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Studio Secrets

Andrew Bick

Photo by Paul Murphy

Describe the things and images that you have around you in your studio and how they influence or inform your work.

My studio is bare of images apart from work in progress, which is hung on the walls and moved around the studio during the time it takes to complete it [which can be more than a year]. The element of this studio which most informs the work is the light. This comes from windows on three sides and is best for me early in the morning or just as the light starts to die about 45 minutes before sunset. I have a large' flat work surface for drawing which is about 5m x 1m 40; five white walls dividing different part of the space and catching different light conditions; a trolley on wheels containing three electric rings and pots full of wax and oil paint and an area round the back with a work bench and tools.

Describe your working methods and processes.

I work slowly. Painting with wax on wood has several time-consuming requirements for which there are no short-cuts. The wood panel has to be sealed so that as little of the air in its grain as possible escapes on contact with hot wax. The painting process itself has to be done flat on large trestles and then the work lifted on to the wall for extended consideration. Occasionally work gets scraped down and re-started but mostly I can add on top of mistakes or dull work without the new layers being affected by what is beneath, unless I deliberately choose so. I try to consider each work from as many different angles and in as many light conditions as possible and am always ambivalent about its completeness even when it has been shown or documented in a catalogue. Works not in collections that come back to the studio often get re-worked or completely transformed several years after they were originally finished. I keep notebooks and have a large archive of black and white photographs I have taken over the last 20 years, but there is nothing figurative that finds its way into the images I make. The photographs are a record of places, moods and people who form an oblique background to the work.

Which single item in your studio is most important to your work?

My bicycle.

Which artist/s most influence your work and which recent show has been inspirational?

Influences are very diverse and I am not an idealogue. Raoul De Keyser is obviously key in terms of a place for abstraction now. I first saw his work at the Witte de With in Rotterdam in 1994 where they also did and amazing Joelle Tuerlinckx show. I am currently researching British Constructivists from the 1950s and 60s particularly Anthony Hill who taught me briefly. Mary Heilmann and Thomas Nozkowski would have to figure in terms of US artists, as would Richard Tuttle and Ad Reinhardt. Colleagues who I have collaborated with (or am about to) are also very important. Of these Sherman Sam and Patrick Fitzgerald are the ones I speak with the most. I have a collection of small works at home, swapped or bought very cheaply, of these a Diana Cooper, an A K Dolven painting, a Rolf Bier, a David Rhodes and a Dieter Roth etching are favourites. 

The most recent show I saw was Bernard Frize and Gunther Forg in Basel. They are both artists whose work has extended the possibilities for abstract paintings at moments where it has seemed to have nowhere to go, but neither produces ideological work. Forg always seems to make paintings that are on the brink of being played out and then something (when you see them face-to-face) manages to lift them out of repetition and cliché. The connection back to Blinky Palermo is probably the most important thing about his work. Frize is the best kind of mischief-maker. There are to many predictable process painters, but he takes it to another level where the deadpan becomes a sort of provocation. 

Is your studio a refuge or a place of torture?

Neither, it's my place of work.

Photos by Paul Murphy