Artist Inquisition: Beau White
As part of our ongoing Artist Inquistion series we spoke to Beau White whose solo exhibition 'The Muck & The Mire' is currently on exhibition until October 29 2016 at Trocadero Art Space.'The Muck & The Mire' is a series of intricately detailed oil paintings that represent how phobia can mutate into the absurd and grotesque.
Who is Beau White?
I’m a person that lives in Maribyrnong with a wonderful partner and a cat in a rented house/ future development site. I like to paint hyperrealist absurdism and play the drums (not at the same time).
How did you first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative, or is it something that came later?
I was creative as a kid. My Mum has kept some of my earlier drawings. They are pretty action packed, comedic and violent.
Can you tell us a little bit about your solo exhibition at Trocadero Art Space?
I started working on the flagship piece “Thirst” back in early 2015. I found out about Trocadero accepting proposals with only a week or so before the deadline in November 2015. Based on “Thirst” I hastily came up with a thematic “concept” for the show.
The painting features my partner Isabel, nude covered in drying clay, emerging from dark foliage, cradling an absurdly large, shiny leech. She appears to be offering this terrifying yet docile beast to us.
I grew up in the country and leeches were a phobia I have had ever since being the host of one while swimming in a creek at about the age of 5 or 6. The leech is a recurring character throughout the exhibition as a representation of phobia.
For this new exhibition The Muck & The Mire I have, over the course of a year, created a series of intricately detailed oil paintings that represent both primal fears and modern anxieties. This body of work explores the urge to resist nature and control the wilderness and “the other” as well as the artificial quagmire of consumerism and domestic suffocation.
The show runs from October 12 to October 29. (More info here)
Is there an artwork in this exhibition that you’re most proud of, or one that has a particularly interesting backstory?
I would have to say that the afore mentioned “Thirst” is a painting that I am quite proud of. It was a very challenging piece and it took a long time to complete. Isabel posed for me with this giant leech which I sculpted in plasticine and painted with oil paint (I think we used baby oil to make it glisten). Isabel covered herself head to toe in a clay slurry which began to dry and crack and create beautiful textures. The photoshoot was done in our backyard where our neighbours fence was quite low; so, as to not startle them, we put a shielding tarp up between two trees, set up some lights and I took some fantastic reference photos of Izzy holding this huge, gross looking worm framed by dense foliage at the back of the garden. Pretty standard Wednesday night at our place really.
What materials and techniques do you use?
I use oil paint and a few different types of alkyd based oil mediums, a fast drying medium (Liquin) and a slow drying medium (Langridge Flow Medium). I mainly use synthetic brushes, but have a few natural hair brushes.
As far as technique goes, it can vary from painting to painting and it can vary while I work on an individual piece. I generally build up fairly thin layers of paint. Starting with a monochromatic underpainting, I then apply layer upon layer of more opaque colours and then I add glazes to tweak and refine and finally place reflective light highlights. After the painting is touch dry, I use Gamvar to varnish the painting to even out the sheen and revive sunken colours and deepen the dark areas. Recently, I’ve also been getting into doing more “wet on wet” slightly looser techniques, which is a nice contrast to the other paint and wait- layering technique.
Glad, Oil on panel, by Beau White. All rights reserved
Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?
I try to get into the studio most days of the week and paint. When it isn’t flowing, I just keep persisting until it does. I usually have more than one painting on the go, so I can move on to another if I’m struggling. Also, scraping and cleaning painting palettes is an alternative option.
Isabel Peppard, who I’ve mentioned above, is my creative confidant and partner in crime. We discuss ideas and techniques all the time. She is a hugely talented and multi disciplined artist and film director. We’ve helped each other out on both of our numerous projects throughout the years. So, no lack of inspiration in our house.
And what is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why?
I don’t think I have a favourite artwork. I like a lot of different artworks by many different types of artists, but not a particular one that I can think of as a favourite.
I do have an original painting in my house which I have enjoyed staring at blankly over the years. I purchased it at an op shop in Brunswick for $10. I can’t find the artist’s name on the painting to attribute it to. It’s a landscape painting of a spooky dark forest and a swampy pond (Bob Ross probably did it). It’s so mysterious and conjures up so many thoughts about what horrors might lurk among the tall trees. The techniques used to create all the different textures are so confidently applied and the colour palette goes from gloomily muddy to cheerfully vibrant.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
Since I moved to Melbourne from Albury back in 1998, I have met and maintained friendships with many amazingly talented creative people who I have learned so much from and whose artistic practice I am always inspired by.
What are you working on next?
I have an exhibition lined up for October next year at BeinArt Gallery in Brunswick which I will begin working on very soon.
What question do you wish we'd asked you, and what would your answer have been?
'What is the most challenging aspect to your artistic practice?' Writing and/or talking about my art in an academic way and having to explain the “meaning” behind particular pieces. I really enjoy it when a viewer can derive their own interpretations from my work and not have to be told how they should or shouldn’t think or feel about it.
The Muck & The Mire runs from October 12 to October 29 at Trocadero Art Space, in Footscray. (More info here)
--- Words: Lauren Guymer Images: Courtesy of the gallery/artist.