He carefully arranges mise–en-scènes, sets, actors, props and lighting to reconstruct an illusion of normality that is understood through mass media. These are then photographed and painted. The paintings are treated as objects among a multi component tableau staged within the gallery in a wider installation. Elements framed within the paintings extend into the space with fabric, paint, neon, sculpture and video work. By expanding the paintings’ mode of presentation, Cumberland is highlighting the process of construction through a method of deconstruction, exploring ideas about the human condition, consumerism, symptoms of mass media, surveillance and control.
What was a pivotal moment at the beginning of your career?
I won a number of portrait awards early on which at the time seemed like a really big deal but looking back I wouldn’t really consider them that important anymore. So probably the most pivotal moment for me to date was five years ago when I made a shift towards working with public art galleries or local regional art centres. I started to introduce installation pieces alongside painting and think about the curation of the exhibition as a whole.
I was just trying to make pieces that felt more meaningful to me, create the best work I possibly could at that point and at least attempt to say something about society and not really worry about the work commercially.
What inspires your art?
I take inspiration from anywhere. Sometimes I will be listening to a audiobook or podcast it could be as simple as a phrase that might spark some idea or similarly a lyric to a song. Maybe it’s an element of an advert or fashion editorial, a scene in a movie an everyday observation anything really, I don’t really try to look for inspiration it just seems to come naturally. When it doesn’t, I have a general process that I will work through creating sets, hiring props, models, selecting colour palettes, lighting etc. and along the way, if I don’t already know, I’ll work out what it is I am trying to say which is usually some unravelling of that process to reveal something about how narratives are constructed and then sold to us.
Who are your biggest influences?
I don’t really have any big influences I like a lot of stuff there is no one particular artist that I continually look at.
How do you structure your day?
My days are pretty similar to a normal work week I will be my studio for around 8am I take an hour for lunch and finish around 5 or 6pm, 5 to 6 days a week.
How do you spend your free time?
When I’m not working or doing general domestic things, I try to spend my free time being more active usually with little success or I record some music, I’ve been into making music from before I started to do art but it’s purely a hobby I just enjoy it, nobody ever hears it.
What things are you looking forward to this year?
Hopefully me and my wife will take a few trips along the west coast of Ireland and do a little surfing, all be it very poorly and I will begin to start a new body of work for a solo exhibition in Leipzig in September 2022 at Josef Filipp Gallery. I’m looking forward to seeing how the work turns out as I have no real plans.
Ian Cumberland – www.iancumberland.com