My first solo show with Artbay Gallery is the culmination of my fascination with light art celebrated in this special six week exhibition in Queenstown.
This exhibition combines the idea of Pop art and Op (or Optical) art. These are separate art movements or disciplines, aspects of which are both present in my work, but not defining. The name also refers to the way my art ‘pops’ from visual interplay of 2D design and 3D form.
Who or what inspires your artwork?
People from all walks of life who have forged their own brand, style or philosophy by doggedly following a belief in themselves. I’ve read quite a few biographies and love watching biopics because I’m fascinated by what drives people. Invariably success, innovation and interesting things emerge from people with passion, purpose and a good work ethic, plus sometimes a bit of luck and good timing thrown in.
I’m inspired by visual artists who, like myself, have successfully migrated from graphic design or commercial art into the world of fine art. The likes of Andy Warhol, or closer to home Billy Apple, Gordon Walters and Dick Frizzell. Commercial design and fine art are distinctly different worlds, but as pure disciplines they are less distinguishable. I enjoy muddying the waters by bringing digital based designs and cutting edge technologies into the realm of fine art.
My audiences massively inspire me. Creating things that bring joy to people is intoxicating. It’s probably the biggest driver of all.
Tell us about the creative process?
My entire body of work, which includes paintings, weavings, prints, digital art and light works, stems from a single idea I had in 2017. The seed to this idea was a curiosity with geometric 2D design and 3D form, and then combining them in a single composition where there is an interplay between both dimensions. The initial expressions of this concept were fascinating and ever since then I’ve been exploring and iterating; finding different and more intriguing ways to manifest the same underlying concept. It really is a process of playful exploration and following my nose.
Tell us about the technical aspect, how did you discover the medium and how has this evolved?
My desire to explore light as a medium was a natural progression from earlier digital works and paintings. The idea of ‘contrast’ is an important feature in my work. The mesmerising effect of black & white lines in close proximity creates a real rhythm and energy, a vibrational quality. I was pondering “how do I push this even more. Is there anything that contrasts more than black and white?” Then it occurred to me, ‘black & light’. Black (sleep) and light (awake) is the rhythm of our lives.Visually it’s the most extreme contrasting effect you can achieve within a piece of art. Why do they dim the lights in a cinema? You’re sitting in blackness looking at a glowing screen. The effect ramps up the intensity. This is what I’ve done with my light art and it’s been amazing to see people captivated by these works.
What do you think it is about your work that immediately captures the hearts of collectors?
I’ve participated in a number of art fairs in New Zealand and overseas and I also have my own gallery so I’m talking to collectors all the time. It’s wonderful to witness people fully engaged and so utterly fascinated with my work. There is an immediate wow factor but also a lot going on conceptually, technically and optically. There is a process of understanding what you are actually seeing. Experiencing art that is immediately captivating and impactful yet multi-layered and technical is probably what wins them over.
Can you tell us about your success as an artist and your biggest career highlight to date?
I’ve already had some amazing opportunities and successes in my short time as an artist. It’s been astonishing and very humbling. Winning an international art award in the UK in 2018 kicked things off professionally, we travelled to Manchester to see my work exhibited in a gallery for the very first time. In 2020 my art was broadcast around the UAE for an entire week on a network of giant screens. In June some pieces will be appearing in a prime-time BBC/Netflix drama series, hand picked by the director after a location recce to a private home in Cheshire, where my art happened to be hanging. Being a founding exhibitor in the Lightworx galleries in Queenstown and Auckland has been a fantastic exposure opportunity. Of course launching my own gallery has been very special.
What can we expect to see in this upcoming exhibition?
POPTIC is the culmination of my fascination with light art in recent years which incorporates elements of my broader practice, including digital art and weavings, to create radiant evolutions of existing compositions through to light-specific innovations that explore all new territories.
Included in this exhibition are some recent innovations including my face-blending works where I inter-weave or overlay two different faces together. This concept emerged when I observed how different light hues pass though and interact with translucent ink and coloured plastics. I realised there was an opportunity for light to effectively bring pieces to life by ‘animating’ the imagery. The transitioning light hues reveal the individual faces and as well as various hybrid combinations. I guarantee you will have never seen anything like this before.