There are four days remaining to enter this year’s Aesthetica Art Prize, an opportunity for emerging ans established artists to showcase their talent to new, wider audiences. Today, we speak to previously longlisted artist Nathan Walsh to explore how he presents a painted world which in some ways resembles the world we live in.
A: You were longlisted in this year’s Prize for Transamerica. The illustration depicts the inter-connectedness of a modern society. What inspired you to capture the complex and fluctuating nature of an urban landscape?
NW: I enjoy wandering around locations I’m not familiar with, often in an unplanned and haphazard manner. The human experience of walking through an urban landscape is something I find that offers limitless possibilities for ‘fixing’ this chaos through the act of painting.
Whilst Transamerica is based on the view through and behind an actual shop window in San Francisco’s Chinatown it deviates wildly from the actuality of the location. Existing visual languages are explored and manipulated and information from other sources is introduced. The work ends up as a shifting combination of real, imported and imaginary information, approaching a return to our initial experience.
A: Your work proposes a sense of diversity and multiculturalism; yet clear boundaries can still be determined. Can you talk about the message behind this piece, and how you anticipate that audiences will engage with it?
NW: There is no specific message to the painting just an attempt to universalise my experience of being within a multi-layered urban environment. I want people to explore the information presented to them and their position within it. For example, what is concrete form in front of us and what is merely a reflected information behind us. The window opens up this dialogue and questions this reality.
A: An element of technical drawing arises in the creation of your images. How do you begin and develop your drawings from line to colour and form?
NW: The images develop in a surprisingly fluid manner, particularly at the drawing stage which can take up to a month to complete. I start with one horizon line and then plot vanishing points along this line within and outside the picture plane. These points allow me to construct simple shapes which will be revised and reordered over time as I get a clearer idea of the potential of the image. Pictorial elements come and go and the simple shapes become subdivided to make more recognisable forms. A point is reached when the drawing has served its purpose and I will start washing over heavily diluted oil paint in an attempt to develop a rich and varied colour palette.
A: Alongside a keen focus on order and logic, can organic elements be found within your practice?
NW: The paintings I’m currently working on which will be shown at the Bernarducci Mesiel Gallery in 2017 are less rooted in pure architectural form and exhibit a far more organic approach to paint handling and application. An engagement with surface texture is more obvious which I believe leads to a continually moving ‘surface’ and richer visual experience. Paint is built up, scrapped away then reapplied with a view to exploring its full material potential.
A: How do you see your work evolving and developing in the future?
NW: I try not to make the same painting twice nor make a painting in the same way or my studio life becomes uninteresting. I’m excited by the idea of the work becoming more complicated, more expansive spatially and equally more immersive for the viewer. These aims are likely to find form through being playful in the studio, setting more difficult challenges and then searching for more elegant solutions.
To see more of Nathan’s work, visit www.nathanwalsh.net
Enter the Aesthetica Art Prize by 31 August: www.aestheticamagazine.com/artprize
1. Nathan Walsh, Transamerica