A few weeks ago I caught up with artist Lucas Dupuy, late last year he exhibited with us in the group show Shatterproof. For anyone unfamiliar with Lucas and his work, he focuses on abstraction through painting, design and drawing, combining images with shapes whilst experimenting with collage, digital imagery and the juxtaposition and languages in mark making.
I was invited down to Lucas’s studio at City and Guild’s of London Art School in South London for the afternoon to have a general chat, see what he had been working on since to Decembers group show and to gather more of an insight into the passions, inspirations and drive behind the artist.
Once I arrived and after Lucas kindly made a brew, we made our way through the rabbit warren of stairs and corridors to his studio.
N. So whats this you’re working on? the colour ones, I browsed through your Instagram earlier and these stand out the most. They are completely different to the ones you had in Shatterproof.
L. The piece I put in the show were derived from a big series of drawings that were looking at different ways of images and geometric shapes and combining them together in the same system. I have a set of rules to those drawings and paintings, for a while I wasn’t breaking them to try and form a series, then I would get burnt out with the rules. I allow myself to break the rules which I set up for myself to try and evolve the work further.
I always try to have a set of colours and not move away from those colours for a period of time, it’s sort of a challenge in a way. In my paintings early last year I was using a lot of bright and overexposed colours but I got to a point where I felt frustrated with that and moved away from it towards the end of the year. I focused on a series of painting with an even more limited colour palette (black, white and turquoise on raw canvas).
'Analogue bubblebath 4 side A Track 1[untitled]' Acrylic on raw canvas '150cm x 100cm' 2015
N. What ink is it?
L. Its sort of a half ink half acrylic, it has quite a strong opacity, the colour is really strong it isn’t dark and watery like some inks but these are the first two I’ve done so I’m going to put them together and see if they work well together.
L. Yeah they sort of work, they are sort of landscapes abstracted. They are sort of experiments for bigger paintings.
N. I read on your website profile you were/are inspired by places you visited, nostalgia and technology. I was wondering if this was anything, landscape etc in particular?
L. Yes definitely, when I go and visit my aunt by the coast seeing the cliffs and landscapes, they have become a big influence. I’m not really sure why they are but I think its because I rarely get out of London.
N. With these paintings here you can see that influence (the one similar to the painting shown in Shatterproof)
'Analogue bubblebath volume 1 ,Track 1 ' Acrylic on canvas ,140cm x 100cm, 2016
L. Yeah that one is a little more abstracted and from memory. The images are from things that I am really infested in, for example the computer tower on the left, the c.d case and the landscape. there are a lot of references to certain things that have been looking at for a while.
There are a few like the one at the Shatterproof show which were part of a series with abstracted images taken from places in Kent.
N. So is this where the nostalgia comes from?
L. I think going there as a kid and drawing a lot has helped shaped my recent work I think. Still go their sort of 3 times a year now so it’s still very relevant. I’ve been going to the same place for so long that’s sort of why its engrained in my brain a bit. Mostly from places in Kent, there’s a town called Deal I think it got voted most boring place in the UK or something (both laugh) it is boring though, I can’t stay there for too long. My Nan used to live there, she was and artist who would paint landscapes there and around where she was at the time. She was an amazing oil painter; I think that influence along with my aunt who studied textile design. She did a series of amazing gouache paintings in the late 70’s early 80’s. She gave me all her old gouache paints so I thought I’d better start using them.
N. Was that a while ago or quite recent?
L. It was probably the start of last year, yeah around January last year.
N. Was that a sort of a kick up the backside to do something? Or it felt like you had to use those materials in particular?
L. Yeah it sorts of was, but some of them were around 30 years old and were completely hardened. Some were great, there was this one colour, called emerald green, I was trying to buy it because I’d used it all, she’d had three tubes of it but I found they’ve discontinued it which is really annoying (laughs). But you can mix it from 2 colours anyway. I think getting them was really good as it forced me to use them. The work really well on paper and they go well with what I’ve been trying to do with the ink, gouache and charcoal pieces.
N. So does memory play a part when your painting?
L. Yeah I’d say so, there are always objects that I’ll remember, like cd’s, computers, I remember my first computer and it was that sort of shape (points to shapes on a canvas) it was massive! We didn’t have the internet on it so I just played games on it and used windows paint and made images on windows paint I must have been about 10 or 11. So there some little elements which are taken from memories but others are just completely new ideas that I am working out on canvas.
N. I think you might have just answered what I was going to ask next, I was wondering if this was inspired by technology, the shapes, is that were they come from your old computer? A nostalgic technology?
L. These paintings are very much inspired by technology, I think it’s sort of new and old technology. I think it comes from using windows paint a lot as a kid and then learning to use Photoshop.
Recently I’ve been designing layouts of paintings on Photoshop and using it as a tool to inform my paintings. Some of the shapes and affects you get on these programs like the spray tool and magic wand, I’m super interested in those tools and applying them to a canvas with paint.
N. Ok, can I ask why painting? What is it about painting?
L. I was asked this question by a tutor a few weeks ago, why bother painting instead of doing it on a computer? As they are so related to the digital image.
L. The point of painting is its creating something physical in a real world it’s not a digital image it’s got more importance I think; they are worth something more. Its like looking at work on Instagram but sometimes it’s sort of overload of pictures and information its very fast moving. I couldn’t use Facebook I would go mental.
But doing a painting is sort of opposite, slows it right down the process. Because painting a painting vs the process of using computer programs is a completely different .I am really inspired by what you can achieve on a computer because I have grown up with programs such as windows paint and early versions of Photoshop and the natural progression was to translate some of those elements from those programs into physical paintings.
N. Well this is it, it’s something I’m quite interested in myself, it’s the actual process of creating something (especially an object) rather than the end result, ah this is a very cliché response (Both laugh). But at the same time it is was makes it interesting. I can relate to what you are saying the with the paintings as a physical object, to produce something physical and tangible is something I’m fond of.
L. I think Photoshop a really great tool but I think the physical painting is a more interesting
N. I can see that on this one here
L This one has probably been the most experimental one in the series, I’ve been trying use thick impasto acrylic vs really thin acrylic washes and rough brush marks.
L. These next paintings the three I’ve got lined up, they are going to be, well I haven’t really got a huge plan yet but I’m going to experiment using inks on raw canvas and just try and maybe get a little bit more colour in there i think. But saying that I’m really enjoying these, just using greys and black .
N. Its almost like restricting yourself and pushing your skills
L Yeah, restricting myself is a big part of these painting because they already have a set design like this rectangle and all these other shapes and all these other images are going to be in here and there is no exception
N. So you have a layer out map already?
L In my head yeah and more recently on Photoshop, and they are also images taken from the drawings Ive been doing but I don’t think I’ve done a straight copy from an image or drawing. It would get too restricted then I think .
N. What other things interest you, and are there other inspirations in your life or things you're inspired by?
L. I got really into lot of electronica and techno from the early/late 90’s when I was around 16-17 and just became sort of obsessed with these genres in general and the album artwork that went along with the music. I don’t know if it really relates so heavily as I used to think it does but I think it is still in there in a way, because I’ve listened to these albums and EPs so much that there are references to them in the titles of the works and in certain places in painting.
My dad’s music collection is insane, he has thousands of cd’s and hard drives just filled with one genre of music and another on the next. He is also a sculptor; he makes art out of found objects
N. Anything in particular?
L His work is sort of hard to explain really, he makes so much of it and a lot of it is quite different. Mainly the focuses are on the found object, and juxtaposition of different shapes and forms. he is also really interested in lighting his pieces with different coloured lights.
‘The jack of hearts @ dusk’ Jolyon Dupuy, 2013
N. So your dad is quite a bit of an inspiration then?
L. Yeah defiantly, my aunt and my dad are huge influences in my work.
N. Brother and sister?
L. Yes. My dad doesn’t make art for a living, he doesn’t like showing it, he doesn’t show it in galleries. Neither does my aunt.
N. So its something very personal to them?
L. Yeah defiantly.
N. So would you say you’ve grown up in a creative environment?
L. I’ve grown up in an environment that’s very creative for sure. My dad started making art when I was about 11 think, he started quite late, think he was around 40.
When I was younger we used to go on a skip run on Saturday mornings, we would drive round where I grew up in Nunhead via the back streets and go through all the skips. It was quite funny jumping into skips as a young kid with my dad, looking for bits of wood or something that would work to make a sculpture. I didn’t really get it, but as I got older its sort been ingrained in me. His work is super personal; I think he has sold three or four his whole life.
Recently he has been using photoshop more than me recently (laughs) he takes pictures of his sculptures and he’ll warp and layer them. At the moment he’s doing a series, he’s on about a thousand at the moment. He doesn’t want to print them off, he just does them because he feels the need to do it. Sort of how I feel about painting, drawing etc. I’ve got to do something during the day or I feel un productive.
N. Concept wise, do you feel the paintings have got stronger?
L I think so, I have really started to figure what my works about and what I want my work to be about. Trying to create a dialogue for my work is something that I think is very important.
N. Do you feel that you have been forced to question yourself a lot more by tour tutors?
L. Yeah think so and I’m glad I’ve been asked lots of difficult questions that challenge what I am producing otherwise I don’t think I would ever progress.
Being asked questions is good, as I think I’d get a bit lost without that sort of constant questioning of my work like ‘why did you do that?’ what is that mark there? etc Which helps me explore what it is I’m doing which open my mind up to more ideas in general.
N. I think sometimes it takes someone to put you on the spot and ask these difficult questions to help you move forward and helps to cement your ideas and concepts.
L. Yeah it’s also nice to get a fresh perspective regularly which stops me from being stuck in my work with no outside view and it’s good to be pushed constantly. One of my tutors came in the other day, he gets the concepts and he understands the paintings but it doesn’t mean that he likes all of them, but he appreciates that he can understand and see what it is I’m trying to convey.
N. But this is because they are pushing you, no one really likes to be questioned or question themselves, it’s difficult, self-reflection I mean.
L. It’s taken me quite a long time to talk about my own work and feel comfortable with talking about it. I think is always a hard thing to do. Because my paintings are all taking things from parts of my life and translating them onto canvas.
N. Do you any other creative outlets that are not related to your paintings or schooling?
L. I skate, but I haven’t really been skateboarding that often recently. Once the weathers better I will be back on it. Collecting music, I love album covers. That’s probably it really, because painting and drawing take up most of my time,
N. I can’t stop looking at those two paintings…
L Yeah I’m quite enjoying them now. I’m going to do another one now, I did the other two last night
After Lucas had finished his canvas and compared it to the others, we looked through his Instagram and discussed some of his older pieces as I had seen there was a 3d element to some canvas’s.
L. Last year I did a series of paintings from found objects, that one is from last year that’s from a pallet I found in the street and bits of wood and a canvas that had been given to me.
'Analogue Bubblebath 3.1' Acrylic and ink on canvas and wood '70cm x 60cm'
N. Sounds like your dad
L. Yeah I started collecting loads of stuff I found on the street. I found my studio becoming a dump site where people would just bring stuff to me, some of it was good off cuts of canvas’s bits of 2x4 but a lot was rubbish. I was really interested in making paintings from things that have no use anymore I found that quite interesting. I was researching the Arte Povera movement a lot at the time.
But I sort of got to a point where I had to just move away from it as I got frustrated with having so much going on at one time, i needed to be a little more restricted in what I was doing. I sort of got to a point where my studio was full of so much stuff that I was never going to use and it was effecting the way I was making paintings. I thought the best thing to do would be to clear it all out and try and take some ideas from that way of making work and push those into newer paintings.
After this, it was time for me to wrap it up and leave Lucas to carry on with finishing some paintings. Id you would like to find out more about 'Shatterproof' follow this link, and to see more work by Lucas you can visit his website http://www.lucasdupuy.com/ and follow him on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/lucas__dupuy/. Lucas will be exhibiting new work at Proof in September, so watch this space!
- May 22, 2016
- Nick Blaney