Joseph’s work is mind blowing. Her recent paintings present and explore a kind of dream-like reality, in contrast to previous works in naturalistic ad rural outdoor settings. Her work is now more surrealist, exploring these imagined worlds, an exploration of transformation, rebirth, death and womanhood.
Her process begins with a lot of thought. Becoming a figurative drawing, noting of thoughts and initial ideas that come to mind, and then the colour, which she mixed directly onto the canvas itself with strong pigments.
While employing fantastical elements in her paintings, and lurid and striking colours, there is a definite tenderness to Josephs’s works, lending themselves to thoughts of internal conflicts, duality inside us and shared realities. I find her work very emotive. It resonates deeply with me.
In our interview, we talked uses of colour, inspirations, her recent exhibition at the @jackbarrettgallery , and earliest memories.
What 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
This is a strange thing to think about for me it is quite difficult to answer. The reason is that I don't think in words, they seem too constrictive a label to place on anything, which is why my language is of images, why I communicate through painting. One important word could be: truth. Another: dream.
What was your earliest memory surrounding art?
My cousin and I would sit together and draw for hours and hours most every day. My aunt set out a large stack of scrap paper and a basket filled with miscellaneous crayons of all sorts of colors. I remember my cousin and I used to try and discover the best combinations of colors imaginable. One time I watched in awe as she combined neon oranges atop brilliant yellows and hot pinks, it must have been the colors of a sunset. I felt in awe and like watching those colors come into reality was a sort of transformational or psychedelic experience. I remember how my body felt when I witnessed her create it. This is a feel I search for throughout my life as an artist.
Tell us about your process? How does each work come to fruition? Do you plan? Or are your paintings fluid in creation?
An imagine will come to mind and I will sit with it there in my head for some time. I begin with that vision and move forward by planning out the figure first straight onto the canvas. The only preparatory sketches I make will be simply to note anything that comes to mind initially or gestures of movement I feel I need to grasp off the bat. It’s important I always paint the figures first as they set the tone for the entirety of the picture. The color is mixed onto the canvas itself, and layered over and over, subtracted, and layered once more. For better or worse, it is all simply intuitive.
Tell us about your recent show and celebration of your work at the Jack Barrett Gallery in New York? What was the meaning and story behind your work in this show?
This work was very near and dear to my heart as it was a sort of celebration or honoring of the short life of my late sister, who died as a young child. A lot of the work depicted young children as not just a tribute to her but of honoring the idea of youthfulness and its fleetingness - as well as reflections on afterlife. The idea of the continuity of spirit through life, death and rebirth. Most of the work done for this show were large colored pencil drawings - the first time ever I've shown such work. Those drawings were important for me to make because I had to exercise a great deal of patience in the time it took to complete them so there was just a lot of my energy, an intense sort of concentration that they asked for.
You currently live and work in Brooklyn. Do you feel being in Brooklyn has influenced you, and if so, how?
I think it's helped to remind me how important nature is to me. I live near Prospect Park and I go there just about every day it's not raining, or sometimes still when it is.
What is your studio like in Brooklyn? What are your ideal conditions to work in?
For the past year I had my studio in my apartment. That was amazing to be able to wake up and get to work and to assess the paintings again before bed. But I recently moved into a new studio in a different neighbourhood and so far I am really enjoying it. It has more space and it’s good to reflect on things as I make my commute to and from there.
Haley, who or what do you find inspiration in? How do you find these come out in your work?
I am most of all trying to capture the feeling I have when staring at the sky, at the setting sun, or of clouds. I find inspiration in humans' faults and the depths of gold inside each person who has the ability to possess darkness and lightness. I see each person as a brilliant flame, burning together, children of the sun. I want to bare witness to nature and humans alike, their inward and outward parts. I don't know how this comes through in my work, all I'm doing is moving colors around, but there is something inside me that feels the urge to do it, that there is a message there waiting to be revealed, I say it is like chasing the end of a rainbow.
Your use of colour is so exciting. Tell me about your process with colour? What is your palette like, what do you want to say with colour and how do you work with it?
I said earlier that I mix the paint straight on to the canvas. I use really pure pigments, really searching for the heart of the color. They are layered over and over. I think about color as a living thing, and we are the final experience of its existence.
If you could own one piece of artwork in the world, as if money or likelihood was no issue, what would it be and why?
Isabetta by Alice Neel. This painting is a symbol of power and truth for me.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm beginning to work on some larger pieces since I haven't had the space until now.
And what would be your dream project?
My dream project would be to make really huge paintings and hang them all over the city and in nature. To just look at a big painting propped up against a tree or floating out to sea.
Favourite historical female artist?
Alice Neel, Hilma af Kilnt
Favourite current practising female artist?
Judy Chicago, Janiva Ellis, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Lisa Yuskavage, and all my friends !
Who should She Curates interview next?
Patricia Renee' Thomas
Is there anything else you wanted to say ?
Thanks for being into paintings!