an
exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite paintings from the 19th century at the Adelaide Art
Gallery, and the works there were breathtaking. History has not dulled these works,
quite the contrary. Because the skills that were honed to create these works have now
been mostly lost, we can be even more amazed at the astonishing skills of these
painters, and we can look forward to the artists today who are trying to rediscover
these techniques and revive them.
could you give to those embarking upon a career as an artist?
To be an
artist, is to present a gift to the world. Do not think about what you can get, but
what you can give. Follow your inspiration to all the places it leads you, even the
dark ones. This inspiration is divine and you should listen closely, and always follow
your heart. Inspiration is intuition, and intuition if listened to carefully, is
Why did you
enter the Art Dept contest and what decided your selection for entry?
'Kristy's World' was one of my most recent paintings, and a very strong work. The painting was born
from very deep emotion, the woman in the painting being someone very close to me at
the time. When I feel passionately about the subject matter, the painting is bound to
be so much stronger and this painting was no exception. In this painting, I felt I was
closer to my attempts at greater subtlety, simplification of composition, softness of
technique, and richness of texture. All this, whilst also creating the emotional
feeling I wanted to convey also, which was one of austerity and devotion. A kind of meditative contemplation. I entered the
competition hoping that it may lead to greater exposure for my paintings and it would seem that this has definitely been fulfilled.
anything about being an artist that you do not like?
artists can tell you, it's usually a financial struggle to be an artist. Although art
is so highly valued as a record of our history, ironically artists are traditionally
underpaid. This is because art is so hard to define in financial terms as basically
art has nothing to do with money.
But to look at
the problem as a whole, the reason most artists want to do what they do, is precisely
because art is not about money. However, the struggle to be able to find time and
energy to produce art, and put food in your mouth at the same time, is as old as art
Would you sell your most favourite artwork, or keep it?
I have always
sold my favourite works. This has been mostly a matter of necessity, to be able to pay
the rent. However, I also get tired of a painting by the time I have finished them.
It's like I know it inside out, and need to get rid of it, to make psychological space
for the next one to be created. Also, the reason I paint, is to share my vision with
others, so to keep the paintings for myself, would seem somehow selfish. I do want
them to go out into the world on their own and make a life for themselves. But years
later, if I get the chance to see it again, I can be amazed at what I did, and I can
see it with fresh eyes that are no longer fatigued from being immersed in the image.
How important was education and training to you?
began as a self taught artist, drawing from the age of 3, at 17 had a private tutor
(Alexander Brun) who opened up my vision and abilities to a huge extent. The most
important ingredient for an artist is passion or desire. But the second most important
ingredient is training and technique. This can be achieved alone with much study, and
a good teacher can speed up the process enormously. Nothing replaces practice and
anything in your art career that you would have changed?
I have only
recently learnt about the power of promotion and advertising. Traditionally artists
are very bad at selling and self promotion as they are too caught up in their art, and
I was no exception. However with the creation of my website a few years ago, and
the awareness of the importance of promotion, I am gradually getting the hang of it.
Although I did start painting seriously at 15, I would like to have had more intensive
training in old masters techniques from an earlier age. But one cannot look back in
life, there is only the present and future.
If you were
invited overseas to exhibit your works, where would you like that to be?
Italy, in a
very daring and probably foolish attempt, to have my works near to the masters of old.
But really anywhere where there is passion, and a love of art.
looking forward to entering the contest for next year?
For sure, I
will enter again. I am about to start work on a lot of new paintings, and hopefully
within 6 months, I will have many more works to choose from.
recommend use of the Internet for an artist's publicity?
has been wonderful for me, and I recommend it highly to all artists. My website has
been the most versatile portfolio imaginable which I can take with me anywhere in the
world, and I have managed to sell paintings around the world through it. The more
people you reach, the more chances you have of finding someone who will fall in love
with something you have done. It's a matter of numbers, and on the internet, the
numbers are high. The key to good website exposure is not in the creation of the
website, but the promotion of the website. And this is the harder task of the two.
Anyone can make a web page today. But to make one that will be found by the people you
want is much harder.
change anything about how the contest is organised?
No I didn't
have any problems with any part of it. Perhaps more categories like drawing or post
modernism for example. Perhaps the option to see larger images of each work.
How can the Internet be made better for working artists?
Higher resolution browsers and monitors. :)