In the second of our expert judge interviews for the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2019, we spoke to artist and curator, Andrew Bick. In both his art practice and curatorial work, he explores the complex and ambivalent nature of our relationship to Modernism, as well as working to reconfigure principles of Concrete art in relation to the social impact and sustainability of contemporary art practice. We asked Andrew about his process for making the 2-dimensional mixed media works seen here and his research and writing on the undersung era of British Constructivism. He also provided some excellent, direct and practical advice for artists entering this year’s Jackson’s Open Painting Prize.
Clare: How would you describe your process for making art?
Andrew: It is about asking questions of myself at all stages, based on repetition and both mechanism, and chance occurrences that disrupt that mechanism. It is also about responding to materials and what Systems Artist, Jeffrey Steele, calls “material syntax”.
Clare: I’ve read that the making and breaking of systems and rules is important to your work process. Do you have any self-imposed rules that you absolutely never break in your process, even if you have wanted to?
Andrew: Everything gets broken down or at least shifted at some point – so the reference to systems is constant, but the looseness in relation to it is equally important.
Clare: What informs your choice of colour for an artwork?
Andrew: There are colours that are psychologically important to me from very early in my development at art school. A slightly burnt or “off” orange, deep greens, greys and blues, bright pale yellows, but all high key colours I use are tempered by minute fractions across the different places they occur in the painting, so that no two whites are exactly the same, or no two yellows, etc.
Clare: Are you ever able to predict the outcome of an artwork?
Andrew: With hindsight… i.e. some do follow a predictable process neatly from the beginning, but this is almost never the expected works and the point for me is to always be disrupted by what is happening to the painting, by the need to be reflexive and non-dogmatic with the elements that get out of control.
Clare: I’ve read that your work is informed by British Constructivism. Can you talk about the idiosyncrasies of the British perspective on the constructivist movement and how these inform your practice, if at all?
Andrew: Impossible to give a short answer to this but I have written and curated on their work and quite a bit of this can be found online. They are under-known and under-valued, but by being both rigorous and not falling in to a very British cliche of romanticising the intuitive or the landscape, their work fits a powerful international tradition of concrete art from Brazil to Switzerland, from Helio Oiticica and Lygia Clarke through to Max Bill, Verena Loewensburg, Richard Paul Lohse etc. Key figures to look up are Kenneth and Mary Martin, Anthony Hill, Gillian Wise and Jean Spencer, but there are more great artists in this British grouping and much of their significant work was done in from the late 1950s through to the early 1980s.
Clare: What, for you, has been the most exciting moment or shift in non-representational art in the last 5 years?
Andrew: Hard to pinpoint a single moment, but the increasing fluidity across painting and film of figures such as A K Dolven and Edit Dekynt is key, as is the general resurgence in considering geometric and constructive processes as part of the contemporary – though with the latter I wish artists knew more about the legacies.
Clare: What are you working on currently?
Clare: For the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2019, what will you be looking for in the entries submitted?
Andrew: Artists who understand the roots of their work but still have the confidence to take risks, also painters capable of being humorous and serious at the same time.
Clare: Do you have any advice for artists considering entering our competition?
Andrew: Get a trusted colleague to help you decide what work to submit.
Clare: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Feeling inspired? Check out the competitions website here: www.jacksonspaintingprize.com for more information or to enter the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2019.