Her works are characterised by frantic and spontaneous scratching, mark-making and gesture, layering, and sometimes references to popular iconography. Her compositions are formed with the push and pull of textured and layered gestures and marks washed with white, to huge contrasting heavy shapes dominating the pieces. Her ethereal and subtly layered hues ask you to get closer, to go deeper, and are reminiscent of the ethos of minimalism, contrasted by huge sweeping gestural line work seen in Abstract Expressionism. These visual elements mark traces of narratives, happenings, experiences, and memories layering onto each other. Influenced by the milieu of a city and the patina of street culture her works probe and echo the nuances of city life. The artist’s work is evocative of textured walls layered with graffiti, buffing, posters and the grime of the city; evoking a sense of transience both in a mental scape in terms of memory, and physically as the passage of time leaves its mark.
Developing an abstract language; she materialises an inner aura while referencing experiences such as restless adolescent boredom and living in Toronto’s urban core.
Which style influences your work?
Stylistically I am drawn to abstract expressionism, art informel, and abstract minimalism. ‘Post vandalism’ and ‘future primitive’ are terms I have seen and resonate with. I’m fascinated by and draw influence from the city I live in and its saturation of visual input. Tangled wires, the light that falls down narrow allies, layering of tags and graffiti, how the different styles stand beside each other and the buffing and layering that creates a patina of urban culture. I like to work freely and then slowly subtract certain elements from the works. I often embed abstract symbols and characters into my works. I also tend to experience romanticised nostalgia of the city I grew up in. I am intrigued by moments such as flower heads poking out from a chain fence as you walk by, the sun reflected into your eyes as you pass a window, the reflection of neon signs in puddles, the compelling mosaic of tags and graffiti.
What does your work process look like?
Generally, I start on the ground, applying materials freely with gestures, shapes, mark making etc. Walking around the canvas, standing over it, sitting on the ground beside it, I try to engage in a flow state and play with shapes and textures. In this way, it is very visceral as the body is included in the work through the movement it takes to create the gestures. In the early stages, it’s very organic, splashes, spills and sometimes debris add to the natural process and treatment of the work. It starts with intuition and gradually becomes more refined and intentional. It’s easy to start a work but finding a resolution is very difficult and sometimes I will leave a painting for weeks or even months until I am ready to come back to it. I build layer upon layer, each layer containing different symbol-like markings, creating an abstract language that can be seen advancing and receding. Sometimes identifiable imagery is seen in reference to nostalgic memories of adolescence. This touches on ideas around memory and identity and how both of these are malleable and often change over time. I usually work on multiple canvases at once, and they sort of talk to and inform each other.
I build layer upon layer, each layer containing different symbol-like markings, creating an abstract language that can be seen advancing and receding.
Toronto and Barcelona. What do the cities have in common?
They feel quite different from each other but I love that they both have vibrant and emerging creative communities- whether it be musicians, designers, or local and underground art galleries, happenings, and the fusion of all forms. I am curious about what happens in the margins of everyday life; the subcultures and underground social and creative networks in these cities. I think they are both cities which don’t immediately come to mind in the way that NYC, LA or London would in terms of the art scenes but there is definitely a lot that is going on and up and coming in both cities, so that’s something really cool to experience. They both feel like a brewing pot of really amazing emerging talent and ideas.
What have you done today?
I am lucky, because today I started my day with coffee and music before I went out to walk around Barcelona in the sunshine, collecting materials for the day ahead at my studio. At the studio I move between working on paintings, stretching and preparing canvases, reading, and writing. In the evening I will have a drink with a friend.
Party or go to bed early?
This is so hard because I am such a morning person but I love a good boogie 🙂
Swimming in Suburbia. How do you spend your leisure time?
Now I’m swimming in the city! When I’m not alone in the studio I’m usually with friends. I love to be in the sea- it energises yet calms me. I love to go dancing. I go to gallery openings and gatherings. I want to live a big life and have memorable experiences with interesting people- for me that means being in nature, dancing, having good food and wine with good company. Music is such an important aspect of my practice and life, and I’m always seeking the next adventure. I love to wander around cities, especially ones that are new to me, and getting a bit lost. There’s just so much to see. I do love a rainy day curled up with a book and tea.
What’s next in 2020?
I currently have plans to exhibit new works in Barcelona and collaborate with some people so I’m grateful for that, and it’s a nice way to approach the ending of this year. I plan to enjoy the moment and try to be as involved as possible at events, and hopefully collaborate for some future works. I think now more than ever community is so important, so we have to find a way to navigate the current times in order to move ahead together. Therefore I really hope to have some future dialogues with other creatives living in the city.
Sophie Crichton – www.sicstudio.net