Recently I had the opportunity to ask Joseph Loughborough a few questions about his work and inspiration. If you’re not familiar with Joseph’s work yet you can check out a selection in this feature from last November or his website. Enjoy!
Bleaq: Hi Joseph! Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions :) Let’s start at the beginning: could you tell Bleaq’s readers a bit about yourself and your work? How did you start your career as an artist?
The work i make is usually expressive and figurative with dark psychological undertones. Philosophy has always spurred and oiled the mechanics of my creative process. My artists statement covers a little of its intricacies. If you want to know more track me down and buy me a beer.
Ironically i have the recession in the UK to thank for helping me ‘make the jump’ to full time art work. I was always making work before and working part time to help things along. When all the part time staff in the bar i worked at were given the boot at the start of the crisis i just focused all my energies into my work and it went from there.
Your biography mentions you were born in Portsmouth, UK. Lately you’ve been working in Paris and Berlin. Do you like travelling? And does the place where you live inspire your work?
Yeah travelling is great! Each place feels like a new start and a fresh atmosphere to live in! I believe that living in a new place changes the process in which you make work.
For instance the journey to the studio often affects the mood i’m in when i arrive. At the moment i share a studio with David Walker in a huge old GDR radio station (Funkhaus) in an industrial area of east Berlin. The tram ride takes you through a semi abandoned world of factories and dilapidated buildings. It Looks over the river Spree to a derelict amusement park formally run by GDR gangsters! In a different way these decaying places remind me of Portsmouth when i was growing up. Berlin is a really enigmatic place to work.
On your website you mention artists who’ve inspired you: Egon Schiele, Frank Auerbach, Käthe Kollwitz and Alberto Giacomettu. Can you tell how these people influence you and your work?
Egon Schiele was one of the first artists i remember from my child hood. My gramps had a big old Egon Schiele book in his collection. Its probably one of oldest memories connected to art. As a six year old i was pretty shocked to see the graphic nature of his work. The skeletal figures ,vaginas and phalluses. I was pretty stoked as well. The other book from the same shelf was one by Edward Gorey, The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Im pretty sure he has had a significant influence too. The others are favourites from later years. They interest me specifically in the way they deal with the human form and the artistic frequency they resonate at.
– By Egon Schiele. Source.
The influence of the earlier mentioned expressionists can be seen in your work, especially your recent work. It differs quite a bit from your earlier work, in which I spot some cubism-references as well. How do you think your work evolved through the years?
Well i experimented with lots of different forms of image making earlier on and still now! I like to encompass previous experimentation with current work. Some times i get frustrated with what i’m making and make a few paintings/drawings in an old or experimental style. This rejuvenates the working process. All previous dabbling usually gets thrown into the melting pot and emerges with a twist at some point or another.
Can you remember a piece of art you’ve seen as a kid which really impressed you?
Aside from egon it has to be Francis Bacons Pope. When i was a little older about 12/13 i remember a fascination Grunwalds crucifixion triptych too. Aside from the fact it is a particularly grotesque and angsty painting (which have always appealed to my morbid sense of curiosity) i loved the composition within the frames. Working within a triptych and other forms of regimented series still helps me make work. Bacon utilized this method also.
– ‘Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X’ by Francis Bacon. Source.
You practise quite a lot of different techniques: from charcoal and spray-paint on paper to oil on canvas. Do you have a favourite technique?
At the moment im really into seeing how far i can go with charcoal. I feel i can really let myself be free in terms of expression but still hold the reigns of control within the media.
In earlier interviews you’ve mentioned you enjoy skateboarding. How does skateboarding and the skateboarding culture influence your work?
Skateboarding culture is hard to define as it embraces so many different cultures. From Hip hop to Death metal. I guess skating around graffiti all your life is going to influence you at some point. I went through an amateur tagging period and ended up doing lots of black and white drawings around Portsmouth before the ‘street art’ scene reared its head just after 2002.
The biography on your website mentions that besides your work as an artist you’re also the artistic director of a theatre production company. Can you tell a bit more about that job, and how you are able to combine this with your work as an artist?
I worked with and helped develop Cheekish productions with a good friend Phillip Whiteman in London for a few years! Its been a while since i have worked with theatre though with all the travelling the past few years! Its something i would like to get back into in Berlin when i have the next few shows out the way!
What do you enjoy most of being an artist?
Being able to scour the insides of your imagination, learning about yourself and others through a practice. Scraping by doing something you love and can share. And not having to get up in the morning ;)
You have an active online presence: your website is up-to-date and you’re active on Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. How important is the internet for you as an artist?
As i have stated in previous interviews the net is a fantastic promotional tool but at the same time its an endless proliferation of images and work which can significantly devalue what is special about art. Saying this, there are so many fantastic artists that i would not have discovered and am actually good friends with now if i were not for internet.
While being on the subject internet anyway, can you share a few websites you visit daily?
After the usual hotmail and Fb check its usually a few tumblr blogs. Maybe Trasher Magazine if im going for a skate and wanna get hyped.
Last summer you had an solo exhibition called ‘The anatomy of strangers’ in London. Can you tell us what you’re working on now, and if we can expect any exhibitions in the near future?
I’m in the final stages of preparing for a solo show in San Jose in cali which opens on the 1st march called ‘Deciphering the ash of effigies’. Then another solo in France for May. Then looks like a few group shows in UK for the end of the year!
Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
I have been reading lots of Henry Miller at the moment and really enjoying it. I like the bar fly grittiness mixed in with philosophical digressions and prose. The rhythm of the writing is great. Last good film was ‘Incendies’. Heavy stuff.
That’s all, thanks!
Thanks a lot for reading. And once again thanks to Joseph for taking time to answer all my questions! :) If you happen to be in San Jose next month you can check out Joseph’s solo exhibition at the Anno Domini Gallery. Have a nice weekend!