Artist of the Month: January 2012, Trevor Kiernander
This month Ruth catches up with painter Trevor Kiernander to discuss the enduring importance of painting, avoiding trends and embracing awkwardness.
Ruth Wilbur: Why does painting remain important?
Trevor Kiernander: Painting is very important because it can be accessible and direct. You can convey a huge amount both emotionally and expressively through gestural marks on canvas.
RW: How do you research for your paintings?
TK: My research involves collecting. I collect magazines and newspapers, images and stories, and tend to take inspiration from things going on around me. It's a bit of an obsession! Even if I am watching a television programme, if something catches my attention on screen, I will pause the programme and take a photograph of the TV. Two of the paintings I'm currently working on are actually based on images that I pulled from television.
RW: What do you want your paintings to do?
TK: My art should challenge the viewer. I try to tread a fine line where the paintings are accessible, but also a little awkward. I want them to encourage questions and possibilities.
RW: What are you working on at the moment?
TK: I have a solo show coming up in April, and also work showing at the London Art Fair (with Axisweb), so I am working on a number of new paintings. Some of the newer work is more like painted collage. I have been considering the negotiation of space within the confines of the canvas and how I can bring different elements together cohesively.
RW: Yes, I notice that you have brought other materials into your paintings...
TK: Yes, it goes back to the notion of awkwardness - I am experimenting with the idea of more traditional painting jutted up against hard edge abstraction, or unusual materials. I want to bring disparate elements together but still leave a little tension.
RW: What show have you seen recently that made an impact?
TK: I really liked the Wilhelm Sasnal show at the Whitechapel Gallery. I pick up a lot of ideas from the shows and it was funny really, seeing the Sasnal show and his body of work - it made me realise that I may have subconsciously picked up ideas and references from his paintings.
RW: If you could change one thing, what would it be?
TK: I'd like to have more time in the studio. I work full-time and it's difficult to find enough time to make work too.
RW: What advice would you give to artists?
TK: My one piece of advice would be to avoid following trends and instead make art which is for yourself, from yourself. I find that if you create work just because it's what's out there right now, you make it for the wrong reasons and it can never hold up.
Interview by Ruth Wilbur, January 2012
About Trevor Kiernander
Trevor Kiernander is a Canadian artist based at the V22 Workplace, artists' studios in Bermondsey, London. He obtained a BFA in Painting and Drawing with distinction, from Concordia University in Montreal in 2006, and an MFA in Art Practice from Goldsmiths University in 2009.
In 2012, Trevor will be showing work with Axis at the London Art Fair (18 January - 22 January) as well as producing new work for a solo exhibition at Galerie Art Mûr in Montreal, Canada, in April.