Brighton based and Bulgarian born artist, Iva Troj Zlatev builds up mirages of layers and glazes to utilise traditional techniques with contemporary storytelling. The lithe nudes combined with delicately depicted cultural images and gorgeously real animals trace alternative allegories and imagined narratives that seek to challenge the preconceived values apparent in traditional storytelling. Iva spoke to us to explain further how she constructs these multi-faceted pieces, ahead of her exhibiting at the FLUX Art Exhibition in London.
Iva Troj’s Artist Statement:
‘Troj’s knowledge of traditional art techniques was first inspired by the necessity for her to fit in with Cold War aesthetics of social realism. Alongside this, however, lay her acute perception of the reality existent beneath external structures.‘
‘The underlying stories, especially the conflicts, are much more interesting to me than mere portraiture. I want to know what’s going on, which is why I have always been interested in research. When I decided to go back to university and to get a second BA and a masters degree, I chose software design, philosophy, and cognitive science rather than fine art, because research methodology fascinates me.’
Iva Troj, Girls II, 2017, colour pencils, pastels, acrylics on canvas, 62 H x 42 W cm
‘Troj has long been inspired by Japanese art and culture – traditional and contemporary – evident in the strange characters and icons which populate her landscapes alongside nude renaissance figures. It would be straightforward to assimilate Troj’s work with some sort of allegory. However, the artist is open to expressing the danger in utilizing this as a tool that is often too culture-specific. Instead by breaking up classical motifs, Iva Troj introduces parallel stories in a postmodern shift, binding the inescapably contemporary with revived histories.‘
Iva Troj, A Child Of Wonder, 2017, pastels, acrylics, gold leaf on canvas, 51 H x 42 W cm
‘In many ways, I am what you get when you throw ancient Sakar Mountain wisdom failing to adapt to totalitarian ideas right into the pits of post-industrial capitalism. My grandmother’s village used to be in the no man’s land surrounding the Turkish and Greek/Bulgarian border during the communist regime. It used to be totally isolated from the industrial world and there was no school or a library (or pollution). And somehow my grandma knew what Wabi-sabi was. I asked her about it and she told me a story about a lion tamer. Beauty is ”imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete,” she said. I am not sure how I came to find the clues to Japanese culture. She never talked about China or Japan, “intimacy”, or appreciation of the ”ingenuous integrity of natural objects”. That was not how she spoke. Instead of using fancy words she showed me things and explained their beauty to me. Her house and her garden were full of evidence of beautiful imperfection.’
Iva Troj, Fields, 2017, pastels, acrylics, gold leaf on canvas, 66 x 48cm
How did you become an artist?
As a child I was taught to question one-dimensional narratives, which grew from a survival technique to a development technology of the artistic self. The foe I so often portray almost always represents the normalization of one or more dysfunctional discourses, such as the victimization of the female gender, religious dogma and racial inequality.
Iva Troj, What Noah Forgot, 2016, pastels, acrylics, 14ct gold leaf on canvas, 50 x 100cm
Like many artists, I discuss personal experiences. At the same time, I strive to escape the self, an urge that partially stems from crossing borders in the last years of the cold war. Living through cultural starvation in my childhood has made me restless and hungry for honest creativity with an almost childlike curiosity. In that sense, nothing I discuss is strictly personal. Sexual abuse, violence, trauma… I may present an unusual perspective on these topics stemming from the self, but only as an outset. The work needs to keep changing, relive itself, challenge its own conformity.
Iva Troj, Water Under No Bridge Special edition, 2015, pastels, acrylics, oil on canvas, 51 x 70cm
There is a point in every artist’s career when one is tempted to choose a tested and proven path. I’m constantly trying to resist this temptation by containing the “paths” in series where I can explore a motif or a theme without succumbing to the comforts of one visual style. The artists that I look up to for inspiration have one thing in common – constant renewal.
Traditional elements are very central to my body of work. It’s not so much a need to keep the style ”traditional”, but rather the way I speak. I grew up in a communist country. We sang songs about machines being superior to man and praised modernity while destroying nature and killing creativity and the human spirit with it. At the same time, my summers were spent in the mountains with my grandmother who had hanging gardens, thousand stories and no TV. These two realities are inseparable in my mind.
Iva Troj, What Gives, 2018, pastels, acrylics, gold leaf on canvas, 42 x 62cm
The painting technique I mostly use resembles the Flemish method of layering thin veneers of paint between layers of varnish. I start with pencils, pastels and varnish. After that I paint a lighter layer with acrylics and finish with a couple of thicker layers using a combination of mediums, often acrylics and oils, but sometimes gold leaf and inks.
What materials do you use to create your layered paintings?
I use pencils (Derwent), good quality acrylics, not the cheaper brands although some may work occasionally. I’m happy with Winsor & Newton acrylics and Titan’s, but not the soft tubes, they are semi-transparent, plastic looking and don’t dry well, as in create build-up which has led to having to use lots of sandpaper. Also, some acrylic paints crack when subjected to cold or dump conditions. In regards to varnish and glazes, I sometimes prefer the varnishes created for wood rather than canvas.
Iva Troj, Embrace Series VI, 2017, Pastels, acrylics, oil on canvas, 103 x 55cm
What about research methodology captures you and how does this inform your work?
I’ve always had that something that Swedish people call a “bloodhound personality”. If I have a question in my head I’ll look for an answer or not sleep. Being interested in that kind of thing is part of my nature and, of course, when something is part of your nature it comes through in the paintings. I have always felt that telling stories about sensitive topics implies vast knowledge of the human nature. So you have to be able to do your research or you are going to fall flat on your face.
Iva Troj, Milk, 2017, pastels, acrylics, oil, gold leaf on canvas, 42 x 66 cm
Your work seems to have a sense of containment, is this something you deliberately accentuate when designing a composition? Do you ever adapt a composition at a later stage of painting?
The sense of containment comes from visually trying to keep something harmful under control as a way to convey a conflict or a dichotomy (as in motherhood vs. social withdrawal and nature vs. the unnatural,etc). This is mostly something I have done in my recent work, with the Milk series especially. It started while I was working on my Embrace series in 2014 and 2015, for the Piccadilly “Laid Bare” show in London. In Embrace, I tried to bring components of the story together, which resulted in some very “tight” compositions and the way people reacted to those compositions, as being “in the presence of a powerful emotion”, made me want to explore these closer.
Iva Troj, Make A Child in the Forest II, pastels, acrylics, oil on canvas, 103 x 55cm
You say you seek to expose underlying stories and provide parallel allegories and stories, where do these alternative narratives come from and how do you feel you visually describe the conflict inherent in them?
I often find myself looking for the conflict in art and if the conflict is missing I would find the artwork unengaging and move on to something else. There must be a conflict in there or the story falls flat, even if it is a simple play of dark vs. light. The way I visually construct these stories may seem subtle to some people but I often find it quite simple (not simplistic, just straightforward). If you paint a portrait of a couple embracing in a polite hug people looking at it will think “that’s nice” and move on, but if you make the embrace tighter and put a twist in a simple gesture like for example fingers digging deep into the other person’s arm, people will stop and think “there is something going on here”. And the symbols you add on top of that will give clues about the nature of this conflict. It is as simple as that.
Iva Troj, Lions & Monkeys – Dancer, 2016, colour pencils, acrylics, gold leaf on canvas, 122 x 58 cm
Do you work on one piece or narrative at a time or do you find they interweave and speak to each other as you work? Would you say they build up a serial narrative or world?
I have to challenge my own attention span all the time because I’m restless by nature and keeping to one story at the time is hard. I allow myself to build layers of stories and some of these layers appear in other paintings as well. It’s like layering up beats in music compositions, each layer does it’s own thing. It’s all about getting them in sync. The way these layers find their sync is usually something that is unique to each individual storyteller. If you have that and you know what it is then you have something to do for the rest of your life. Just don’t go to the pub every night and waste it.
Iva Troj, Night In Armour, 2017, colour pencils, acrylics, gold leaf on canvas
Which artists do you admire?
The artists that I admire have one thing in common – constant renewal. Quite understandably, I tend to follow currently living artists and have a soft spot for many female artists such as Hikari Shimoda, Cinta Vidal, Brandi Milne, Yayoi Kusama, but also for sculpture artists like Kris Kuksi and Xu Bing, and painters such as Harry He, Travis Louie and Gerhard Richter.
Iva Troj, Dance Series Diptych, 2016, pastels, acrylics, 14ct gold leaf on canvas, 90 x 70cm
What are your ambitions?
Being able to rise above mediocrity. There is a special kind of happiness in knowing that throughout your life you have taken risks in order to rise above mediocrity and I want to feel that happiness before my earthly life comes to an end. Nobody explains it better than Kazuo Ishiguro in ”The artist of the floating world”. I fear stagnation more than anything, both in my artistic career and in my relationships.
Ivo Troj, Diver, 2015, pastels, acrylics, oil on canvas, 51 x 70cm
Where is your studio? What is it like and do you have any studio rituals?
I am looking for a studio at the moment so right now I am working in my lounge and there is art everywhere, mine and other people’s. I tend to buy art whenever I have money to spare. So in a way, that is a studio ritual, because I surround myself with artefacts. Other than that, I binge-watch/listen to news and podcasts and sometimes to music. I don’t work well when it is quiet. Maybe because I have always lived in the city and right now I live in the country just outside Brighton. I miss the sound of people doing things around me.
The third post of the series is up! For this article, we contacted artist studios and galleries to get a different perspective on advice for emerging artists. Read on to hear thoughts from Print London, JOPP Judge Jacqui McIntosh from the Drawing Room Gallery, Second Floor Studios and East London Printmakers.
Print Club London was established in 2007 and is run by managing director Fred Higginson (Sculptor/ Illustrator M.O.L.) and director Kate Higginson. The duo works closely with iconic illustrator and creative director Rose Stallard, who brings the Print Club brand to life with her inimitable 1970s fanzine-style-artwork and edgy typography. Alongside running the studios Fred, Kate and Rose also curate an annual exhibition ‘Blisters’ one of the UK’s largest poster shows, it introduces a wider demographic to affordable, original artwork, bringing a contemporary art scene to a brand new audience. Whilst providing studio space and selling work is a key focus of the studios, the trio work with clients on projects ranging from bespoke bags for Stella McCartney to live printing projects in store with Nike. Read more about Print Club London on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or website.
‘Perseverance is key! Keep going and ensure that you’re actively putting your work out there, if you get knocked back don’t be discouraged. Take opinions and advice on board but always, always trust your instinct and have conviction behind your work!’
Jacqui McIntosh has managed exhibitions at Drawing Room since 2011. She was Project Leader and curator of See Think Different, a 3-year collaborative project between Drawing Room and global media company UBM. Previously she worked in the commercial sector and was a Director of Kevin Kavanagh Gallery Dublin. Independently, she has worked as a curator and writer in Ireland and UK. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, Irish Examiner, Contemporary and Art Review and in catalogue essays for galleries and artists. She is a member of AICA. You can read more about Jacqui on our Jackson’s Open Painting Prize website.
‘Stay true to yourself. Be authentic and develop your own individual voice. Don’t change the way you work in order to get approval or to make sales. Be ambitious for your work in the studio.
Be proactive. Find ways to get your work seen – put on exhibitions with other artists, apply for residences, enter competitions. Use social media and keep your website up to date.
Get to know how the art world works and where your work fits in.
Meet people! Opportunities often arise from relationships built on a genuine connection. Try to build professional relationships with others in the art world, especially those you have a genuine affinity with.
Find ways of financially supporting yourself so that you can survive and keep making your work.’
Jacqui McIntosh, Exhibitions Manager at Drawing Room
Second Floor Studios & Arts (SFSA) was established in 1997. It is a leading arts organisation providing affordable studio space for visual and fine artists’ and craft and designer-makers. Their core aim is providing best quality studios and facilities at monthly rental prices our members can afford and whom would otherwise struggle to find comparable studio workspace on the open commercial market. You can read more about Second Floor Studios on their website.
‘Being a studio provider we see artists at every stage of their careers. Those who succeed are in their studios working, with rhythm and commitment week in, week out.
They have consistent ideas with a flair for interpretation. Their work develops an unmistakable identity and it is that identity that offers the foothold to success. The stumble we watch time and time again is around pricing of work. Selling one piece at a high price isn’t an indicator that the artist is ready to sell all work at a higher than normal price point. Sell consistently a large proportion of everything made each year before increasing prices and collectors will have more confidence. Finally exhibit regularly.’
Artist Le Guo, Academic Stephen Baycroft, image by Warren King. Second Floor Studios
The second post of the series is up! For this article, we asked the incredibly talented, professional portrait artists Raoof Haghighi, Charlie Schaffer and Amy Judd what advice they would give to emerging artists.
Raoof is a self- taught versatile artist who has participated in over 45 group and 40 solo shows in the United States, France, Iran and the United Kingdom. His artworks have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award 2011, 2015 & 2017, Threadneedle Prize 2012, 2013 & 2014, RBA Royal Society of British artists 2014, 2015 & 2016, Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) 2014 – 2015 & 2017. He also won the Sky Art Portrait artist of the year in 2014, and Jackson’s ‘Drawn In’ Competition in 2016. View more of Raoof’s work on his website, Instagram or Facebook.
‘Always follow the things is close to your heart and stay focused. Passion is important but there are other elements that as important as that. Practising and try not to limit yourself. Try everything and experiment with different mediums and style.
And don’t follow the market. You’ll never catch up. Be yourself because that would be your style at the end!’
'The Supper', Raoof Haghighi, Pencil on paper, 21x29cm
Schaffer has exhibited widely across the UK and has a very reputable selection of awards under their belt, including The Brian Botting Prize “for an artist aged 30 or under for an outstanding representation of the human figure” and the Pastel Society Unison Young Artist Award. They have also exhibited widely across the UK in prestigious galleries such as the Mall Galleries, Ashurst Gallery and the Royal College of Art. You might recognise their work from their time on the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, or from their Instagram account.
‘Being an artist isn’t the romantic life that many assume it is. It’s hard. Art is not something with an end goal – it is a constantly developing reflection of life, and therefore a way of life. The most important thing to do is to establish is a good routine, and stick to it. Make sure to work every day, even if it’s just drawing, and even if it doesn’t go well. The more work you do, the less precious you’ll become about your art, and in turn the more willing you’ll become to take risks. It’s when you take those risks that your work progresses.
Go to art galleries as much as possible. Look at, copy, and learn from work that inspires you. Being an artist can be isolated, and you can get trapped in an echo chamber of your own thoughts and your own work. Looking at other art can nudge you in a direction that on your own you may miss. You always learn from looking at others, and what’s more, it’s important to feel connected to something broader that exists outside of yourself.
Get used to failure and don’t take it personally. The best thing I’ve learnt over the last 4 years has been being able to accept rejection. I enter any competition or prize that I think is remotely relevant to my work. I get rejections on a weekly basis, but then every so often I’ll get an acceptance or even a prize. No one notices the failures, and without them, you will never put yourself in the way of opportunities.
If you really want to be an artist then you have to accept from the beginning that your life will not be easy. You’ll spend most of your time alone, and, most likely you won’t earn any money. Art is difficult, and so is the life of an artist, but every so often you’ll experience the fleeting sense that you have breathed life into something, and that makes it all worth it.’
"Head of Thandi", Charlie Schaffer 2016. Oil on canvas, 41 x 41
Judd’s work has received international recognition after being featured on the Battersea Affordable Art Fair Spring Campaign. She has also had her paintings exhibited at the Hick’s Gallery, collaborated with the New York edition of Harper’s Bazaar, been commissioned by The Grosvenor House Hotel and been mentioned in Kate Hudson’s top 20 favourite things! To view more of Amy Judd’s work, please read her interview with the Affordable Art Fair.
“My advice is to get seen. No one will see your talent if it’s stuck behind your studio door. Be pro-active and get an online presence, my best exposure has been on social media, through Facebook, Pinterest and bloggers, these have a life of there own and keep going without you having to do a thing. More importantly, get your stuff out there physically by organising your own shows, enter competitions, do open studios… you never know who will come!”
This major exhibition by Stephen Chambers introduces ‘The Court of Redonda’, a collective portrait of an imaginary court of maverick and singular individuals. it includes 101 paintings with artists imagining an alternative world.
‘Curated by Emma Hill, The Court of Redonda was made over a two-year period that coincided with Britain’s referendum about leaving the European Union and touches upon themes of identity, heredity and nationalism. She says, “The Court of Redonda is woven from a story about an uninhabited place, which writers and artists have envisioned. It is a work about the collective human spirit. The expression of the necessity and freedom of creative imagination, for art’s ability to reflect to us the moment we are living in and for an individual artist’s statement to carry the weight of this, is at the heart of images Chambers presents us with in the faces of his imaginary courtiers.”‘
The Heong Gallery
Downing College, University of Cambridge,
Regent St, Cambridge
Context: Gallery Artists & Collaborators
23 February – 31 March 2018
Geraldine Swayne | Je t’aime moi non plus | 2014 | Enamel on aluminium | 7.5x12cm
This exhibition includes the work of 19 artists, who are gallery artists or regular contributors, it includes painting, drawing, sculpture & installation.
Peter Ashton Jones, Emma Bennett, Kiera Bennett, Tom Butler, Dan Coombs, Florian Heinke, Sam Jackson, Reece Jones, Kate Lyddon, Eric Manigaud, Wendy Mayer, Hugh Mendes, Alex Gene Morrison, Gavin Nolan, Dominic Shepherd, John Stark, Geraldine Swayne, Barry Thompson, Gavin Tremlett.
Gallery Director Zavier Ellis states:
“In some ways a gallery artists show is a pretty dull and unimaginative thing to do. But, on the upside it enables our audience to digest our stable in context. We are mostly a painter’s gallery, albeit with a curatorial emphasis that embraces every medium when appropriate. The artists we exhibit are technical, but this is nowhere near enough in itself. You will find that each one of them makes work with an intense emotional, philosophical or psychological charge, and so their work operates in a challenging, profound way. ”
‘Jessica Warboys’ Sea Paintings are made below the high water line at the sea’s edge. After immersion, the sodden canvases are pulled from the sea and laid out on the beach. Mineral pigments are thrown directly onto the sea beaten fabric; its folds and creases catching the grains of colour. The process is then repeated with the canvas returning to the sea or being left to dry on the beach. The sea, wind, and sand along with the pigment and the artist’s hand create forms through the movement of colour. The place and date of making is given in each work’s title, emphasizing the mirroring of location and time.’
27 March – 1 April 2018
Private View: Thursday 29 March 6-9pm
Victoria Perloff, Figures
#pengtings is an exhibition by a group of international female artists who are consciously choosing to confront how they present interpretations of the world and how they weave into this interpretation their own desire.
‘Social media has given us all carte blanche to reinvent ourselves as super-human, exaggerating how we look and artificially enhancing what we believe are our best features. The pressure surrounding body image is a real and growing issue and can occasionally manifest itself in anxiety and mental illness. There are numerous ways to define beauty and catching a moment to appreciate it can be a way to alleviate the stresses of life and escape into a world of imagination. This can be achieved with art that pushes the boundaries of what is real and can imitate itself within painting, drawing, and sculpture.’
The first post of the series is up! For this article, we asked the incredibly talented, professional portrait artists Tim Benson, Cristina BanBan and Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018 Commended Entry Frances Bell what advice they would give to emerging artists.
Benson is a multi-award-winning portrait artist who has exhibited extensively around the globe. His practice is committed to building awareness through painting – he is committed to working with charities and NGOs to tell the stories of people throughout the world who don’t have a voice. His paintings are currently on show at the Mall Galleries in his solo exhibition ‘Visions of Zambia‘; alternatively, you can view more of his work on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
‘Of course, it all starts with the work that you produce. Belief in your own work is essential; if you don’t believe in it why should anybody else? With the belief comes the motivation to get into your place of work as often as possible and to create the work that matters to you.
An online presence is important, so a website is very necessary. Not only is it an effective archive of your work but it acts like a portfolio for interested people to refer to. Further to this social media platforms such as Instagram are useful for getting your work seen; there’s no point being a talented artist if nobody can see your talent!’
‘Ene, traditional healer’, Tim Benson, Oil on Canvas, 48” x 36”
After starting her career as a well renowned Illustrator, BanBan’s style has recently grown into a bright, more fleshy style of painting that captures voluptuous, exaggerated characters. As well as being exhibited in the UK, Spain and Belgium, her work has been featured by Its Nice That, Time Out, Female First and Vogue. View more of Cristina’s work on her Instagram or website.
‘To work hard, keep positive and find a way to show the work.’
'Updating', Cristina BanBan, Acrylic and Spray Paint on Canvas, 150 x 180 cm
Frances Bell was one of our 10 Commended Entries for Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018, meaning her atmospheric portrait automatically skipped the initial round of judging and was placed immediately into the competition’s longlist due to its outstanding quality. Outside of JOPP, Bell has a very successful career – in 2017 alone, she exhibited in with the Royal Society of British Artists, The Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Fresh Paint Exhibition, The Society of Women Artists, The Royal Society of Marine Artists, The Society of Wildlife Artists and The Royal Institute of Oil Painters. You can view more of her work on Facebook or her website.
‘I was once advised to think slowly and act quickly. In truth, I can’t remember what activity this gem pertained to, but it’s great advice for painting.
I would encourage emerging artists to be intrepid in their new interests and to be promiscuous experimenters while trying to hold a set of clear objectives in mind. So while you might be rifling through paint and canvases, you do so in aid of progressing only a few considered aims at a time, allowing the ideas to sink in slowly.
For example; I recently became fascinated by the aura and ambience created by dual light sources in portraiture. Over the course of 2 years, I have sprinkled my spare time with experiments in dual light which have been varied in their success but hugely beneficial to my overall development. I have other interests which are evolving alongside my dual light experiment, but in persisting with it in a “slow, long thought” kind of a way, spread over many quick projects rather than one long one, I feel I’m gradually developing another technique with which to express emotive subjects in portraiture.
The results of your adventures can then be entered into competitions as a bonus!’
The Jackson’s Open Painting Prize always generates fantastic conversations about what it’s like being an artist and about the processes artists use to make work. Whether it’s between entrants during the submission period (closing 23:59 16th March 2018), our panels during the judging process, our followers during the public voting or across social media when the winners are announced, everyone has a space to get involved in the discussion. This broad dialogue, on the different forms that being an artist can take, provides an excellent opportunity for creatives to reassess their practice and re-focus their efforts on areas they’re truly passionate about. Support your growth by reading our new series ‘Advice for Emerging Artists’ made in collaboration with the Affordable Art Fair that features top tips from a wide range of professional artists, galleries and studios.
Advice from Portrait Artists: Part 1
Tim Benson, Cristina BanBan and JOPP 2018 Commended Entry Frances Bell COMING SOON
Advice from Portrait Artists: Part 2
Raoof Haghighi, Charlie Schaffer and Amy Judd COMING SOON
Advice from Artist Studios & Galleries
Print Club London, JOPP 2018 Judge Jacqui McIntosh from the Drawing Room, Second Floor Studios, East London Printmakers COMING SOON
Advice from Realism Painters: Part 1
Sophie Ploeg COMING SOON
Advice from Realism Painters: Part 2
Leslie Watts COMING SOON
Advice from Contemporary Painters: Part 1
Helena Goldwater, Jarik Jongman, Delphine Lebourgeois and JOPP 2018 Commended Entry Ben Coode-Adams COMING SOON
Advice from Contemporary Painters: Part 2
Michele Mikesell, Carne Griffiths and Simon Parish COMING SOON
Advice from Landscape Painters
Peter Brown and JOPP 2018 Commended Entry Emily Powell COMING SOON
Advice from Abstract Painters
JOPP 2018 Judge Karl Bielik and JOPP 2018 Commended Entry Aisling Drennan COMING SOON
Advice from Botanical Artists: Part 1
Lizzie Harper COMING SOON
Advice from Botanical Artists: Part 2
Heidi Willis and Shevaun Doherty COMING SOON
Advice from Watercolour Artists
Anita Bhatia and JOPP 2018 Commended Entry Sharon Hurst COMING SOON
‘Making a living as an artist is extremely hard and even rare. It can be done but I think it would be foolish to assume it will happen just like that. So first and foremost I would advise them to make sure they are secure, have a roof over their heads and food to eat! Very often that means getting another job; sometimes you can stay within the arts and teach or coach, at other times artists work in all sorts of sectors ranging from law to health care! ‘
'Lace in Box', Sophie Ploeg, Oil on Linen, 30 x 25cm
Advice from Realism Painters: Part 1 (Sophie Ploeg) COMING SOON
Advice from Realism Painters: Part 2 (Leslie Watts) COMING SOON
‘Set hours to work, like a job. Work to these hours as much as possible. Don’t be fooled by the lure of not being “in the mood” or waiting for “inspiration”; train yourself to be able to create your art no matter how you feel in yourself. The more you stick to your work times, the easier it’ll be to get going when you’d rather be anywhere else than in the studio, confronted by an empty sheet of paper (and a deadline).’
Advice from Botanical Artists: Part 1 (Lizzie Harper) COMING SOON
Advice from Botanical Artists: Part 2 (Heidi Willis and Shevaun Doherty) COMING SOON
In 2016 Agim Sulaj won the 3rd Derwent Art Prize for his work ‘Refugees’. The drawing depicts an old, battered suitcase, the top of which is adorned with tempestuous waves and a capsizing ship. Desperate drowning souls are seen fighting tooth and nail to climb on board.
The drawing is the finest example of a powerful political comment; the observations from an artist who empathises with the struggles faced by those fleeing their countries in order to seek a better life. Agim Sulaj is an Albanian born artist who now lives and works in Italy, and who has exhibited extensively around the world since 1979. In this interview Agim tells us about how he is revisiting the motif of the suitcase for his 2018 Derwent Art Prize entry, and his excitement for interpreting his drawing ‘Refugees’ as a public sculpture.
‘Refugees’ (Derwent Art Prize 2016 Winner) Agim Sulaj Graphite, 170cm x 150cm
Lisa: How did you develop the idea for drawing ‘Refugees’?
Agim: “Refugees” is typical of my artistic practice. I am also an emigrant and I’ve seen how it is. In leaving my own country I’ve seen very well the difficulties of arriving in a foreign country, and it inevitably affects one’s art. I like the metaphor of the suitcase and have used it numerous times, in fact my entry to the 2018 Derwent Art Prize will also incorporate the theme of the suitcase. The drawing “Refugees” was successful in my country. At the moment I’m in contact with the city of Vlore (in the south of Albania) for the transformation of this drawing into a big sculpture for the harbour of the city, in the place where a lot emigrants start their trips.
‘Sinking Dreams’ Agim Sulaj Oil on canvas, 70cm x 50cm
Lisa: How important was winning the Derwent Art Prize to you?
Agim: Winning the Derwent Art Prize was very important to me, because it meant international appreciation of the work, and also the award is from one of the most famous producer of pencils in the world.
Agim Sulaj in the studio
Lisa: There are many competitions that require online submission these days. How do you feel about your work being judged on a computer screen, as opposed to being judged in the flesh?
Agim: Of course by judging the work in the flesh the judges can access more of the emotion of the works, but it’s understandable that for international art competitions, with so many entries, judging via a computer screen can be very helpful for the initial selections.
‘School Desks’ Agim Sulaj Oil on canvas, 50cm x 60cm
Lisa: Is it important for artists to draw every day, in your opinion? If so why?
Agim:Yes, of course. Working every day in the studio is very important for all artists, because it keeps you trained, like someone that goes every day to a gym.
‘Mother Theresa’ Agim Sulaj Oil on Canvas, 70cm x 80cm
Lisa: What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
Agim:I like many techniques and I like to experiment. My favourites however are oil on canvas and graphite pencil because through these techniques I find it easier to express better my ideas.
‘The Wall’ Agim Sulaj Oil on canvas, 40cm x 55cm
Lisa: You were born in Albania yet now live and work in Italy. How do you think moving to Italy has influenced your art work?
Agim: Moving to Italy helped my art a lot. I studied in Albania at the university of art in Tirana but when I came to Italy I was happy because I could access a lot of museums and exhibitions of famous painters and it has given me the opportunity to learn a lot.
‘Transparency’ Agim Sulaj Oil on canvas, 150cm x 120cm
Lisa: What art work are you most proud of and why?
Agim: There are lots of paintings I have made that are important to me, but ‘Refugees’ is the work I am most proud of at the moment. My favourite changes all the time in accordance with my inspirations and interests. I am always searching for new ideas and am always trying to do better.
‘Immigration’ Agim Sulaj oil on canvas, 120cm x 80cm
Lisa: What are you working on at the moment?
Agim:At the moment I’m working on several competition entries, one of these is for the “Derwent Art Prize 2018”. As I said before I’m also working on a sculpture based on ‘Refugees’ in Albania.
Untitled Agim Sulaj Acrylic on canvas, 50cm x 60cm
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Agim: You can find a lot of my paintings online on my website www.agimsulaj.com. This is the best way. as my works are spread across a lot of different galleries.
‘Winter and Sun’ Agim Sulaj Oil on canvas, 35cm x 45cm
Current Events #11. A selection of UK art exhibitions and events for week 11 of 2018.
(click images for larger view)
Still Life: Lisa Milroy & Jayne Parker
3 March – 18 March 2018
Lisa Milroy, Memory, 2017, oil on canvas, 184 x 233cm
This collaborative exhibition includes film, photography, sculpture and painting. It charts both artists continued interest in material, transformation, the experience of absence and how memory resides within us.
The Longwick Art Show, located between 24th March and 25th March in the Brill Church of England School is an annual display of works by local amateur and professional artists to raise money for the school.
Exhibiting artists include: Ray Styles, Rachel Wright, Rachel Wright, Pauline James, Mike Bowker, Michael York, Marian Carter, Jo Stewart, Jill Blackburn, Jenny Hay, Janet Erskine, Jane Miller, James Scutt, Jadi, Jackie Webb, Irenke York, Helen Willson, Helen Robinson, Glenn Hart, Geoff Johnson, Gareth Hendley, Emma Wheeler, Diane Riddy, David Floyd, Damian Ward, Cynthia Evenden, Chris Dignan, Catherine Henshaw, Catherine Constable, Barry Macey, Anne Hewitt, Anna Kingsnorth, Andy Lee.
Varying Degrees: Peter Wileman
3 March – 24 March 2018
Peter Wileman, A Favourable Breeze, 50x60cm, Oil on Canvas
A solo show of Peter Wileman’s work which uses washes and glazes along with complimentary colours to create depth and mood.
16 March — 21 April 2018
Private View: Thursday 15 Mar, 6–9pm
Lilah Fowler, nth nature
‘A few whiles away: there are roads, roads and roads.
Delicate ribbons of travel, following contours of least resistance. No one believes in landscape anymore; the land becomes landscape becomes map.
Why exactly am I here?’
A collection of new work by Lilah Fowler that looks at the tensions between what we think of as natural and tcyberspace divide in how we designate, chop up and contain within physical locations and cyber space.
JABBERWOCKY: and other nonsense in the here and now
13-18 March 2018
Private View: Thursday 15 March 6-9pm
Cristina Cantilena, Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
‘This exhibition is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’, one of the greatest examples of nonsense literature. The poem’s impressive use of fictitious words and abstract imagery masterfully illustrates a scene of childhood fantasy, in which the monster lurking dangerously in the shadows is finally eliminated. While the narrative itself remains mysterious, the action of overcoming a great evil is undeniable. It is Carroll’s creative reframing of threat and danger through his bewilderingly-named creatures that has elevated the poem to such acclaim.
The show includes a myriad of contemporary messages about playing with fantasy in order to comprehend reality and to defeat menace. This encompasses two-dimensional and three-dimensional artworks (painting, photography, print, mixed media, installation), as well as video/film and performance, all of which may be political, personal or as nonsensical as the poem itself. With the poem as a focus, artists convey impressions of today’s Jabberwocky narrative both figuratively and in abstract forms, drawing from playful and serious perspectives.’
Denise Wyllie, Ida Ndoni, Kevin Derbyshire, Lawrence Mathias,
Les Lismore, Liz Derbyshire, Jonathan Graham, Cristina Cantilena,
Lizy Bending, Ben Mellor, Helen Lack, Elena Rizzardi,
Yolanda Pinto Medina, Verena Giavelli, Sonia Stanbury, Adolfo Solarte (FITO),
Marcos Buarque de Hollanda, Art Hop Life, Marcia Mar,
Andrés González-Meneses, Janet Moses, Naïg Thomé, Meliha Gunenc,
Julia Schoklitsch, Edson Costa, Luciana Mariano
Curated by Ana Cockerill
159 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 7DG
(Just off Brick Lane in East London)
Our ninth Commended Entry for Jackson’s Open Painting Prize has been announced! During the JOPP entry period, we will be commending one entry each week that we think is of exceptional quality. All commended entries are automatically added to the longlist meaning they will be considered for the six Category Prizes, the People’s Choice Award, the Shortlist and the Overall Prize. To submit your work, please go to our Jackson’s Open Painting Prize Website.
Commended Entry: Jessica Rose
Etching on Paper
53 cm x 41 cm x 0 cm
‘Hanwell Locks is a flight of canal gates along a stretch of the Grand Union waterway where I live in West London. I’ve painted this scene – of the locks and trees reflecting in the water – many times and have now painstakingly made an etching of it. I say painstaking because the image had to be carefully transferred onto a copper plate and then the lines and tones created by submerging the plate repeatedly in corrosive chemicals (in my bathroom while wearing goggles and rubber gloves – no proper studio for me!). It’s worth all the effort because there’s nothing like etching for producing deep blacks and an amazing range of tones.’
Jackson’s Judging Panel:
‘Jessica Rose has utilised, wonderfully, the broad spectrum of drawn marks that are possible when making an etching. Her print has a fascinating, almost abstract range of forms, that perfectly capture the refraction of the light as it filters through the greenery onto the canal below. The elegant canal gates provide balance, focus and tonal depth to her print, emphasising a hazy, gentle horizon line. Her work has a soothing atmosphere of natural stillness – you can sense that the trees are softly rustling and that the deep waters are slowly rippling, but the scene is quiet and calm.’
Clever customers of ours for years have been using our free paper cutting service to receive crisp, clean and accurate half and quarter sheets of their favourite watercolour paper sheets. Now, however, we’ve made this service even more convenient. We’ve added a choice in your basket that comes up automatically for all qualifying watercolour papers so that as soon as you’ve selected your paper it can be pre-cut in-house, without you needing to add an order note.
How to use Jackson’s Art Supplies pre-cut watercolour paper service:
Click on your basket and select from the drop down below each sheet if you want a sheet cut in half or in quarters.
Proceed through the checkout process as normal or keep shopping.
Enjoy your specially cut paper without the hassle of cutting it at home.
Screen shot of the watercolour paper cutting option selected for half sized sheets of Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress.
Why get your watercolour paper cut?
The best quality watercolour paper is often only available loose in large Imperial sheets measuring 30 x 22 inches (76 x 56cm) and while this size would make an impressive watercolour painting, it isn’t suitable for all watercolourists. For those who want to work in a smaller scale but still want to use the best watercolour paper available, getting sheets pre-cut means fewer processes to go through when the paper arrives. Choosing ready cut paper gives you the option of how many of each size you want, an option not available when using pads that often contain between 20 to 100 sheets. Using watercolour paper sheets that have been ready cut means you avoid the risk of ending up with small sheets that have damaged edges from pad glue or with roughly cut sheets that have been ineffectively cut at home. We use a guillotine to cut your watercolour paper and will accurately cut your paper to size, meaning you can have the half and quarter sheets you want without any exertion.
We don’t offer this service for our Jackson’s Eco Paper as we have a large variety of sizes and their lovely deckled edges are such a unique feature. Jackson’s Eco papers are made using special small moulds that mean imperial half and quarter sheets of this watercolour paper have four beautifully, deckled edges.