Articles Tagged with: interview

Sensitivity to Life – Jean Nagai & Benjamin Murphy

Jean Nagai
Stars    ink on paper   28cm x 20cm    2005

Benjamin Murphy – First question then: why are you an artist

Jean Nagai – When I was 2years old, I fell from an apt window and died for a few minutes. Somehow being an artist was the next logical step
I had some colorful visions while I was between the two worlds.

BM – Holy shit. So do you remember it?

JN – Yes, I remember it. Not specific shapes colors or shapes, details, memories get more vague over time.

BM – How old were you?

JN – I was 2 yrs old. I also remember there was a figure near me as I floated upwards

BM – Do you ever wonder what you would have become if this never happened?

JN – No, I have not had that thought. I was so young, I wouldn’t know if I would even consider myself conscious at that time.

BM – Or what your artwork would be like has it not happened.

JN – Maybe I would have not taken the path of art? Maybe I would have become a cook, like my parents

BM – If for some reason you couldn’t make art any more, do you think becoming a cook is something that you’d consider?

JN – The possibility of what i would do with my life without art seems quite depressing. I don’t know.

BM – Yeah it’s hard to imagine. So what else do you do besides making art?

JN – Hmmm, these days I’ve been traveling a bit. Just spent a couple months in Thailand, and made a large painting for a solo show. I saw the most incredible show in Tokyo where I saw my friends MSHR open for Incapacitants. Honestly it may have been the best show I’ve ever experienced! The sounds, the energy, I felt so proud to see these old Japanese men create a sense of ecstatic bliss out of what could be described as chaos. I also like going on long hikes.

Jean Nagai
Wildlife Refuge 3   acrylic, sand on canvas  140cm x 274cm    2017

BM – So what art movements or artists are you particularly interested in?

JN – Oh geez, too many to answer… i like art that is hopeful, I like art that is spiritual and I also like when an artist reveals some darkness within us, like Santiago Serra or Bruce Nauman. Georgia O’keeffe is someone I admire greatly.

BM – What do you do when you’re struggling for inspiration?

JN – Oh my. So many things I do to stay inspired. These days it’s running or experiencing art through galleries or talking with other artists. Nature is key for me, and not just mountains but also all the energy that’s just blasting around the city is also nature for me.

BM – What is it that you want your artworks to do?

JN – Maybe what I wanna say with my work is to project a kind of sensitivity to life. Not necessarily fragility although life can be. I think it’s important for people to show that feeling, in art and in the real world.

BM – So one last question: fantasy dinner party, which people living or dead would you invite, you have 6 seats.

JN – Oh geez…your questions fill me with more questions and with endless possibilities…someone from the Denisovan tribe, ghengis khan, nikola Tesla, someone who has worked at area51, Ana mendieta, Jean Michael Basquit

Jean Nagai
Mushroom Head   acrylic, pumice, on canvas  200cm x 150cm  2019

For more conversations

Michael Swaney

Taylor A. White

Richie Culver

For more from Jean Nagai, here is his Instagram


Corona Special 1 – Episode 23 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

corona special

In the next two episodes of the Delphian Podcast, as we are locked down during the Coronavirus outbreak, we will be finding out about the work of the two Delphian Gallery directors. For this episode Benjamin Murphy talks to Nick JS Thompson about his work, his journey into the art world away from the traditional art school route, what he would change about the art industry, and his upcoming projects.

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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More from Nick

His Instagram


Nettle Grellier – Episode 22 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

episode 23 - A painting by Nettle Grellier of two figures which was a winner of the 2019 Delphian Open Call

In episode 22 of the Delphian Podcast, we are joined by painter Nettle Grellier. We talk to her about surviving after university and outside of London, accessibility to arts education, what she would change about the art world, and the inspirations behind her work.

Nettle, along with long-term collaborator George Lloyd-Jones is working on a new body of work entitled Common Ground which they will be showing with Delphian Gallery next month. We speak to Nettle about the ups and downs of working so closely with another artist and how this affects her practice. Shoutouts go to Jake Grewal, Pearl Whipkill, Miranda Forrester, James Owens, Benjamin Senior, Florence Main, Plum Cloutman, and 155a Gallery.

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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More from Nettle

Her Website


Matt Martin – Episode 21 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Episode 21

Artist, photographer, curator and publisher Matt Martin joins us for episode 21 of the Delphian Podcast just before the lockdown. Aside from his personal practice, Matt is the events manager of the newly opened Photo Book Cafe in Shoreditch, as well as being the creator of the Photocopy Club.

We talk about collaboration in the art world, his affinity for Americana, the importance of supporting artist led projects and his latest book “American Xerography in Colour”, among other things. 

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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More from Matt

Instagram


Special edition of the Delphian Podcast – Episode 20 – Questions about the art world you were afraid to ask

special edition
From left to right – Benjamin Murphy, Charley Peters, Jemma Hickman, Nick JS Thompson

In this special edition of the Delphian Podcast we have a recording of a panel discussion that we were invited to lead by Maddie Rose Hills as part of her programme surrounding an exhibition she curated entitled “Where you are not” at Copeland Gallery in Peckham, London.

We chose the subject of “Questions about the art world you were afraid to ask” and invited artist and art writer Charley Peters, and Bo Lee Gallery director Jemma Hickman to join us on the panel to discuss the topic. We talk about the different ways in which to approach galleries, how to make yourself discoverable on social media, the different ways to approach your social media output, and the importance of networking to an artists’ career among many other topics. 

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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Dirtier Over Time – a conversation between Paul Weiner and Benjamin Murphy

Dirtier Over Time

Benjamin Murphy – First question: why are you an artist?

Paul Weiner – I don’t see much of a barrier between art and life. My work is the filter through which I understand what’s going on around me. I’m sorting through what I see in the world and tying the abstract to the concrete, so the works can be dramatic and painterly while also loaded with information and symbols that I’m recording from the world and spitting back out in my work. I end up with shows that are amalgamations of abstraction with the political and personal seeping in. At some point, the work takes on a life of its own through interpretations I setup or accidentally illicit. I live for those moments.

BM – Is that because you’re an artist, or do you not see a distinction between art and life in general?

PW – I do see a distinction, but I see art as a way of processing what we see in our lives. We each have mechanisms we use for making sense of the incredibly complex surroundings we inhabit. What’s so exciting about making art as opposed to, for instance, taking a long walk, is that the result can be a physical object and a relic of the time we live in for others to use later to make sense of their own lives.

BM – That’s a great way to look at it. Art is both a way for you to make sense of your life, but it can also perform the same function for others.

PW – Exactly. I want the viewer to see a broad range of objects from my most personal and emotional works to historical references and political information so they can find their own meaning and load the paintings with that meaning. There’s a level of abstraction in that most people don’t know exactly what my objects are when they first see them even though these are very politically and ideologically-loaded objects. Some of my favorite works hide in plain sight. You might be looking at shells collected from Tulelake internment camp, a mass shooter’s receipts, or toy guns soaking in a vat of Yemeni sidr honey without even realizing it. Those are subversive works almost hidden by their physical abstraction. Other works are more bombastic with pop art references that are more easily read – like my American flag paintings, so there is an energy in those works that informs the others. It’s hard to miss a 20 foot tall flagpole covered in advertisements for military weapons manufacturers hanging from the ceiling.

BM – So you you think artists have a responsibility to take a stand politically?

PW – No. Each artist is different, and we should all have the freedom to make whatever the hell we want to make. My works can be violent, beautiful, sexy, destructive, and ideological all at once. It’s a chaotic and maximal practice where I fit everything in under a big umbrella. Only a small sliver of my work ends up in the gallery and even less  is on social media. I have a lot of surprises up my sleeve that I’m waiting for the right time to put out.

BM – Do you ever destroy works?

PW – It’s usually an accident, but shit falls all over the place in the studio and I break things on the floor all the time. It’s messy and charcoal or graphite gets on everything. The fire department complained about my studio last month, so I’m cleaning it up. Sometimes I still use works that I’ve destroyed. There’s something I like about evidence of my studio’s cannibalistic energy in the work.

BM – Hahaha yeah all that charcoal and oil your studio must be a fire hazard

PW – Yeah. I’m trying to clean up my act in 2020!

BM – Why do you do when a piece isn’t working, do you ever abandon them?

PW – Yes. The poured charcoal pieces are especially fickle. Sometimes I abandon them if I don’t immediately respond to the composition, but they age nicely as they get dirtier over time. Occasionally I overwork a piece and do just throw it away.

BM – Yeah that’s something interesting that I’d like you to elucidate, tell me about how your works alter over time, and why you choose not to fix them once you’ve finished painting?

PW – Some of the works do get fixed, but I like the idea of a drawing as less of a stable object and more of an image that evolves over its lifecycle. The unfixed works seem less commercial and less decorative in that way, which lends some authenticity to abstraction.

BM – Some of your works are quite expressive and almost chaotic, your charcoal works especially, do they come from that kind of place?

PW – They do. I also think of those works as being violent. I tend to use them to create drama within an exhibition, as is the case with my recent show at Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art in Houston. They soak up all the information from surrounding sculptures and become filled with those ideas even as they remain expressive. I’ve also thought of those works as a sort of reference to post-war abstract expressionism and the specifically Jewish nature of that movement. You arguably have some of the greatest Jewish art and criticism ever in that movement between the Rothkos, Greenbergs, Krasners, Frankenthalers, Gustons, Newmans, Rosenbergs, and others of that movement. At a time when Jewishness is back in the news, this work seems very pertinent. As much as those charcoal works are my own expression, they are almost sculptural references to a time wrought with war and the realignment of power dynamics on the world stage, somewhat mirroring what we see again today.

BM – Ah nice, a lot of Anselm Kiefer’s work is about the secondary guilt he feels as a German about the Holocaust. It isn’t necessarily directly referenced in most of his work, but it provides a context that affects the reading of his oppressive, gestural pieces.

So what would you say is the purpose of art?

PW – Art can serve so many purposes from person to person that I’m hesitant to define the purpose aside from the idea that it should illicit thought or emotion in some way. I don’t even think I know what my art’s own purpose will be 5, 10, or 100 years from now. I hope it will still be relevant. 

What you said about Kiefer is interesting. I have always admired his work, especially the way he infuses history into his paintings to build these contemporary artifacts that merge our time with what came before. Kiefer takes on such a variety of incredibly powerful and controversial topics at once and marries them together in grandly emotional constructions of paint and materials.

BM – The febrile political climate that we find ourselves in at the moment is serving to inspire a lot of great art. 

PW – Yeah. This climate of international power realignment leaves us in a constant state of flux, and the art we see today is reflective of these times whether it’s consciously made that way or not. It’s conscious for me, as is clear in my exhibition at Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, which includes a variety of objects that are critical of war profiteering particularly targeting Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Halliburton. Even as trillions of dollars are siphoned away from domestic American interests, there is a great deal of money to be made on American wars. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a former lobbyist for Raytheon, is a walking conflict of interests.

We’ve just learned of the American drone strike that killed Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, a powerful Iranian General. This is an act of war. Today, we are at an impasse where we will learn if any true opposition party exists that could force our president to deescalate American conflicts nearing war with Iran and elsewhere throughout the world. As abrupt as this massive military escalation feels, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Just a few weeks ago, Congress agreed to a bipartisan reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act that granted widespread executive authority to the president and rejected an amendment that would have forced the president to seek congressional approval before this strike.

Crippling bipartisan sanctions on Iran were passed in a 98-2 US Senate vote in 2017, causing economic havoc that is particularly harsh for poor and vulnerable people. The sanctions have had the effect of limiting the import of medicines and causing cruel and needless trouble for sick people, especially pediatric cancer patients. In combination with a bipartisan $738 billion defense spending bill, the complicity of those who claim to resist Trump is palpable.

BM – Do you ever wonder what you would make your work about if you lived in a socialist utopia and had nothing to critique?

PW – I would be working hard to keep it that way, and my art would reflect that. I suppose important themes in my work would be solidarity, protection, and emancipation all still filtered through abstraction in some way. Any time a leftist reform is implemented, it’s vital to defend those reforms by creating a culture around them and organizing to quash the inevitable opposition from capital by limiting the resources available to that opposition.

I’m not fighting for a fantasy world or nitpicking about what constitutes perfect socialism, though. I’m just tired of a system that has presided over the unprecedented transfer of wealth to a few ultra-wealthy oligarchs at the same time as it filters trillions of tax dollars through endless wars that force unnecessary cruelty on people all over the world when that money could be used to improve domestic living conditions instead. I want a system where we don’t have to hopelessly watch as Australia and Jakarta burn while living in constant state of fear that there might be a school shooting down the street, we can’t pay our debts, or afford our medications and where we don’t have to hear about elites going galavanting around the world on Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophile airplane.

I want a system where people can go to the doctor when they’re sick without worrying about going bankrupt, go to a public college for free, put a roof over their heads, and earn a respectable wage to support their families without wondering if another pointless war will suck away all the resources tomorrow.

For more by Paul


Richie Culver – Episode 19 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

episode 19

London based artist Richie Culver joins us on the Delphian Podcast. He tells us about his background and his very different beginnings working in caravan factories in Hull to his current life as an artist and father.

His work provokes strong reactions with viewers and we talk about this and the impact that this has on his work. We also talk about his new body of work of bold text pieces in which he is trying to move away from the working class tag which has been associated with him and the reasons behind this

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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More from Richie

Making Bad Decisions

His Website


Aindrea Emelife – Episode 18 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Andrea emelife

Art critic, curator, art advisor, and presenter Aindrea Emelife joins us on the Delphian Podcast to talk about her route into such a varied career. As well as the aforementioned, she is also one half of Plop Residency and she gives us the low down on the history of the residency who she runs with Oli Epp. Other topics discussed are the role of the critic, how that is changing in the modern era and how it can inform a practice. 

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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Rosie Gibbens – Episode 17 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

rosie gibbens

 

Performance artist Rosie Gibbens joins us for this episode of the Delphian Podcast. Her intense, often very personal performances raise questions of gender, sexuality and domesticity. We talk to her about tropes of performance art, how crowd reaction and participation affects her work as well as the importance of accepting criticism.

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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Christmas Crossover – Episode 16 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

christmas crossover
L-R Gary Mansfield, Nick Stavri, Elizabeth Power, Benjamin Murphy, Jessie Hilcox, Nick JS Thompson, Rowan Newton

 

For this special edition of the Delphian Podcast we met up with some of our friends who who also have their own art based podcasts. We had a chat with them over a glass of wine and a mince pie about art, podcasting, and why they got into the business, and each podcast will be releasing this episode on their own channels. Make sure you check out their podcasts as they are all great! They are the Artfully Podcast, Art Proof Podcast, and the Mizog Art Podcast

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

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