Saturday 6 February 2021

Interview with Crystal Fischetti

Interview with Crystal Fischetti 

Crystal Fischetti: Hello Again!
Grove Square Galleries, London
11 February – 9 April 2021
Besides being an artist, Crystal Fischetti (b1984, London, UK) is also an empath, psychic and shaman. For her forthcoming solo exhibition Hello Again!, she is bringing all aspects of herself together, creating “a beautiful marriage”. The 36 works on display – this number was chosen because it was her age when creating them, and Fischetti believes deeply in the power of numerology – are vibrant and pulsating, each one representing a visual journey, but also a return to self. The use of unprimed canvases goes back to the artists of the New York School, to whom she is often compared in style, and their elements of play, as well as of mysticism, and her use of bedsheets uncovers what it means to be at home, representing physical intimacy, rest and repose, lucid dreaming, and also a connection to the astral realm and the unconscious. 

Fischetti, who is of mixed British, Italian and Colombian heritage, trained as a dancer before turning to visual art, and she still uses her whole body to paint – often incorporating hand- and footprints in her works – and she hopes, in the future, to create more performative, live-painting pieces. 
I spoke to Fischetti for Studio International via Zoom about her calling by Spirit to be of service, how the pandemic has influenced her work, and the simple process of creating alchemy out of the things you have around you.

Watch the full interview here

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Interview with Prabhakar Pachpute

Interview with Prabhakar Pachpute

The Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute (b1986, Sasti, Chandrapur) is known for his large-scale charcoal wall drawings and combined installations, taking his background of coal mining, the associated landscapes and characters as their subject matter. His surrealist motifs and abstracted language are continuing to develop, and, when not grounded because of Covid-19, his participation in various international biennials and summits has led to travel and research opportunities, feeding him with further characters and stories to weave into his ultimately political works. 

One of the six shortlisted international artists for the Artes Mundi 9 exhibition and prize, delayed from October 2020 and opening virtually on 15 March 2021, at the National Museum Cardiff, Pachpute talked me for to Studio International via Zoom from India.

Read the full interview here

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Interview with Nick Hornby

Interview with Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby (b1980, London) is known for making monochrome sculpture in marble or bronze, often combining art history with digital processes. For his first solo institutional exhibition, he has turned his gaze inward and made a new series of autobiographical sculptures. The gallery is filled with a large array of objects set on plinths, which include portrait busts, modernist abstractions and “mantelpiece dogs”. 

In conversation via Zoom, Hornby explains why this combination is not as strange as it might sound, before going on to elucidate his process and talk about what makes his new work so personal. 

Watch and read the full interview here

Friday 22 January 2021

Interview with Sara Barker

Interview with Sara Barker

Sara Barker: undo the knot
3​1 October 2020 – 30 January 2021

Sara Barker (b1980, Manchester, UK) uses a combination of materials – initially, rougher, cheaper ones, such as cardboard, and, later, more permanent metals such as steel, aluminium and brass, alongside glass and automotive paint – to create works that blur the boundaries between figuration and abstraction; sculpture, painting and drawing; and imagined and physical spaces. The tension in her pieces is felt viscerally by the viewer, who is drawn into a dialogue, already taking place between the works themselves. Heavily influenced by literature, poetry and language, Barker calls for human interaction with her creations.

Her exhibition undo the knot, on show at CAMPLE LINE, includes, for the first time, what Barker describes as “exploratory works” – her initial, rougher “sketches” – which are not yet fully resolved, leaving open questions. Part of her motivation to include these works was the change in her approach to her practice, brought about by the first lockdown, when she became incredibly aware of a sense of having too much, endless time, yet simultaneously of none of it being available. Working from home, instead of her studio, she sought to bring her full daily experience into her work – all of the mundane and profound moments of life. 
I spoke to Barker via Zoom about how lockdown altered her practice, the role of tension and fragmentation in her work, and how the building at CAMPLE LINE became a work in the exhibition in its own right.

Watch the interview here


Wednesday 13 January 2021

Interview with the Binnie Sisters


Interview with the Binnie Sisters

Christine and Jennifer Binnie first shot to fame in 1981, along with fellow artist Wilma Johnson, as the performance-art collective the Neo Naturists, for which they famously flashed in the British Museum, as well as in many London nightclubs. However, before the decade was out, the sisters had gone from hanging out with the likes of Grayson Perry (whom Jennifer was dating), Boy George and Marilyn, to, in Jennifer’s case, returning to live in the East Sussex countryside and becoming a mother and painter, and, in Christine’s, to working as a potter. Although never officially ceasing their Neo Naturist activities, the sisters have since focused much more on their individual practices. Coming together as the first guest curators of an exhibition drawn from the 5,000 works in the Towner Collection, however, has been an enjoyable experience for them both, bringing them back to their roots, and asking them to reflect on their own work and how to incorporate it into the show. 

Christine spoke to me by phone from her flat in London, while Jennifer preferred to email her answers.  

Read the full interview here

Thursday 7 January 2021

Interview with Jim Dine


Interview with Jim Dine

At the grand age of 85, Jim Dine (b1935, Cincinnati, Ohio) has a six-decade-long career under his belt, including nearly 300 solo shows. With a practice spanning painting, sculpture and poetry, he works uninterruptedly, and with as much dedication now as ever. His exhibition, A Day Longer, at Galerie Templon, Paris, showcases works made over the past three years, many finished during the first lockdown. It includes a new body of self-portraiture, alongside bronze sculptures, and his easily recognisable paintings into which he embeds tools and incorporates symbols from his personal iconography, such as hearts, skulls, veins and the comic character Pinocchio. The title of the exhibition, taken from one of his poems, is also the title of a newly published book of his poetry.


Read the full interview here

Sunday 27 December 2020

Toby Deveson: embracing the most sacred depths of souls


Toby Deveson: embracing the most sacred depths of souls 

Dance as the narration of a magical story; that recites on lips, illuminates imaginations and embraces the most sacred depths of souls. [Shah Asad Rizvi]


Before becoming a photographer, Toby Deveson wrote music. ‘Avant garde, atonal and arrhythmic’ is how he describes it. ‘Jarring and jolting.’ Even his use of alliterative adjectives – whether intentional or not – has a sense of the lyrical, and, born and largely brought up in Italy, he is certainly a passionate Romantic, in the true sense of the word (originating from a Romance country). Although his photographic journey began as one of documentary, his preferred genre these days is landscape: always black-and-white, always analogue, always full-frame negative. Deveson, in part, still approaches these images as if they were documentary, however: he seeks to capture not a story, per se – that, he says, would be too simple – rather the emotions of the place and the moment, that je ne sais quoi which will provoke a reaction and, he hopes, move the viewer to tears.

Deveson’s photographic compositions are infused with his talent for musical composition, and his approach, too, is similar. He speaks of finding the geometric pattern in the viewfinder, abstracted to the point where you almost don’t see what it is; you don’t see the textures or the shape, you just see the overall jigsaw. As Henri Cartier-Bresson said: ‘Thinking should be done before and after, not during photographing,’ and Deveson, likewise, describes building a foundation – a solid and stable structure with science, knowledge and experience – on which to then let his instinct loose to do something ‘nebulous and creative’, to dance as the narration of a magical story. 


Musician Brian Eno uses the metaphor of gardening for his compositional process: ‘The gardener takes his seeds and scatters them, knowing what he is planting but not quite what will grow where and when’. Deveson, similarly, admits to not necessarily knowing why he pours a certain chemical where and when he does, why the result is as it is, or why it looks good (or not!) – he simply learned what he needed to know through time and habit – he is largely self-taught – and follows his intuition.

But his compositional process is not a solo dance, it is a pas de deux with a quite extraordinary and demanding partner – Mother Nature. Nevertheless, Deveson takes the leading role – after all, as Ansel Adams made clear, ‘you don’t take a photograph, you make it’. ‘You’re having to let what’s in front of you into the camera, but also put yourself into the camera from behind,’ says Deveson, who sees the process as a two-way conversation – indeed, a dance, or the intimate – and often intricate – choreography of a relationship. ‘It’s exhilarating,’ he adds. ‘A relationship infused with wonder and awe, passion and fear. A relationship with an undercurrent of playfulness and power and a constant sense of potential danger.’ As in any union, it’s a case of holding one’s own shape, while respecting that of the other – meeting midway, caressing, moulding a little to each other’s form, becoming a ‘we’, but ultimately remaining two ‘I’s. Deveson speaks of the immense challenge of placing his style and emotions on to something as vast and imposing as Mother Nature: ‘To not be engulfed by her, and to not rely on her to provide you with a stunning image, but to work with her and create something unique from something so universal’. 

To this end, Deveson travels widely, frequently driving for hours at a time, a vague plan half hatched, his route being steered, nevertheless, by his wayward dance partner. He seeks to experience as much of her as he can, to celebrate her gifts, to rise to her challenges, to capture that elusive moment in their relationship when everything changes, when something is learned and can never again be unknown. As with most significant realisations, these often only come later, when he returns to his darkroom and exposes the fragments of a partially recollected dream, reliving them all the more vividly for their bright monochrome. The dream as a whole, however, can never be fully resuscitated, leaving Deveson – and, in turn, his viewer – with the narration of a magical story, weaving in the unique stance of the present, and that of the individual’s past. Cartier-Bresson coined his famous term ‘the decisive moment’ to describe the fact that ‘photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression’. Just as no two performances of a given dance will ever be identical, the event itself is necessarily ephemeral, but the image Deveson makes represents the essence thereof, recites on lips, illuminates imaginations and embraces the most sacred depths of souls. 


© Anna McNay, 2020

Image © Toby Deveson, 2020

See also Spanish and Italian translations on the Metralla Rosa site

Monday 21 December 2020

Interview with Katharina Grosse


Interview with Katharina Grosse

Katharina Grosse (b1961, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany) is known for her large-scale, often site-specific and in-situ paintings, which draw the viewer in, disrupting and redefining hierarchies and boundaries, and shifting perspectives. For Grosse, there is no distinction between painting, sculpture and architecture. As well as her smaller studio canvases, she paints on found materials, cast-metal sculptures and lengths of draped fabric, creating fully immersive installations.

Currently showing as part of the all-women group exhibition Push the Limits, at the Fondazione Merz in Turin, Italy, Grosse talks to Studio International by email about her views on time, energy and meaning.

Read the full interview here

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Interview with Trulee Hall at the Zabludowicz Collection


Interview with Trulee Hall 

Following her sold-out opera commission just before lockdown in March, the Los Angeles-based artist Trulee Hall (b1976, Atlanta) has returned to the Zabludowicz Collection in London to create her first solo institutional European show. Comprising works from the collection (acquired from her major LA show last year), elements from and a video of the opera, and a number of new pieces, the exhibition is fully immersive and promises to transport visitors to an alternate reality – “Trulee’s world” – where dichotomies are set up, only to be broken back down and questioned, and layers of meaning are offered, to be peeled back and explored at the viewer’s whim. 

Hall spoke to Studio International via Zoom, offering insight into her musical background, her use of symbols – and the meanings associated with her golden corn-on-the-cobs – and what she thinks of her work being described as “erotic grotesque”, and following in the psychosexual artistic legacy of such artists as Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley.

Read the full interview here

Monday 7 December 2020

Interview with Susie MacMurray at Pangolin London


Interview with Susie MacMurray 

Former classical musician Susie MacMurray (b1959) retrained as an artist during the era of the YBAs, but she is as far removed from their style of “one-liner” work as could be, focusing very much on the materiality and poetry of a piece, combining unconventional materials –  such as red velvet, feathers, wax and barbed wire – to create seductive yet misleading installations, which lure the viewers in, but then cause them to step away in surprise and ask questions. Vulnerability and resilience, danger and attraction, mystery and wonder, life and death – these are all present in MacMurray’s work, which, like a fairytale, centres on alchemy and transformation. 

With an exhibition at Pangolin London, including a site-specific installation – or “drawing in space” – and some new bronze works (MacMurray’s first time working with this material), made in the Pangolin foundry, the artist spoke to Studio International about her collaborative and repetitive way of working, her love of dualities, and her self-discovery as an artist later in life.

Read the full interview here