Artist in Focus: Paul Edmondson
Hi Paul, what are some of your favourite experiences as an artist?
I enjoy trying to create something new, something different. I might do one or a series of pieces but then it’s time to move on to a new challenge. When I was doing performance pieces I used to enjoy the experience of going on stage, feeling the atmosphere of menace and violence and trying to work with it.
What kind of performance art did you do?
I suppose my performance art is influenced by early Iggy Pop, Dada and Stuart Brisley who was my external assessor for my degree show. There’s always some element of performance whether it be jumping through hoops for the gallery system or sitting up and begging for Arts Council grants.
Prefer to work with music or silence?
Silence. If I had to listen to anything it would probably be David Sylvian or Brian Eno.
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
Don’t come any closer. I’ve got a brush and I’m not afraid to use it.
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
I like to reinterpret accepted visual language, put my own spin on it and subvert it. Hopefully creating something new and interesting.
How did you get into art?
I had a great art teacher, Harold Ratcliffe (Harry Rat), who allowed me to skip drawing classes and read books on art history and theory instead. I learned that the art that interested me was about ideas not technique. This was around 1975 so it fitted in with the ethos of the burgeoning punk movement.
How do you go about making a painting?
It’s not always about painting. It could be a photography, sound, video….. whatever. It’s finding the best way to create something from an idea.
What’s the weirdest response you’ve ever had to a piece?
I was once commissioned by an Elvis impersonator to do a portrait of one of his fans. The lady in question was really overweight but I managed to slim her down and lose a few chins. When her husband saw the final result he said that I’d made his wife look fat, “Elvis” agreed and I never got paid.
3 main influences?
Duchamp, early Rauschenberg, Warhol, Punk.
Most influencial exhibitions…..
New York Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, London 1987
Ildefonso Aguilar, Centro De Arte La Regenta, Gran Canaria, 2006
Do you wish the place of art would change in society?
I suppose you mean in the UK where, as a generalization, you have the London- centric asset based art world and the slightly looked down upon provincial art scene outside. I think that will gradually change due to the dispersion of artists due to high rents in the capital. Having lived in Spain for 18 years I know artists get more respect there and Madrid isn’t seen as the art capital.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Wear stout shoes, travel light and don’t put too much faith in the weather forecast.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it?
It’s like a crossword puzzle, you’ve just got to find the clues and fill in the spaces.
If you were given the Turbine Hall what would you do?
Fill the air vents with laughing gas and stage a Tracey Emin exhibition.