N James – Interviews- Artists
Focused on process. Started with simple and natural, pared down, making beautiful paintings. He didn’t find a way of marrying with his wider interest in natural history until later.
Each part of the painting is a reaction to what went before, mentally carrying on from a previous work. The painting language expands in an intuitive way. He felt his other interests were not worthy of art. When it happened it brought a spark to open doors to everything else. Something is learnt from each work and carried forward.
he starts with the groundwash, then foreground detail, then distance and finally the space. As it progresses more engaged with the relationship of the elements. A decision to break the rules is part of t he process, an internal narrative.
Elements, smoke, positives/negatives, animal images, skulls, represent many things. Music plays whilst working. initially influenced by heavy metal album covers.
He is interested in belief and how that is manifested. Mandala, symmetry and symbolism are his graphical language. Circularity and scale (2×2.5m) help.
This is an interview conducted with James Aldridge by Looking Sideways on 5 August 2013. Of particular interest is the painting Cold Mouth Prayer, commissioned specifically for the space by the Tate http://wearelookingsideways.com/artists/james-aldridge
Painstaking large format woodcuts
Gerhardt Richter was an influence.
The dynamics of speed/standstill in view and production. She takes an image from a video shot in travel and creates a woodcut. The foreground is faster than the background. The line, speed, grid allows for black/white. Irony of analogue image from digital info.
The theme is usually the same the medium could be silkscreen, etching, lithography, drawing.
Series size determined before work starts. Process can take a year.
She had a crisis of relevance, after ‘Lines of Flight’, (which she saw as prescient), during the 3 years she worked on the Territory series. She considered stopping. She questioned the notion of You. You construct a You through your work. Are you anything if you extract that? Erase what you were, see if still there. (How true!)
Decided on a different strategy, lots of hesitation, small moves back and forth, rejections. A private struggle. Isolated in her domestic studio, she used to walk to think. She missed the artistic discourse.
She stores her work outside of her studio. Slow to produce work.
Territory works are untitled, you need to look for clues for the subject. The landscapes are dream like.
She describes her London base as an extraordinary conglomeration of incoherent spaces. There are no images of London in her work, it doesnt feel like home to her.
Territory focuses on the material that gets overlooked whilst we are looking for a subject. The damage we would rather not acknowledge, mining, scars on the earth’s surface.
She underwent profound changes during Territory, her intuitions were too literal, too romantic, too sharply focused. She was conscious of bringing Romantism into the 21 Century.
All the detail is in the bottom third, then you are swept away, disorientating, like vertigo. If you strip away everything, the sensation of what is left could be vertiginous. Loss of self/patch of land, very much part of the landscape. Reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich, no firm foothold, disappearing down a ravine. Romantism was a reaction to Victorian loss of atmosphere (smog), to counter this they took trips over the Alps, but kept the blinds down so as not to see the savagery of the landscape.
Territory is the possibility of new ways of engaging with the landscape. Photography sees no difference between fetid and snowy.
She is not disconnected with past work. She was called an abstract artist. She says she was never an abstract artist, but always engaged with the how of representation. ‘Abstract’ is a defence against the reality of the work. It is necessary to inject some disquiet.
Her recent struggle and her comment about disquiet really resonnate with me.