Artist of the Month: May 2012, Jonathan Kipps
This month Ruth catches up with artist Jonathan Kipps to discuss categorising art, the Southend art scene and parallels between art and music.
Ruth Wilbur: I've seen you descibed as a painter but also a sculptor. How do you feel about your work being categorised?
Jonathan Kipps: People like to categorise art into disciplines - I guess historically this has always happened. In my opinion the most interesting contemporary art incorporates or references ideas from all disciplines to some extent. In my work, formal sculptural concepts such as the weight, space and materiality of objects are considered in relation to the composition, tone and perspective of individual elements and planes. Strengthening the dialogue between two and three-dimensional space is something I’m focusing on at the moment and I've started working on a new series of drawings depicting flattened three-dimensional objects.
Jonathan Kipps, Stack, 2012
RW: What's the art scene in Southend like?
JK: The key to Southend is that it's close enough to visit the London galleries regularly but far enough away to make it a little easier to get your own projects off the ground. Artists based here engage with the London art scene but also enjoy the freedom, space and lower living costs that Southend offers.
RW: You were heavily involved in setting up Southend's first artist-led project space CoExist Galleries at TAP (Temporary Arts Project); what impact has TAP had on Southend?
JK: Yes, I was involved in setting up TAP and was Curator and lead Project Manager there for the first three years. TAP is an old waterworks and the huge space enabled us to have a gallery/project space and a screening room as well as studios. It took a lot of tough (unpaid) graft to get the space fit for use and we worked hard to bring some really interesting artists to the town and show them alongside great artists based in Southend. There are so many benefits to linking galleries with studios and I really think it has put Southend's own artists on the national map. Recently new spaces and projects have been popping up and although there's still a long way to go, I feel fortunate to have been a part of Southend's development and to have worked with such passionate people.
RW: And now you are setting up a new series of events?
JK: Yes, an artist friend of mine Stuart Bowditch and I are in the process of organising a series of events under the name UN-* (UNhyphen). The idea is to bring artists and musicians together for one-off events in unusual spaces. They are purely about giving people the opportunity to get to know an artwork and a sound piece, enjoy the relationship between the two and experience it all in a place that is neither gallery nor a concert venue. The events are not reliant on the framework of an institution or any substantial funding, which means we can be flexible and spontaneous, occupying unusual buildings at short notice.
RW: Tell me more about your interest in music?
JK: I am interested in the different ways art and music are experienced. Music is very much about a moment - it only exists when it is being played. Yet a painting, for example, is there all the time and is a fixed experience. Our reaction to media which change in front of us is very different to reactions when viewing a fixed object, although both can be very powerful experiences.
I like the idea that there are lots of punk bands in the world who all have a similar sound, yet all manage to define their own sound in some way. In the same way there are many artists who use paint, canvas and wood as their materials, but ultimately all manage to make something that is their own. The UN-* events could be seen as experiments into ways of experiencing static and time-based stimulus at the same time.
RW: In 2010 you designed the album sleeve for Get Cape Wear Cape Fly – how did that come about?
JK: When I was younger I was in a band with Sam Duckworth who these days is better known for his band Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. We did a lot of growing up together, creatively, and kept in contact over the years. In 2010 he was working on a new album and he wanted to try something unusual, so asked me to design the album sleeve. Although my focus is now on art rather than music, Sam and I still have a similar approach to making and Sam liked the idea of having a sculptural artwork as part of the album. The finished sleeve folded into the sculpture pictured on the album cover.
RW: Who/what influences you?
JK: I've been lucky enough to work with lots of interesting artists by inviting them to exhibit at TAP. Artists tackle the space in different ways and being involved in these shows has profoundly affected the way I work with spaces myself. A few highlights have been Chloe Brooks, John Wallbank, Craig Fisher,Phyllida Barlow, Fiona MacDonald and Katie Surridge.
RW: What was the last exhibition you saw which really inspired you?
JK: The Painting Show at Eastside Projects in Birmingham was great: paintings hung on paintings. Their ‘map’ (which was really a description of where the work was placed) immediately forced the viewer to think about the way they are encountering the work. Phyllida Barlow’s show RIG at Hauser & Wirth was amazing too (sorry that’s two shows!).
Interview by Ruth Wilbur, May 2012
In June Jonathan will be exhibiting at Cool Diabang in Amsterdam before starting an MFA at the Slade (School of Art).
About Jonathan Kipps
Jonathan Kipps is an artist based in Southend-on-Sea. He states: 'I like to think of my practice as painting without setting out to paint'. Kipps uses the weight of canvas, the characteristics of a surface and paint to create his structures.