Daniel Segrove is a young artist whose body of work challenges the limitations of traditional drawing and painting through processes of destruction, distress and balance. By leaving classically pivotal chunks of information out of his images, he creates work that generate a unique visual language, pulling together quotidian settings and abstract feelings. Jackson’s caught up with him before the opening of his new show, ‘mundanity’, at the Robert Kananaj Gallery, Canada.
Debbie Chessell: What is your definition of drawing? Where do you think the boundary between drawing and painting lies?
Daniel Segrove: For me, drawing is a great way to explore ideas in the moment. It can be very spontaneous and gestural, and at the same time you can do more time invested rendering to create the illusion of three-dimensional forms. In my work I really enjoy trying to capture the full range of versatility you can achieve with drawing mediums. Combining both sporadic lines and movement contrasted with realistic rendering in other areas.
I try not to have too many boundaries in the studio. I often try to intertwine the two mediums; most of my work is mix media exploring the balance between color and texture of paint and value, line, and form of drawing. I have a lot of fun trying new mediums and techniques that I usually can’t wait to start combining them to see the results and expand my visual vocabulary.
I saw on your Instagram that you work in both oils and charcoal; is working in paint a different kind of knowledge to charcoal or do they influence each other?
To me painting is more related to sculpture then it is to drawing. I often find myself pushing and pulling the paint around, more carving strokes, focusing on planes and direction. A lot like the techniques you find in sculpture; however the link between drawing and painting would have to be more in the earlier stages of the line drawing with the brush, and thin block-ins. Not to mention having color adds a complete and different dynamic than just thinking about value as with drawing. Although I think they do inspire each other when I work, I try to link my drawings and paintings together aesthetically more then technically. Although they have different executions, I do have the same destination for them conceptually, exploring the boundaries of balance and when something is truly finished.
Would you call your process of distressing and damaging your work drawing? Would you ever make work that was purely created using this method of mark making?
I would call the distressing marks drawing as well, because those are integral to the piece as a whole. Also it’s another way to explore mark making on a two dimensional surface which is what drawing is to me at its core. I do have some drawings where there is more distress on the paper than there is of a rendered image, although I have never explored doing a drawing that is solely made through distressing the surface, which could be something to explore in the future!
I particularly love your series of works depicting figures in mundane environments such as at the table or swimming in the pool. Adding this level recognisable context around your human subjects seems like an unusual practice for you – what attracted you to making these works rather than your normal, more fragmented pieces?
I was attracted to painting because I wanted to explore more environmental composition. With my drawings they are more focused on texture and space, while with paintings I’ve always been attracted to the shapes and color harmonies. While I still do have some links to my drawings aesthetically, like negative space and a sort of raw texture; I find myself more focused on shapes in my paintings then my drawings. I’m trying to figure out how to create an unorthodox balance in my paintings; trying to take some mundane/overlooked scenes and make them more visually striking.
How do you know when a work is finished?
For me that is one of my main focuses and boundaries I try to push. Often times my work can look unfinished in a traditional sense, but at the same time feel finished the way it is. This is the area of work I love to explore, this balanced “incompleteness.” However for me, a work is finished when what I try to capture with the mood, composition, and visual rhythm is there; even if that means the whole surface isn’t covered in paint or fully rendered. Adding more to a work doesn’t always make it better for me, I often find myself taking more paint off then putting on at times.
Do you have a favourite brand and format of charcoal?
I tend to use General’s Charcoal, although I believe that it’s more about the knowledge than it is about the material. Once you understand how to render form you can pretty much do it with any medium or brand.
What’s an ideal day in the studio for you?
An ideal day in the studio is one where I have that “ah-hah” moment, the visual breakthrough where I can see my work and myself growing. The satisfaction of taking a chance with my artwork and fighting the complacency of staying in the artistic areas I already know.
Is there anywhere we can see more of your work in the flesh or online? Do you have any projects coming to fruition?
Yes you can, I have a solo show at Robert Kananaj Gallery in Toronto, Canada that is opening October 12th, and will be up until November 11th. You can also go to my website www.danielsegroveart.com or on my Instagram account @dsegrove where I try to upload work frequently.