How do you choose the subjects for your paintings?
I work from a studio at the back of our house in Ireland. I live with my wife and our two young children. The studio is literally a few feet from the house so the infiltration of the home and my family into my work is inevitable. There are times as a painter when it can be difficult to settle on an approach or a subject to deal with. I have dealt with my family and the interior architecture of our home. They are the vehicle I use to begin paintings and feed the process in the studio. The subject is only the beginning of the work for me.
What are some of the steps you take before you paint?
Over long periods of working in the studio, you begin to develop your own superstitions and idiosyncrasies. Before I paint, but not always, I like to do some mundane tasks around the house, cleaning dishes, mowing the lawn, that kind of thing. It stops me from thinking too erratically and sets my mind. Painting is an act of extreme mental gymnastics if you’re engaged in the process properly. I’ve also developed a religious discipline of cleaning brushes and equipment regularly. Like a chef who cleans down after service, a painter should acquire this discipline and give the materials the respect they deserve.
What are your workdays like?
My wife Michelle and I have two young children, Hannah and Jude. We both work hard so our days are timed to an almost military campaign. I usually drop the children off to creche around 9 am, and I’m ready to work by 9.30 with a coffee in hand. I work solidly in the studio in the morning and sometimes mid morning I’ll do some gardening in between painting. I work until 5 pm every day and if there are shows or deadlines approaching I’ll work late into the evenings. I relish it and have made the studio a place I want to go to, at all times.
What does your work aim to say?
I’ve never seen my work as saying something or to act like a soapbox for my opinions, political, social, or otherwise. I’m only interested in opening avenues for people to read their own narratives through the work. I like ambiguity in the imagery and I foster it. Knowing the aim of an artwork is a bit crazy and leads to a Cul de sac in the mind of the audience.
Do you read non-artbooks?
Ha! I tend not to read artbooks! They distract me. I have some on the shelf but I don’t have much time for them. I’m reading America, by Jean Baudrillard at the moment. A fellow Irish artist Glenn Fitzgerald recommended it. It’s a poignant read for the times we are living through at the moment and a great insight into an incredible country.
2020, What will we see?
I’ve just released a book published with my gallery in Berlin, GNYP Gallery. Titled Bread ( and other paintings ). It’s an overview of paintings I’ve made in the last five years with great essays by writer Ari Akkermans and artist David Harrison. It is on sale through the gallery’s website! I also have three solo shows on the horizon, the first in Canvas Malibu, California in 2020, then with Annarumma Gallery, Napoli, Italy and finally with Signs Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey in 2021. I have got a lot to juggle but I tend to forget deadlines when I’m pottering about my garden and painting in my shed.
Brian Harte – www.brianharte.ie