Through our interview blog feature INSERT NAME we are getting to know four final year Painting students who undertook the same residency at different times.
BA Painting students at Camberwell were offered the opportunity to to apply for one week residencies with The Fine Art Collective (TFAC) at Griffin Gallery. Six students were chosen to partake, all in 3rd Year Painting and graduating in June. Each student had a week working in a spacious and professional environment where they were able to embark on a short and intensive period of experimentation with materials of their choice from Liquitex and Windsor and Newton, with the intention of informing and enriching their painting practice. The six students chosen were Esra Vazirally, Alice Mears, Swathi Srinivasan, Christopher Simpson, Victor Leleca and Florence Main.
Victor Leleca was born in Moldova, lived in Belgium, and then moved to UK to study painting. The TFAC residency was his first and he chose to use the Liquitex medium as he really likes their acrylic gels and mediums, but he also tried Windsor and Newton.
Tell us about your residency:
It was a good opportunity. Having the space for yourself, even if just for a week, allows you to get a sneak peak of what working in a studio could be like, once we are out in the wild. You have nowhere to run from yourself or your art, so you have to confront it and make it work.
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came to study at Camberwell?
I had a bit of a journey before deciding to study painting. I studied linguistics, then architecture in Belgium, then traveled around Europe living and working in Malta, Lithuania, and back to Belgium. I finally decided that I wanted to put all my efforts into becoming an artist and painter. I’ve heard a lot of good things about London art schools and Camberwell was one of the universities that I applied for, and with hindsight actually the one that suited my practice the most.
Why did you decide to apply for the Griffin Gallery Fine Art Collective Residency?
The idea was pitched to us by one of our tutors at Camberwell, Juan Bolivar. It was an opportunity to have a big studio space and free materials. It was also a way to meet people who work to create and spread the materials that we use.
What research did you undertake during your week?
I wanted to make the best of my residency by doing a massive painting, so I planned out the steps and the process to optimize my use of time and space. As for the painting itself, I actually went to the V&A museum searching for an interesting angle on the way to introduce isometric space into my work. I got overexcited with this painting and finished ahead of the plan, so the rest of residency I played around with spray paints, acrylic paints and photo transfer.
Did you learn anything new or interesting regarding technique or with materials?
I feel like I can push my own material research further now, add variety to my output. Using acrylic transparent medium for example, combined with spray paint, and transferring imagery on top. The amount of materials available gave me the opportunity to try over the top combinations, for better or worse results, which in turn helped refine my artistic practice.
Did you take away anything from the residency that will further your practice or your final project at Camberwell?
Every work I do furthers my practice, however this was particularly fruitful experiment in scale and workforce management. I know my limits better and also I’m not afraid to do ambitious works.
Can you please describe your art practice:
My practice is rooted in painting, and the immense exciting historical luggage that comes with it. However it diverges in a broad sense into the ready-made of physical, such as: found supports, display strategies, building materials, industrial processes, and the digital, such as: stock imagery and easy-to-use web-based 3D modelling. I find there is a pleasure and surprises that come out of manipulating and combining materials, tools and digital experiences, interfaces and images.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently fine tuning my piece for the degree show, which is a collection of 12 animals that are loosely inspired by the Chinese zodiac, my cat and partner’s dog, and figure painting influenced by Picasso’s sculptures that I saw at an exhibition in Brussels. I’ve been extensively using a transferring technique to create these animals with human features. This technique allowed me to reconcile my interest in painting and the overly polished digital glossy experience with a low-fi edge. This body of work pushed me to evaluate how far I can go from the original intent, that first sketch, how much information I can lose along the way. I read somewhere that in the age of information what we forget, and not what we remember, is what makes us human.
How has studying at Camberwell informed or influenced your art practice?
Peers and tutors played an essential role in the development of my practice. The discussions always leave me with at least one sentence, one hook that I hang on, that helps me understand and narrow down and expand my practice.
What are you future plans?
I think the plan is to find a sustainable way to continue doing art, hopefully get more residencies, find a space to work in, show art.
Have you had any highlights while studying at Camberwell?
Myself and my peers did a few self-organised shows which we were quite proud of, and a group show at Assembly Point gallery, which definitely was a step up for us as far as art spaces go.
Where is your favourite place in Camberwell/Peckham?
My studio and the little van next to Peckham Rye station that sells the best falafel and halloumi wraps in the world. Peckham has an amazing vibe to it in general.
Do you have an artist influence?
I really enjoy the Egyptian, Assyrian and Mexican rooms at the British Museum, they blow my mind every time I go there. The V&A has a very interesting space dedicated to Chinese culture, we have so much to learn from different places and cultures. Also Rachel MacLean’s WOT U 🙂 ABOUT? at Tate Britian blew my mind, it’s still very fresh, but it will probably seep into my work soon. I also keep coming back to Pablo Picasso, Kazimir Malevich and Neo Rauch.
Can you recommend an exhibition must-see?
I personally really want to see Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave at the British Museum. Otherwise some of the paintings in Queer British Art show at Tate Britain really make it worth a visit, particularly Edward Burra’s work.
And finally, do you have any advice to students looking to start (your course) at Camberwell?
Be present, enjoy your space and your peers and tutors company, do the workshops, go to the talks, try new things that make sense to you and push you to use different methods and facilities.
Victor and the 3rd Year Painting students will be displaying at 45-65 Peckham Road during the Summer Shows 17, 19-24 June.
Apply now: Griffin Art Prize 2017