Interview by Pascale de Graaf
Published in October 2022
Most of your paintings are hard to see, they are covered in a sort of haze or mist. What is that for you?
It comes from my interest in things that are operating from underneath the surface. For example subtle power dynamics, violences and histories that are embedded deep in the system but are not fully perceived. The layering acts for me as a device of channeling those dynamics as an echo. As a quiet grip of a shared tension.
Exhibition view, Zabludowicz Collection Invites, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Zabludowicz Collection
Finding form within the haze, are you searching for truth, or an essence?
I am aiming to get closer to the micro elements that feed the whole system. So there is an interest in finding an essence. More practically, I wish to create a sense of movement in the work, the painting can unfold slowly, recede or approach the viewer.
And surprise you as well?
Yes, painting can surprise as elements that have not been planned or calculated can appear in the work.
Rapid Shifts, 2018, oil on canvas, 190 x 160 cm
When you start painting, do you have an intention for the piece or a sketch or a plan? What is your process?
There is an intention, it could be just to bring out a certain tension, or a dynamic that I had observed. Usually I have a rough sketch, and then start.
Can you tell me more about your use of neon chalk on oil paint, in the way the material comes out in the ground of the painting?
Recently I have been looking into the topic of collapse and transformation. Perhaps the neon highlights a sense of electricity or something acidic that the figures are dispelling. The figures are leaking auras and organic forms spilling into the ground of the canvas.
Release, 2022, oil on canvas, 150 X 150 cm
Is that on a personal level, or in a more systematic way?
I think it's both. through my personal experiences I am also reflecting the larger structures of things.
These bodies which are anonymous, how would you describe the people?
The bodies are not representational, they are more like vessels which I channel energies through.
They can pull you deep under the water, 2020, oil on canvas, 120 x 160 cm
I wonder if it's touching upon ghosts as well?
It touches upon the soul's connection to the body. In fainting, near death experience or ecstasy there is a sense of losing the body. “The ‘fall’ seen as the negative and tactical response to an emergency”. I am touching on the possibility of the figures moving towards less physical spheres.
And in terms of your body at this point in time, do you crave to be more grounded, or to leave your body more?
I give attention to staying grounded but I am also interested in more intuitive or even psychic spaces.
And the fact that we're capable of that, but just can't access that day to day. The paintings look like portraits of auras, almost like the body is in the background, and everything energetic that's going on is pushed to the foreground. Is that happening?
It could be. I think it's quite a nice observation or a way to think about them. The paintings could be seen as a psychic map of what is held within the body.
The fire on the bodies in your painting reminds me of the Phoenix, which, as you have said before, renews itself. Fire becomes a birthing as well, not just an ending.
Yes it is a birthing, as when things seem to fall apart they can be falling into place. I am also interested in what comes next, after this birthing and in creating a world in which one does not know its rules.
It is un-navigable, as most of the time you don’t depict ground?
I wish for them to have a ground or a pull, a place to return to. Still they are rather terrestrial.
Tal Regev is a painter based in London.
Pascale de Graaf is an artist-curator based in London.
If you like this why not read our interview with Farwa Moledina.
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