08 December 2010

Aidan Doherty


Can you briefly describe what you do?

For the last two years I have been making small, complex, abstract paintings, making these paintings takes me long periods of time as part of my way of making is changing things on the painting’s surface, the more I change and edit and remove the more possibilities I have for interesting forms to be discovered. Unsuccessful attempts at finishing the painting I did maybe 2 months earlier can be brought back up to the surface and reborn as a new and more complex forms, the very first layers of paint that I apply always end up getting painted over many times but always seem to find their way back to be part of the final arrangement on the surface of the painting, but by this point those early marks have become very vintage looking and old and there is a sense of history about them and that's what I like, I don’t like new fresh paint on the canvas, I like paint that has gone through a journey and become battered and bruised and tells a story. I graduated from Wimbledon School of Art in 2008 and ever since then I have been painting in my studio in Hackney Wick, I was lucky to get hold of such a cheap and large studio as one week after leaving Wimbledon Philip Allen my tutor (and now good friend) was moving out and called me up and asked me if I wanted it, so that was pretty handy. I do part time work as a night club doorman which I do enjoy, seeing two totally different worlds and being around two totally different environments can only be a good thing in my eyes, I usually just work Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights so I’m left with my week days free to make art.

What drives you to make work?

It’s all about that feeling you get when you finally finish a painting that you have been battling with for potentially up to a year, such a feeling of achievement and satisfaction is wonderful, but most of the time I feel frustrated and annoyed because it seems to take me longer and longer to be happy with the painting, I like making work that makes people feel happy and also intrigued as to how I made it. I am defiantly not driven to make art for money.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices? 

Ok so... I get up in the morning; go to the gym, come home and eat, then embark on the boring journey to Hackney Wick, I live in Kilburn by the way. So I get into my freezing studio and sit and stare at the attempts I made the day/weeks before to resolve the painting/paintings, I work on about 5 at once, but sometimes I will be working on a canvas for 3 months and will just get sick of it so won’t go back to working on it for anywhere between 2 - 20 weeks, I usually start by rubbing off the motif, form, patters, lines, whatever it may be..that I was painting the day/weeks before, I usually rub them back to the point where they can just be seen, I then look around the canvas to try and find something interesting that can be brought out and make in to a form that will hopefully start to relate to something else on the canvas, I try and put together relationships between things and try to get an interesting abstract scenario going, but its bloody hard because every attempt I make I know in the back of my mind it’s not going to work, but I do know that things will all fall into place at some point sooner or later and it’s the constant attempts that make the final thing unique, it defines my work as mine.  

How long have you been working in that way?

I  have been working like this ever since leaving Wimbledon, my work at art school was much looser and I could make a painting in a day sometimes, I’m not really sure why exactly I have gone from making a painting in a day to now spending up to a year on one, it’s a bit of a mystery. I suppose I have become more interested in creating deep and more complex surfaces rather than painting a representational kind of form that is only focused on what it shows rather than what it is and how it is made, how things are made are more important to me now, layers and surface texture, scarification, old worn down attempts...that kind of thing.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

When I discovered the work of Thomas Nozkowski I felt very happy and confident to pursue making small abstract paintings, I love his work. Phil Allen was a big influence on my work, I love Miro's work and his beautiful floating strange abstract forms, Tomma Abts, Matisse, Duchamp’s paintings.  I mainly look at younger artist’s more relevant to what's happening right now in the world of abstract painting, Gabriel Hartley, Sam Windett, Mali Morris, Ben Pritchard, Jost Munster, James Ryan amongst others.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Well I do lots of stuff, I’m very odd in terms of what I’m into and its relevance to being an artist, well that’s what some people say anyway, I have a strong sporty rugby background, I am a bouncer, I am also a body builder, I also do Jujitsu and MMA, I love hunting and fishing, I love going clubbing, walking up mountains, I like anything and all sorts I’m a bit of a freak really, I personally don’t think that all the above influenced my work but maybe it does subconsciously, I do look at a lot of images online and in magazines of retro design, vintage worn book covers, general geometric design, anything that I think could be used to create an interesting thing on the canvas, what that 'thing' is I just don’t know.

 How would you like people to engage with your work?

I get a lot of people asking 'What is it?' 'What does it represent?' I don’t have concepts behind my work, the things that appear on the final painting may look very calculated and deliberate sometimes but are in actual fact the complete opposite, they are accidents and documentation of the journey I have been through, yes sometimes they look like things that could be in the real world but I never deliberately think before or during a painting that I want something to be representational of something real, I want people to question what's going on, I quite like it when people say they love the paintings but they are confused by them, people always say they see things in the work for example - ''it looks like two ducks kissing'' or ''it looks like a stalk carrying a baby'' I really like these kind of comments. There are no boundaries in my work so they should be no boundaries as to what the painting could be about, it’s all down to the viewer, I would like the viewer to appreciate the process I have been through, and look close at the canvas and see the many layers and forms hiding underneath, I just want people to appreciate the invention and the process of painting itself, there is nothing wrong with not having an idea, the idea I suppose is all about the struggles one goes through to complete a painting.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

I went to the Wilhelm Sasnal talk at the Tate Modern a week or so ago, that was inspiring, he's a wonderful painter that uses paint in a very sexy way, he just makes me want to paint and gets you excited about painting.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

I don’t have anything major coming up, I was in a show a week ago that Matthew Collings and Dan Hayes put together, I got to have a chat with Matthew about my work which was nice. The next thing for me is to do my MA, I really want to study at the Royal College, but it’s bloody hard to get into, I got on to the reserve list this year, so hopefully next year they may let me in. I just want to focus on developing the work, maybe upping the scale a little bit, I have also just made two new works that seem to float between sculpture and painting, I’m not sure yet if they are successful or not but we will see.

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