Hi Audrey, thank you very much for speaking with us about your latest exhibition. Could you tell us a bit about what your exhibition title Paradise means to you?
"Paradise is a word or term that we often use to describe the place or thing we aspire to seek or have, but it also has historic, biblical and physical connections and meanings too. So, I felt it best described the work I wanted to present in this exhibition - the Arcadia landscape paintings and the evocative, expressive female form paintings. Both perhaps allude to a type of ‘paradise’ depending on how the viewer might interpret them. Arcadia, as a real and an imagined landscape where nature is abundant, glorious and where one might lose oneself. The female form and body often represent and misrepresent aspects of the feminine, also where one might lose oneself. "
Here is our Arcadia, Audrey Grant 2020
What inspires you to paint? How do you come up with the ideas for your paintings?
"For me painting is an instinct, a very physical action and process that sort of keeps me sane. The act, the action of painting seems to connect to inner processes and rhythms within the psyche and body and vice versa. So often when beginning a new body of work for an exhibition, there isn’t a specific starting point, one painting leads to another but there is probably a point where you start to feel a connection to the subject and then the real work begins. Often, I am looking for an idea that will underpin a new body of work, it may be from poetry, or an essay, as with this exhibition, Anne Carson’s essay Eros the Bittersweet was obviously a big influence. The ideas then become a sort of movement, a momentum from which to paint, so you have to intend and try to make those connections and ideas visible. It is also a very intuitive process, and of course, the unconscious knows much more than the conscious mind. A good analogy is the iceberg, most of the iceberg is underwater and other tiny amount above water."
Audrey Grant's Studio
You have mentioned before that you are big fan of Kiefer, are there any other artists who inspire you? If you could own any artwork in the world, what would it be and why?
"I think Kiefer is an extraordinary artist, in terms of the scale and diversity of his creative output, his profound understanding of history (personal and collective), philosophy and all the intellectual areas which underpin his work I find deeply inspiring. If I could own any artwork, well there would be so many, but I couldn’t fit a Kiefer in my flat, so maybe a late Auerbach of Primrose Hill or a late Morandi still life - either would be fine!"
Natura morta (Still Life), Giorgio Morandi 1952
Can you tell us about the process of making your paintings?
"The physical process of making the paintings for this exhibition vary. The Arcadia paintings were painted with my hands and with rags. I literally stick my hands (nitrile gloves are worn) in a bucket of paint and lay and drag the paint across the surface of the canvas. I want to feel and immerse myself in the rhythm of nature as I try to paint it, no separation so to speak, it is a very physical process that takes a long time. With the female figures the canvas is often laid horizontally over 4 empty paint tins on the floor, paint is loaded onto large brushes and then there is a similar action of trying to feel the sensation of the female body as I paint it, so it is about feeling, sensation and touch. As the paint builds, I often blot back using newsprint. It is very messy and goes on for a long time as well."
Audrey Grant, Painting Tools
This exhibition is filled with very vibrant colours – how do you choose your colour palette?
"Again, this is quite an intuitive thing but I have been looking a lot at de Kooning over the past few years and my women series are a response to researching his methods and materials as well as his Women paintings. I just love his startling colours; Baseltiz too has been hugely inspired by de Kooning. He did a show a while back called Farewell Bill, at Gagosian. There is such incredible freedom in de Kooning’s work and I suppose I seek and want to experience that too so there is almost an abandon, a risk of losing control, chaos. That is why paintings can go on for a long time, I create, destroy, create, destroy until there is something, coherent looking back. I have digressed a bit here but hopefully you get a sense of what I mean."
Woman I, Willem de Kooning 1950-52
What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
All of the above!
Audrey Grant's Studio
The eCatalogue for Audrey's exhibition Paradise can be viewed here.