We catch up with artist Lhouette at his Buckingham Studio, ahead of his first major solo show at the gallery for a Q&A to learn more…
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey into the art world?
A. I’ve always been creative and enjoyed the challenge of executing an idea! As a kid I would always be doodling away and drawing, every other class at school became an extension of my art lesson! I was told that I should pursue it in further education, but having grown up in tough times on a pretty unsavoury estate in Luton, becoming an artist seemed like a distant dream and unlikely career option, I wanted a stable income and to travel so ended up on a grey warship in Her Majesties Royal Navy! I spent a lot of time in different parts of the world, it really opened my eyes to different cultures. I learnt to look at things from a different point of view, I guess. I left the Navy aged 22 at a bit of a loss I took a job working on the motorways at night digging holes, there was a lot of waiting around while the lanes were being closed and coned off. I started bringing a sketch pad into work and drawing to kill time. One night my shift mate leaned over to check out one of my drawings and said “What the hell are you doing digging holes on the motorway?!” (Referring to my picture) I remember this comment as being a catalyst and a turning point towards the arts.
I started experimenting and re-establishing my love for art by painting, making stencils, surreal sort of stuff. Returning to college to study didn’t seem viable nor was I interested in the classroom at that stage. For inspiration I would frequent places like Camden, Brick Lane, and Shoreditch, homes to a lot of 'outsider art' which I identified with at that time. I would visit select galleries of interest building up my knowledge and attending exhibitions. I then began to organize my own exhibitions and events advertising and rallying up young artists, like myself, with no real creative outlet or platform. The first show I organised was 2008 in Luton town centre called 'Jumble Fresh Gig & Gallery' which was somewhat a success and it gave me the confidence I needed to quit my job on the motorway, and throw my savings into converting an empty High Street salon into a working art studio and exhibiting space. Wider commercial success then followed, with Buckingham Fine Art who took my work to a national level.
Q. Who are your influences and can you describe your style of painting?
'A. I’m inspired by a whole myriad of pop and street artists, past and present; Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Jeff Koons, Sheppard Fairy, Antony Micallef to name a few.
My practice originates from more self-taught graphic design & stencilling techniques, when I left the Navy, I began creating art with old mechanic aerosol paints that were given to me, scrap sheets of salvaged wooden board, a moody copy of Photoshop and an A5 printer... The work was very raw stuff indeed! Things have developed somewhat since then I’ve adopted a much more lavish refined approach to creating my work whilst trying to retain a certain rawness. Glamour and beauty are of great interest to me as an artist and I spend a lot of time flicking through all kinds of magazines, sourcing imagery, creating juxtaposing collages that satisfy me visually. If I had to label my style, it would be called 'POST URBAN GLAMOUR'.
Q. What is your work schedule/work rate like? How long does it take you to prepare for a show?
A. I’m lucky enough to have constant demand for my originals. I usually have a few painting on the go in the studio that are earmarked for certain galleries and customers. I take my time with the design of a piece, but when physically creating the art I like to have a certain pace, energy and buzz in the studio - I could never be a ‘watercolour in front of an easel’ kind of artist. There is a lot of laborious and 'roll your sleeves up' stages to my work, yesterday I was prepping the top of an old cable drum, with an industrial belt sander for a piece I am walking on for the exhibition. I like the whole industrial approach when making art, not so much in volume but in materials tools and execution. Exhibition planning can be anything up to 12 months at present; I like each piece to be individual and standalone from the next. I’ll create a show schedule, which then usually goes out the window as I start developing the ideas further!
Q. Can you tell us about a bit about your upcoming solo exhibition 'ART De POPULAIRE' at Wyecliffe and your future plans for 2014?
A. ART De POPULAIRE is going to be real clap of visual thunder! Its being held at the Wyecliffe Gallery on Thursday 5th June, and is one of my largest shows to date with around 25-30 pieces of my work. The body of work itself is an interpretation of pop culture, beauty and glamour with a real rough edge, incorporating the fine with the grime. The team at Wyecliffe are great, extremely professional and very enthusiastic about my work, so I’m excited to be showcasing with them. Future plans for this year involve the release of some very exciting new limited editions prints (the first of their kind in terms of format and medium). And also creating a mock beauty parlour installation during London Frieze art week in October, but that's all I can say about that particular project!
'Art De Populaire' is being held at the gallery on Thursday June 5th @ 19:00 RSVP email@example.com