A Conversation with the artist Tim Fawcett Jack House Gallery 2017
JHG What artists have influenced you? I see Bacon in the compositional placing of the fallen figures and the graphic ‘elegance’ of some of the backgrounds.
TF As a student, I was always impressed by Francis Bacon's and Edvard Munch's deeply expressive figurative works. I still find Bacon’s compositional genius breath taking, combine this with his gesturally painted distortions and propensity for colour, there will never be another! More recently I have studied works by: Marlene Dumas, Cecily Brown, Luc Tuymans, Chantal Joffe, Hurvin Anderson, Erci Fischl and love the freedom and power of abstract mark making by Cy Twombly, and Joan Mitchel - really too many to mention!
JHG I see the paintings in the Modern Life series as blackly tragi-comic. They make me laugh and shudder. Drunk not dead? Where did the series come from?
TF Yes, drunk, but they could just as easily be dead I suppose! I used to commute to London from Brighton for many years, and found it fascinating to people-watch, most people looked so despairing in their own little worlds, and the importance of the outward physical appearance and conformity of dress code, that society so often dictates - The veneer of authority. By seeing this for what it is, I aim to emphasise the absurdity through my work, maybe there’s a little of the broadsheet cartoonist in me! However, more than that is the feeling of darkness and despair that pervades when I consider our so called classless society and the inequalities that remain. So, this is my defiant gesture against the establishment. Most, if not all these works are based on found photographic evidence from online searches.
JHG There is a balance between the narrative and the physicality of the paint. Do you find it hard to keep that balance and find you are sometimes tipping one way or the other?
TF Such a good question, in a word – YES! It is always a challenge to maintain a sense of balance between the physicality of the paint and the narrative as the work progresses, which I love and hate at the same time with a passion. Through the process of painting, as instinctively as I can, the physicality of the paint and the accidents from its application are of equal, if not more importance than the initial image or starting point. It is imperative that I achieve this balance as subconsciously as possible hopefully resulting in a more honest and direct approach. So yes, the balance can tip one way or the other but not often through choice.
JHG I am very interested in paintings that use photographs as a starting point which I understand you do? Could you explain what you try to bring to an image that has already been made in what is an act of ‘re-processing’ or re-doing?
TF It is my objective to re-present found and identifiable images in a new and more powerful compositional form. It is my honest and emotional response, in the only way I know, that I wish to share with and challenge my audience.
JHG You look like you work at some aggressive speed. Do you go back to your work after a period of time and add? There doesn’t look to be much room to correct or take away given the nature of your materials as there would be with oil paint or acrylic?
TF I wouldn’t say that I worked at and “aggressive” speed, but I would say that I work with some urgency! Ok, so it’s a subtle difference perhaps, but I think an important one. Then with that urgency comes more of the spontaneity mentioned earlier I suppose, but that isn’t a conscious decision , just the way I work when I’m fired up and focused.
JHG Do you go back to your work after a period of time and add?
TF Not if I can help it. My ideal process would be to start and finish a painting in one sitting, typically in around 3-4 hours. This is because starting again the next day needs the same build-up of momentum and emotional focus, but if that’s what is needed to finish then I do it, not always successfully I might add, in which case I may start from scratch again by re-stretching a new fabric on the same stretcher.
JHG There doesn’t look to be much room to correct or take away given the nature of your materials as there would be with oil paint or acrylic?
TF I like the fact that using gloss paint does not allow me to correct or take away, sure, I can paint over it, often I do, as it dries so quickly. To me it is important to allow the process and physicality of the paint to do its own thing, and once it’s there it’s there, warts n’ all!
Gloss paint is less manageable, and simply flows, drips, smears and stains. It is also in some ways a statement like that of art povera, with unconventional processes being anti-elitist, and challenging the values of established institutions of government, industry, and culture. Household paint after all is an everyday, affordable product that most people use in their own homes, and so there is a domestic familiarity with the paint but also the curtain fabrics used.
JHG Your titles – are they randomly gleaned from the internet? They seem interchangeable in particular with the drunk men series, but how do you choose them and how important are they? Are they something that must go alongside the work?
TF Yes most are interchangeable except ‘gimme some skin’ referring to a cynicaldialogue between the two figures. Most all of these titles are either song titles or lyrics from politically charged/motivated songs from my formative years, the meaning of which, still hold true today. So this in part is my homage to my musical heroes such as: The Clash, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Ramones and the Smiths. One exception to this is "Nobody builds walls like me" which is a direct quote from Donald Trump, i heard the day I painted this piece.