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Studio Secrets

Olly Beck


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

The ephemera that I keep around me in my studio is constantly changing as my work evolves. At the moment I am using Japanese and Chinese script to inform my work. I am also looking at a bizarre book I recently found on gemstones and a Lego catalogue from the 1970s. I am always looking for images and text that seem strange or incongruous, but conversely these influences have to be relevant in some way to the stage I'm at. I see my work as a form of writing that is suggestive rather than rhetorical. Although I love looking at a wide range of art I am more influenced by reading and film. Books that I constantly return to for their other-worldliness are the 'The Miserable Miracle' by Henri Michaux; Deleuze and Guattari's 'A Thousand Plateaus' ; and although I'm not religious, the beauty and the madness that is 'The Bible'. These items are always with me in the studio. With film it will always be the work of Jean-Luc Godard and Andrei Tarkovsky. Anything to do with science fiction also has a subtle influence.

Describe your working methods and processes.

I sketch a lot. For me sketching is a freer space than actual painting. In my sketchbooks I am thinking aloud, working things out, allowing new things to happen. I don't sketch from life, I sketch from my unconscious. But these sketches are not transcribed onto canvas. For me each drawing and each painting is an event in itself, but all are intertwined and in conversation with each other. Sometimes I work very fast and sometimes very slowly. And sometimes I'm drunk when I work, and other times I'm not.

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

  The most important thing in my studio is the last piece of work I made, because it will inform the next piece of work I make.

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

Cy Twombly, Fra Angelico, Robert Ryman, Sarah Lucas and Mike Nelson are all lasting influences. The Thomas Hirschhorn show at the Stephen Friedman Gallery was so disturbing that it can't help but influence me. How? I don't know yet...

Is your studio a refuge or a place of torture?

I love my studio, because I love making art. But when things are not going well with what I make the studio can become a despairing hell, and I'm scared to go there.