Sunday, January 11, 2009

Garth Steeper

Went to an opening last night (that paintings weren't very good no needn't bother letting you know whose it was) but it reminded me of some wonderful artists I interviewed for Vice last year that never got published. Or maybe they did... I thought the Henrietta Harris interview never ran but it was published in the American Vice, so who knows...


Garth Steeper might need counselling one day, but today just hates Internet caf├ęs

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE RENAISSANCE AESTHETIC THAT YOU LIKE?
Dutch Painters. I’ve been obsessed with Rembrandt for a very long time. They use a lot of black, especially in their backdrops. Then again kiwi painters do too, do you know Colin Mcahon’s work? Master of blacks, kinda bogan in its own right. The texture those Old Masters achieved with layers, real chunky fuckin amazing. Once I was in the Louvre and I walked into a room entirely furbished with Rembrandts, and got such a shock at how absolutely ragingly good it was I accidentally yelled out FUCK! real loud and got a barrage of French evils.

DO YOU MOSTLY USE OILS?
Yeah strictly oils and heaps of mediums, the works are all comprised of masses of thin layers. Oils are endless, you discover something new with them every time you use them. I especially use a medium called Gel Fragonard, sounds hot eh. If they took that stuff of the market I would literally be fucked. I used acrylics a bit at art school when I was doing this massive hessian piece but to be honest I hate them now. Just like preparatory drawings - don’t believe in those.

YOUR PAINTINGS ARE GROTESTQUE AND UNNERVING- BODIES ARE DISFIGURED, PERSPECTIVE SKEWED… WHAT’S WITH THAT?
I always warp figures, classic expressionist technique gets that real angular disturbing quality, very German I think. I’m doing this interview in the dodgiest internet cafe it literally smells like wet dog and there playing that fuckwit James Blunt its really distracting and making me angry.....there’s also a German girl sitting next to me screaming to her mate a few computers along, in my ear, in German, its really fitting. But honestly no matter how hard I try to avoid it (not that I ever really do try to avoid it) the paintings always come out morbid.

MAYBE ONE DAY YOU’LL NEED TO GET HELP?
Dunno, maybe! Have you ever heard of a painter called Odd Nerdrum?

NOPE…
That is some bizarre carry on right there… check out his painting 'morning at shitrock' he really lives up to his name.

DO YOU WANT YOUR PAINTINGS TO GROSS PEOPLE OUT?
No not at all I just kinda fell into that imagery. I couldn’t ever paint differently, I’m definitely not a landscape painter. Not gross out, maybe unsettle or disturb. I guess that gives them a power and presence which is what every painter wants. Have you seen much of Francis Bacons work? Some people find them really gross or as horror images, but really they’re just brilliantly unsettling. He really was a genius, and he used to paint only in the mornings hungover as fuck, after pissing it up all night in soho.

ARE A LOT OF YOUR PAINTINGS SELF PORTRAITS?
I did those ones recently because they say its the true test of a painter whether your brushes can pull off a successful one. A brilliant kiwi painter called Tony Fomison said ''you’re only as good as your self portraits, can you be honest about yourself on canvas." It really is fuckin hard though. When I look at them I cant help cracking up, and whenever I show friends they piss themselves. My sister laughed so hard she cried when she saw them so yeah they’re a troublesome undertaking.

WHO BUYS YOUR WORK?
Various private collectors, and the Wallace Arts Trust helps me out a lot. I swap work a lot too - my personal collections getting pretty fuckin nice actually. I’m always quite surprised at what sells. I finish so many works going ‘yep, never sell it’ but then eventually you do. I think people see them as more collectors items rather than nice wallpaper which is alright.

CAN YOU MAKE ENOUGH MONEY PAINTING?
Fuck you can’t! Even massively successful ones always still seem to be skint. It’s tough, you gotta be in it for the long haul and completely accept that you’ll always be poor. Its fucked too because art supplies are so expensive, you just work on whatever you can get your hands on. Hessians good, its 4 bucks a square meter and it looks raw as fuck.

SO WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Some people are just born with that obsession. A hell of a lot of people are in love with the idea of being an artist but not prepared to do any work. Like at art school sooooo mmuuuuuuch ssshhhhiiithouse dreamers not necessarily without talent just severe lack of ideas.

HEY I GOOGLED YOU AND THERE IS FUCK ALL INFORMATION ANYWHERE…
Yeah I’m completely computer illiterate…old fashioned! I really do need to get a website though you guys should make me one I’ll give you a painting, go on do it!

MIGHT DO THAT NOW. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TODAY?
Just finished work – get very drunk

ENJOY
Thanks!

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