Recently we had journalist Seline Bullocke visiting our gallery, who held interview with five of the seven Art School Awards winners! This week we will highlight one of these interviews each day, today we are presenting RCA student and MA1 winner Luke Twigger!
SB: Your work seems to be an intriguing hybrid of untouchable art and product-designed object with a specific function. How far do you feel it is possible for art pieces to sit comfortably in both of these camps, rather than firmly in just one?
I think for work to sit in these two, perhaps, contradictory ‘camps’ it has to address the key roles of the art object whilst maintaining a sort of functional integrity. Through the work I want to express a contemporary cultural awareness, particularly within social constructs and human nature; whether that’s looking at notions of gender (Pushcup 2011) or at a specific social group (Tyson – my brother’s dead dog 2010 or Dole Trotter 2010). The idea of function and functionality or the expression of perceived function, is addressing the basic and immediate understanding of the work to the viewer on a sort of introductory basis. It answers the question ‘So, what do you do?’ whilst provoking more questions. It’s like a good photograph, it is both a question and an answer, Anders Petersen said that. There’s a limit to how the work remains comfortable though, my recent work (Aspirations and Projections of The Self, as seen online anyway, 2012) has broken away from the archetypal design aesthetic of the earlier works and has a real sense of rawness and provocation, losing the immediate answer to the function of the work, which I rather like.
SB: In your sculptural works, such as Composition Study V, you make reference to formal compositions found in Old Master paintings. How important is it to you that your work makes classical references in the contemporary context?
Within my work I love to have that connection with art history, not just art history, but also material history. The material brings with it its own conceptual connotations - this is more evident when working with a material like clay. As a working medium clay has been through a lot and is so ultimately versatile; you can basically make whatever you like with the stuff and its finish will always reference parts of the material’s own history, whether you decide to make something blue and white, or use a celadon glaze, it will always lead toward allusions of history, purpose and even function through its seemingly basic aesthetic.
SB: There is also a sense of black comedy in your sculptures, for example the 'Skullmate' with its 'cushioned brain' and gold tooth. How important is the element of humour to your work?
Like aesthetics, humour is a bit of a universal language. It provokes a sense of understanding between the artist and the viewer, it’s a very real device; in other words, the humour within my work brings with it a sense of reality, not just accessibility. That black humour is very much part of my own sensibilities, which makes the work very personal. It makes the work, not only connected to far away ideas, but also is a fact of my own consciousness offering the viewer a much more human relationship with the work.
SB: As the winner of the MA 1st Year category, can you explain why you feel it is so important that Debut Contemporary provide this kind of enabling platform, both with the Art School Awards and their gallery programme?
Debut Contemporary seem to go all out promoting young, Art School artists and that can only be a great thing. They have opened more eyes onto your work, which we all know for people in our situation, is absolutely essential. Fresh artists need exposure and Debut have found a way to do this.
SB: How important would you say it has been for you, to enter the Debut Art School Awards competition and to win your category of MA 1st Year?
LT: The most important thing for me would be the exposure generated through the competition. It has offered up opportunities and has generated a larger audience for my work, which is absolutely vital for someone who is pursuing a professional career in Art making
Seline Bullocke is a writer based in London. Follow Seline on Twitter: @Arttext_London