02 February 2011

Emma Biggs & Matthew Collings

Can you briefly describe what you do?

Paint abstract paintings that have a lot of content to do with the following - how things in the world actually look; colour relationships; the way light works, and the fact that colour is light; finding convincing visual metaphors in an improvised abstract language for the way perception of tone affects form, as in graded tones on a body or a bit of architecture (etc); the way in which nature is perceived, even if its often unconsciously, to be structured and patterned, and the way that visual traditions built up over centuries (in all sorts of different types of art) are really about finding and refinding metaphors for that sense of structure and pattern.  

What drives you to make work?

Optimism, seriousness, interest in history. 

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

Emma Biggs conceives the colour relationships and mixes the colours; Matthew Collings does the actual painting.  Within that framework, which is fairly rigid, the practice is extremely improvisatory.  There are no systems or preplanning.  A few relationships are set up, then some more, then some more, etc.  Most of the work is adjusting and altering. 

How long have you been working in that way?

We have been working together and exhibiting as a duo for just over ten years. 

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

A collection of works in the maritime museum in Venice which are thank yous for people whose lives have been saved at sea.  They are mostly mid tones, because they're sea scenes, and then there will be certain accents or surprises, for example, a black boat.  Or there night be a little depiction of a Madonna or a symbolic representation of the number of souls saved at sea -- and these are likely to be in a much more brilliant colour. 

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Nature, textiles, movies, ceramics.
How would you like people to engage with your work?

Any way they want.  Look at it, we guess! 

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

Richard Wentworth's film in "Modern British Sculpture" and the ancient Egyptian carving of a baboon at the beginning of that show.  

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

Our next show at the Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, at the end of this year (2011).

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