Curious what you’ve been reading lately, any critical or historical texts that are relevant to your work.
The first recipient of the new year is Belfast based artist Kelly Ewing, whose paintings navigate themes of abjection
and the monstrous feminine. Through a practice which incorporates painting as a performative act , Ewing investigates the archetype of the ‘monstrous woman’ or ‘femme castratrice’.
The spray paint on the floor is kind of interesting, would you call these paintings site specific ?
Cool question, one that I don’t really get asked too often… On one hand, I
would say I do consider them to be site specific as the paintings are (in my
mind) a product of their immediate environment. I like to continue accidental
marks I find on the studio walls or floors onto the surface of the work, allowing
them to sort of become a by-product of this accidental and purposeful mark
making from previous work. Sometimes I enjoy deliberately continuing pools
of colour from the beds onto the ground too, which is completely individual to
the environment I make the work in. However, I’m not against creating these
same marks when installing work in gallery spaces- I don’t do this too often
though cos it does feel forced and inauthentic in certain spaces, I think it
depends on the actual work itself and the energy I feel from it and whether it
needs to be situated this obviously.
I Haven’t heard to much about the Belfast art scene, is anyone else working there who you think people should check out? Could be one of your peers or someone more established.
The art scene here in Belfast is dynamic and exciting, there’s a really big
emphasis on sculpture and performance, and some really cool contemporary
painters. I’ll be cheeky and give you two recommendations: the first one is an
established painter & a lecturer on my BA; Chris Hanlon. Find his work on
www.christopherhanlonartist.com and on instagram at @chrishanlonpainting
His paintings are cinematic and atmospheric. Secondly, I’ll recommend you
check out my peer and fellow recent graduate Phil Keers. His practice is
based around sculpture installation and performance dealing with gender,
sexuality and language, he’s on instagram at @philkeers and
Inside,2018.Spray,paint,household emulsion,acrylic paint, oil pastel charcoal,sequin attached letters and attached fur.-151cm-x-182cm.jpg
Curious if there are any older artists from the UK or Ireland who you think are kind of underrated? Like someone whose work you appreciate but who doesn’t come up much. Or the same question for rest of the world. Just someone you’d think is deserving of a critical renascence.
He isn’t an ‘older artist’ in the sense I would usually think of, but I am really
excited by John Walters work. I first discovered him when his exhibition
‘Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness’ opened in The MAC in Belfast in
2018, at the beginning of my final year. It was the first time I could see the
kind of work I felt I properly understood and related to in my own country, as
usually big touring shows here can be quite conservative and * dry *. So yeah,
I’m a huge fan of John Walters and I feel like we are only really at the tip of
the iceberg! I don’t think he comes up in discourse an awful lot even though
his work is so important and controversial. His show ‘Alien Sex Club’ in the
Wellcome Collection in London was MAD. I’m excited!!!
What have you been reading lately?
I am always into anything regarding the monstrous feminine and the abject! I
enjoy Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex although it can be a bit
problematic. Recently I’m re-reading Julia Kristeva’s ‘Powers of Horror’ and
for fun I’m re-reading William Blattys ‘The Exorcist’.
How about something dumb that you’ve been into lately, like an action movie or something, could you tell us about some guilty pleasure?
LOL, I’ve always been really into conspiracy theories and true crime podcasts
so I’ve seen and watched most of the worthwhile ones (in my humble opinion)
so at the minute I’m listening to a true crime/conspiracy theory/generally weird
things podcast on Spotify called ‘Those Conspiracy Guys’, basically an irish
guy and guests talking about some spooky things. Five stars!
Last question, Van Morrison or Gary Moore?
GARY MOORE cos Thin Lizzy.
interviewed by Benjamin Duax, Feb 6th, 2019.
Our Artist for December 2018, is Bex Massey, Based out of London and working in the uneasy space where paintings negotiate their status within a larger immersive work, Bex described her work as reflecting the especially disposable nature of British pop culture. verisimilitude brushes against neon over saturation and advertising language to create something unnerving. A large portion of the paintings on her website are installed either on the edges of tables, or balancing on balls, see-saws, etc. Like pies on windowsills, their is a liminal quality, where the viewer seems to have arrived just in time.
This treatment occasionally produces delightful spring-loaded juxtapositions, A close cropped realistic portrait of Owen Wilson balances on a see-saw mirror surrounded by plastic palm trees, aside from its excursion into the expanded field, the only jarring element of the painting itself is Wilson’s eyes, dilated to extreme blackness like the x-files bee dome monster. I was completely befuddled by a painting of Nelson Mandela from the same year, installed in a similar way,painted in a lighter wash.
‘Soft Brexit’ 2018, oil and enamel on canvas with inflatable banana.
105.5cm x 84cm x 18cm
There is an element of installation in this work, or sculptural presentation, do you feel like the paintings change dramatically in different contexts? is there some tension here?
I do think it changes in different contexts and this is why I like to alter and distort the manner
of display. I also enjoy balancing stretchers on inflatables, stacking them on top of each
other and suspending them from the ceiling as painting comes with a huge amount of history
of art regarding how we should view it in terms of value, curation and subject matter.
Sometimes its good not to fall in line.
Images sourced from pop culture/advertising, the lucky charms leprechaun or the turkey packaging, could you tell us a bit about sourcing these images?
I appropriate imagery from my childhood. This 80s 90s overlap is accessible to all and
doesn’t take itself very seriously. In an era where we are desensitized to peoples suffering
due to a stratospheric over use of imagery thrown at us via the Media-looking at dated
recognisable packaging and nostalgic prints brings a certain safety to it.
(From Bex’s solo show “ÀHHÁÀHHÁ-” at Slugtown, Newcastle. photo Matt Wilkinson)
Would you call these optimistic paintings?
Maybe optimistic in the manner in which I choose playful imagery to discuss difficult topics.
Maybe more tongue in cheek?
(From Bex’s solo show “ÀHHÁÀHHÁ-” at Slugtown, Newcastle. photo Matt Wilkinson, Described as a single immersive painting)
Favourite Beatles song? another question to ground the prize in the UK.
Best Greggs Item? curious if you got the vegan sausage roll, I’ve seen a few online think pieces about vegan items in fast food and what they ~mean~
Sausage Roll.!! I have taken up the vegan/traditional taste trial and happy to report that the
vegan option weighs in real strong.
Interview by Ben Duax, 14/1/2019
We are pleased to announce the inaugural recipient of the Butterbiggens Prize in British Painting.
Jae Jo, coming from Korea by way of the Royal College of Art, creates new constellations of meaning from the detritus of the city. Sensual yet understated paintings which straddle the line between painting and installation. Please see images of thier work below, as well as a short interview.
How has your painting changed since coming to the UK?
The painting has a tendency to redrawn from its own generative questions so I see practice has to be the exploration of this edge between it being something and yet being part of a risk of disappearing outside of the elected boundary through which it is named. Based on my notion forwards painting, I have started to do wall-painting and created sculpted landscapes. The wall painting as painting degrades to the background while there are an object and performance with a musical instrument and during the process, it remains painting. The performance is a catalyst between painting and sculpture.
These days, However, I express my sensual order by randomly extracting debris of the cityscape, so to say, the leftover fragments of the greater system. I particularly collects vibrant colors from products and outlines from images to recompose them into drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, sound, and installation. Installation works that combine painting and sculpture. Each work articulates a spontaneous movement of an image forming into one lump. As a collection, the unit of time given to each work by myself in accordance with the gallery space as well as the elements of the image continuously gather and disperse. The result is an unexpected scenery of sensation.
Are there any emerging UK painters whose work your really
I had studied painting with Josefina Nelimarkka from Helsinki at Royal College of Art and she is currently in SPACE Art + Technology artist in residence, London. Her exploring the invisible world of air and future climates using materials such as fabrics and glass inspired me a lot. Especially, her work let me think what the painting is.
What about other emerging UK artists?
Olivia Bax, sculptor. I saw his work at FOLD Gallery early this year and I love his magnificent sculpture.
Anyone from your school who you think people should be excited about?
Bianca Barandun has graduated printmaking last year and we met in the same art residency at Unit1 Gallery over a month ago. She makes her own paper to draw and paint. I was so shocked when I first saw this method and of course the outcomes are brilliant.
Any established UK artists that you think are underrated?
A few years ago, I thought Anthea Hamilton was but now… haha
What about an artist from outside the UK that you find exciting?
Erkka Nissinen from Finland. I had a chance to see his works at one of the museum in Helsinki and Blain Southern gallery in London. I really enjoyed his ridiculous animation, weird sculptures and small drawing. His work may not look great at all but super charming stunning and very unique.
Favourite Beatles song?
Of course, Yellow Submarine. Even there is the same title in my work.