We picked five artists from ‘75 Works on Paper’BEERS Gallery, London and asked them five questions about their work on view.

 

“75 Works on Paper” at BEERS, London combines the works of over 50 artists working internationally, including both emerging and mid-career artists who were each asked to contribute as few as one A4 work on paper.

 

What one sees viewing the art is the diverse themes and imagery of the pieces, which include figurative, abstract, or text-based work, but also includes collage, preliminary sketches, and even sculptural or conceptual art.

 

Could you explain this work?

I picked up this love for old grain and flour sacks with advertising from smaller American towns. I had the idea to sew these sacks in with my large canvas paintings in order to attempt to give worth to a bag or sack that once held something of worth, like flour, rice or whatever it may be. I fell in love with this particular bag, bought it on eBay, but didn’t realise that it was a paper bag. I didn’t really know what to do with  it, so it just sat around my studio to pick up some debris, then luckily I was invited to do a “works on paper” show and got to put the bag to use, finally.

What does this piece deal with? 

For me this piece deals with age and a story beyond me. I don’t know when this bag was made, I don’t know what Princeton, North Carolina is like either. So, I see it as two or more stories coming together. I love found objects, repurposing objects and I love the ageing process all the same.

What medium and techniques did you use?

Oil, stick and acrylic for the main colours, and then enamel for the mark making.

What were the struggles of making it?

This is the smallest work that I’ve ever made. I use a lot of large gestural movements in my work, so I had to restrict those movements onto a very small piece of paper. Sounds odd, but having to condense is very hard for me, so I tried to not overthink it.

What is the purpose behind this work?

I wanted to use but hide some of the advertising on the bag and give it some more appeal. Honestly, I just wanted to make something badass for my first gig in the UK.

Could you explain this work?

This pencil drawing is a snap shot of an intimate exchange between two un-worldly beings. What we, as earthlings, can identify with is the freeze frame of when the clock stops ticking for that half second, and an electric pulse jumps from the tip of one sentient being to another. The tender moment. It’s easy to forget, as a human, that contact – that shimmering, glossy, silent spark is universal.

What does this piece deal with? 

I often think about the accelerated loss of our natural habitat, and revisit crazy ideas from 70’s sci-fi of living on the moon once this planet is burnt out. I sometimes think about the fable of “the dark side of the moon” and play with fantasies of how maybe it could harbour secret plant types and seas like George Melies’ flick. My Uncle is a physicist who works at the Hadron Collider splitting atoms, and looks for Higgs Boson, and my Dad is an ecologist – so one looking away from us, and into the stars for answers, and one looking beneath the soil. Whilst I’m very interested in both these equally important subjects, I’m more like my mother. A social creature, looking into peoples eyes for that tender connection.

What medium and techniques did you use?

A couple of pencils, a rubber, and a bit of paper.

What were the struggles of making it?

The struggle is always working small for me – for composition, and also for the translation and application of mark making.

What is the purpose behind this work?

This was a preliminary sketch for an intended larger painting. But I felt I had captured something real in the drawing, and I’m actually very happy with it.

Could you explain this work?

This piece is an oil on paper study for an invented portrait of a nonplussed woman. Most of the characters I paint are composited from various art historical and autobiographical sources, and they are ultimately stand-ins for myself. I think of this compositing technique as a way of investigating my personal identity through the women who have been so commonly portrayed, but so vehemently denied real agency throughout Western art history. Smaller studies allow me to work through colour ideas quickly before going into larger, more involved works on canvas.

What does this piece deal with? 

I touched on content in my last answer, but to elaborate, I believe that looking for my body reflected in the bodies of women seen throughout the Western canon is an amazing tool for empathy. I’ve recently begun including domestic objects like plants, beer bottles, and cigarettes to situate these women in mildly fraught social situations. I think about Victorian parlor rooms and home kitchens, close domestic quarters where interactions between women have traditionally been steered or sequestered.

What medium and techniques did you use?

I start these drawings with graphite on gessoed paper, and then work with very thin, poured oil paint and oil stick. They’re rarely planned, and they offer an opportunity to work quickly through intuitive colour ideas. They also help me to articulate previously vague ideas around colour and light.

What were the struggles of making it?

These preparatory works are by nature very fluid, and very low pressure. That lack of expectation is what makes them read as fresh and unencumbered.

What is the purpose behind this work?

To make a lasting and beautiful record of fleeting, improvised ideas.

Could you explain this work?

I’m never interested in explaining an artwork, or providing guidance for how someone should view it, or the establishment of some form of justification for it’s existence. I’m always most interested in artwork that asks me more questions than it provides answers for.

What does this piece deal with? 

Everything

What medium and techniques did you use?

This work is comprised of acrylic, oil, charcoal, fabric, and stitching on paper. Elements of this painting were made separately, then torn or cut apart, sewn back together, and then painted again.

What were the struggles of making it?

To be honest, I don’t really feel struggle with my work. I’m often inclined to intentionally cause a serious problem in my work that has to somehow be resolved or sometimes left unresolved. The act of “fixing” a calamity is something that forces me to make decisions in a work that I cannot predict before beginning. I don’t work from sketches or preconceived ideas in paintings, and I generally view finished paintings of any size as sketches. I try to treat them as dismissively as I would a small piece of inexpensive paper.

What is the purpose behind this work?

All of my work comes from a very simple desire to entertain, surprise, or to confuse myself.

Could you explain this work?

This work is part of an ongoing series of paintings and drawings where I’m working quickly and intuitively to give an element of action and movement. I’m moving back and forth between abstraction and figuration in order to create works where the different elements are not related in any narrative sense.

What does this piece deal with? 

I’m interested in how you piece together the different components of a fragmented story to make sense of it. Like when you hear a person on the subway talk on the phone in a language you don’t know. Suddenly you might hear single words you do understand, a glimpse of figuration in the abstraction, and you immediately start to imagine what the conversation is about.

What medium and techniques did you use?

It’s oil, pastel and acrylic ink on paper.

What were the struggles of making it?

No struggles, except maybe in the process of selecting and discarding work.

What is the purpose behind this work?

This piece was made while I was planning a new series of paintings. My paintings are deeply rooted in drawing and they are executed in a very similar way as my drawings. Since I often work quickly and intuitively, I usually don’t work with sketches for paintings but I make drawings to figure things out.

20.11.17

Words by Martin Mayorga

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