Nicolas Ruston , a British artist, most recognised for his silicone and mixed media works, is exhibiting his newest work in LIBRARY from 1st of September till 29th of October. For this occasion we asked him few questions about his art.
Talk us through your creative process
It can differ from project to project; Sometimes an idea jumps out at me that I know I need to explore. This can be sparked by a news feature - for example in the past I have made work based on news articles reporting the race between Japanese and American companies to acquire patents to human DNA sequences for future development and marketing. The resulting work was a combination of paintings, installations and video. For another exhibition I made a room sized installation based on news footage of Joseph Fritzl’s dungeon.
I also get ideas by sifting through research material, I recently read through every article ever written in Frieze magazine covering the subject of advertising and mass media.
For The End the first glimmers of the idea came from a number of different sources. One of the triggers that started me along the path to creating The End was a line in Ashley Stokes Novel ‘Touching the Starfish’: ‘I hate the bit at the end where everyone gets together and the loose ends are tied together and all the conflicts are wrapped up nice and simply, and everyone loves each other now.’
Once my source material is prepared through a combination of sketching, collage, photographic manipulation and design. I start the process of making. In the case of The End I apply layers of household gloss to canvas then cover with masonry paint, which is dried slightly until it thickens, I then scratch into the surface with a surgical blade, this final process has to be quick. If the masonry paint dries fully before I complete, I can longer make marks, so the painting would be discarded. This forces me to paint with the type of adrenaline that a combination of panic, passion and anger creates - this helps me to achieve impressionistic mark making.
What inspires your work?
My past involvement as a creative in TV and film and my current role as creative director of an ad agency is a big influence. I’m also a huge fan of film - the fifteen black and white paintings have the qualities of movie stills. The canvases also respond to the work of the conceptual artist Victor Burgin by combining photograph-like images and text. I’d liked Burgin’s series Gravida and Olympia (1982) where he forced the viewer to draw connections and to create stories out of the interaction between visual and textual elements. In The End project, I wanted push this idea further.
Another key inspiration for The End is the work of the Swiss cartoonist Thomas Ott, in particular his book The Number 73304 – 23 – 4153 – 6 – 96 – 8. This had partly influenced my return to black and white painting in 2011 with my solo exhibition Propensity Modelling. Ott’s sequence of black and white illustrations without any dialogue reminded me of the frames of a melancholy black and white movie. My idea of collaborating with writers to produce a book inspired by the paintings harks back to the golden age of low budget exploitation filmmaking. I’d heard, that during the sixties studios would approach a screenwriter, give him a pitch, a poster and a title and send him off to write the film.
Tell us something no one else knows about you?
A few years ago I was offered a full-time job by Merlin Studios to come up with theme park ride ideas and designs for Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. At the time I was interested in pursuing this as I’d had a vivid dream about an apocalyptic theme park and wanted to re-create this as a fully working art installation (I obviously didn’t mention this at interview). The interview comprised of coming up with a theme park concept on the spot then sketching the concept all within 10 minutes – followed by a pitch presentation to the directors. It went well and I was offered the position, it seemed like a fantastic place to work and the team was great - though I declined the offer for a Creative Director position at an advertising agency.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now where would it be and why?
I’ve always wanted one of those industrial spaces in New York as a studio space as I love working in the city. Its over 10 years since I was there. The last time I went for a few months and visited every gallery, studio and private view I could find in New York, Brooklyn and Dumbo. I’d be curious to see how the art scene has changed since then and meet up with some of my artist friends.
What can we expect from your exhibition at LIBRARY?
The End will feature a new series of paintings, fifteen canvases, identical in their dimensions and completed in my signature style – a unique technique of scratched gloss and masonry paint.
I wanted to examine and interrogate the notion of ‘the end’ by exploring how an art form can operate through different media, and how one group of artists interprets the others’ form. A resulting book entitled The End: Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings, will be launched on the evening, published by Unthank Books, as well as an exhibition catalogue featuring an essay by art critic and journalist Sue Hubbard.
Nicolas Ruston- The End: Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings, in LIBRARY from 1st of September till 29th of October
Members free, non-members please request a day-pass