Artist Q & A: Jamie Evrard
1) Your practice is primarily focused on floral painting, what about this subject matter, if anything, draws you to it and continues to inspire abstraction and formal experimentation?
Their variety of shape and colour, fragility and emphemerality.
2) What prompted the introduction of negative space and white ground in your paintings? How does it inform your work and what is its significance?
My brushwork tends to be impulsive and full of energy and which can lead to overcrowded paintings with nowhere for the eye to rest so space can be a place for the viewer to rest and to exercise one's own imagination. I love to look at Chinese landscape paintings where brush marks often hang suspended in white. A slightly under painted piece can be better than one which has been “finished off".
3) Could you enlighten us about how your compositions start, how many iterations they go through before they’re considered ‘finished’ (i.e. flipping the canvas, erasing, painting over, overpainting etc.)?
My compositions start in all kinds of ways, I don’t have a set method. Some paintings, the lucky ones, come right away and are finished in a couple of sessions. But this is rare. Often I paint right over a previous painting which is kind of like some sort of seeking revenge. A painting I’m not satisfied with will sit in my studio until I feel sufficiently removed from it to attack it again, often upside down which is especially freeing. Destruction, which is both satisfying and frightening, can play as big a part in a painting as creation. Many paintings never see the light of day.
4) Over the course of your career, you’ve transitioned from painting from still life arrangements to painting from photographs, how do you find these two approaches differ?
When I work from photos I don’t have to hurry up and get the thing done before the petals fall off and I have all the time I want I can take more liberties with the composition. The one step remove that a photo gives means I can better see the shapes and colours as an abstraction. I can also meld subject matter from several photos into one canvas.
5) Along the lines of the previous question: you often paint multiple paintings from the same photograph, could you describe how each piece and the experience of painting each piece is related or distinct from one another?
Each time I paint another piece from the same photo I need to find something new in it and to explore the possibilities for abstraction more and more. Since I am seldom if ever perfectly satisfied with a painting I often want to have another go. Riffing off the same subject again and again and getting to know its possibilities better is satisfying.
6) What kind of material properties have you observed through the act of painting? How does your handling of paint or your perception of form change as you paint?
Material properties…..hmmm. Gravity and drips, gloopiness, butteriness? A comforting smell. The more I paint the more I am possessed by the qualities of the paint.
7) This new work demonstrates some new palettes for you—are there particular pigments or contrasts that are exciting you these days?
The Unforeseeable Fuschia which I always thought was a cheap trick. I love the aubergine colour that the shrieky pthalo green can create with Alizarin Crimson.
8) How would you say your work has developed in the past ten years and how do you see it evolving in the future?
The gesture is getting more and more important in the work and I seem to be getting up closer and closer to the flowers. Also I like to paint bigger and bigger. Like most artists I have no clue as to where I am going. Painting is a leap into the unknown.