I am so exited to announce my latest feature with KATE DUNN @bellissi.mama
I have loved Dunn’s work for so long, one of Dunn’s work sits in pride of place in my collection.
Dunn is currently exhibiting with @tjboulting - the final date to visit is the 3rd July! So make sure you visit soon!
‘The show is inspired by collective effervescence, bioluminescence, pharmakon, defined as the poison, remedy or scapegoat and gabber music from the 90s.
There is something about these scenes in which people dance all night to music that is so hardcore most of us wouldn't last an hour, their bodies exerting themselves in attempt to keep up with the 200 bpm, when the human heart should only reach 180. They are there to become a collective body, and it is this cataclysmic experience that I find so inspiring.’
How would you describe your work for someone who has never seen it?
I make installations and experiences based around painting; my work uses themes such as renaissance, rave, light and sacred space. The paintings usually appear in the structure of an altarpiece panel, using materials such as UV reactive pigment, acrylic paint, spray paint and oil paint
What inspires you to make art?
I'm going to talk about the solo show THE TABERNACLE opening in June at TJ Boulting. This show is about the party shaped hole that appeared in me during lockdown and my attempts to repair it. This may sound superficial to some, but there are specific emotional needs that are met through collective experiences like raving, protests and meetings of worship.
The show is inspired by collective effervescence, bioluminescence, pharmakon, defined as the poison, remedy or scapegoat and gabber music from the 90s. There is something about these scenes in which people dance all night to music that is so hardcore most of us wouldn't last an hour, their bodies exerting themselves in attempt to keep up with the 200 bpm, when the human heart should only reach 180. They are there to become a collective body, and it is this cataclysmic experience that I find so inspiring.
What is the role of religion and spirituality in your work?
I've been thinking about this more and more since taking a break from oil paint. Before, the historical weight of the medium felt it guided the narrative toward a conversation around history painting. But now I feel that what I really want is to activate people's experience with painting, to think about what sacred spaces give those of us who aren't necessarily religious. To use references that pull from all corners of my interests, high and lowbrow, and create a kind of space in which the object of worship is the experience itself.
Why are you drawn to working with paint?
For a year now I've stopped using oils and begun with UV pigments, acrylic and spray paint. The UV pigment is like a living organism; it both reflects and charges from UV light, meaning that in darkness it becomes its own light source. I think most painters are obsessed by light and I've been hypnotized by a medium that creates it. It's painting as performance: the colours and brightness repeatedly changing in front of your eyes.
Could you tell us about your art education?
I did my foundation at CSM, then went to Florence for four years to study 19th century drawing and painting, then did my masters at City & Guilds of London Art School, where I'm now a tutor. You don't realise how impacted you are by an environment until you leave, and although I never studied the Renaissance, I was surrounded by it for some incredibly formative years. I wouldn't make the work I do now if it wasn't for Florence or the mind blowing 12 months on my masters at C&G.
Which artists have had the biggest impact on your work?
Fra Angelico and Botticelli are some of my favs from the Renaissance, particularly the frescoes by Fra Angelico in San Marco in Florence. I only visited in my last year there, but it had a profound effect. It is not just the frescoes themselves but also that you have to enter each monk's cell to see the paintings; this act too becomes the work.
How has your work developed and changed over time?
During lockdown I was speaking to a fellow painter (Tom Polo, hey Tom!) about a concept I'd been considering: exhibition as medium. Essentially it discusses how everything is active during a show, whether the wall is white or red, the floor grey or green, the sound silent or loud; it is the whole that is the actuality of the work. I've been directly pursuing this through multi-sensory installations: employing friends to make music, using several stages of light, hanging drapery and material. I'm expanding my language to push for a specific experiential environment, not just to make paintings.
Where would you most like to see your work exhibited?
I'm very drawn to theatricality and monumentality. I'd love to make a stage set one day or be given a stupidly big empty building to explode in.
What do you like and dislike about the art world?
This is a hard question as I'm not just coming at it from the perspective of an artist, but also a tutor, and art school is like the embryonic stage of 'the art world'. If I were to separate the two, I'd say that cities like London need to do more to help artists. I'd also say that social media has engrained in artists that they need to be pumping out works at a preposterous rate which in turn invalidates the purpose of studio process.
What do I like? It feels like things are changing: people are putting on their own shows, opening their own spaces and some galleries seem more open to conversation.
Who are your favourite contemporary artists?
Robert Cooper @robertcooooper who I've got a two-person show with in June at The Tub! Austin Lee @austinleee, Tschabalala Self @tschabalalaself, Sahara Longe @saharalonge, Flora Yukhnovich @flora_yuknovich, Florence Sweeney @florencesweeney, Adam Baker @adambakerart, Mimi Hope @simichiamano, and Sam Keelen @sam_keelen
Which song should be added to the She Curates playlist?
WET by COBRAH