Stuart Lorimer

Stuart Lorimer Interview - By Steven Cox

HUNTED PROJECTS is delighted to present the work of Stuart Lorimer, a painters painter who's genuine brazen approach to painting pays homage to the diverse range of modern painting practices today.  Lorimer's focus on process is central, for his works flirt with abstraction, landscape, portraiture and colour field painting.  It would be fair to say that his works would appeal to a painting aficionado who can truly appreciate the finer elements that would perhaps be over-looked by one who couldn't notice the subtle harmony that Lorimer achieves within his works.  All in all, Lorimer's paintings are a feast for the eyes, explore and enjoy....

Can you tell HUNTED PROJECTS about yourself and creative background?

SL: I’m from Glasgow, grew up in Edinburgh and did my undergrad in Dundee.  I graduated in 2008 and moved back to Glasgow then Philly for grad school.  I moved to NYC about a year ago.  I’m a painter, almost exclusively, though from time to time make “things” from bits and bobs around the studio.

You previously studied in Scotland though chose to move to the USA to study at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, could you discuss this shift and how this brought such changes within your work?

SL: Yeah, I liked painting in Scotland and felt part of a strong community of artists.  It was difficult to step away from a direct and reciprocal relationship with those people and start anew in the States, but I wanted to study in America and make art on the East coast.  I don’t want to make comparisons, as I love the art being made in the UK, and there are painters like Phobe Unwin and Ryan Mosley whose work I love to a fault.  I felt a certain seriousness people have here towards painting.  A sort of “its really hard and expensive so you better take it seriously” attitude.  I know this exists in the UK also, and maybe I’m only noticing it as I’m getting older, or perhaps it has something to do with how dense the art world is in NYC.  The industry is just so huge here.  It’s beguiling – and quite intimidating.  I remember reading somewhere that Brooklyn has the highest number of residents in the world who consider themselves artists.  There’s something fantastic about that to me.  There are so many different scenes big and small that there is, seemingly, hopefully, a home for all kinds of artists.

I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to resist making direct references in my work to place and time.  I can’t help it.  I’ve been ham-fisted at times and have just about gotten away with it.  Those references to place and time are a little naïve but heartfelt. Periodically I find it important to regroup and make direct representational paintings of where I am. For the most part – they’re very unsuccessful but a useful way for me to disentangle my abstract work and take stock.

Are you finding the time/cost to make artwork in Brooklyn as a positive pressure, where contemplation is more central so all work being made is of an equal seriousness?  I am meaning this in the sense that it would be ridiculous to assume that an artist wouldn't thrive in such an environment....

SL: Yes, I would say so.  Though finding a balance is hard.  The cost of living means having to hustle for work, which means sacrificing studio time.  It definitely makes the time in the studio more urgent.  I feel less inclined to produce slow meditative work – which maybe is exactly what I should be doing.  Doing something in opposition to the pace of life here.  The sense of time, or rather ownership over time feels distressed here.  I realize that’s a pressure I put upon myself, and hopefully I’ll achieve a more sustainable control of time and how it mediates my attitude towards paintings. Slow work in fast places and vice versa, dunno - could be a terrible idea.  It’s something to consider.

I personally find that the exploration of materiality is a focus that should, to a degree, be central to a painters practice, and I find that your new work owns a very considered palette that possesses qualities that a trained painter can really appreciate.  Could you discuss your views on the progressive qualities of painting today?

SL: Sure, absolutely.  It’s tantamount – especially when an image or narrative is not the main motivation behind a painting.  I mean it’s in there, it comes out but generally I’m not starting with a design, more like a mood, tone or a color.  A friend told me they though my paintings would always be a struggle for me to make, and they are definitely. Maybe that’s a redundant statement as It’s probably applicable to most artists, but I rarely make things easy for myself.  Whenever I start to establish a framework or approach for how to construct a painting, I feel restless or disingenuous for some reason.  This might be damaging as I think painters should hope at some point to achieve a degree of continuity in their practice.  But then there are so many approaches and painting feels infinite in that regard so why operate a limited investigation, why not have many disparate investigations at one time, within the same work even.

Perhaps over distance and time you start to see the progression and how the works fit together as a whole, dunno. 

I think as a requisite for my work: the approach to materials – and a certain homogeneity between surface-to-surface can help legitimatize a contrary approach to subject matter.

I find it interesting that some of your newest paintings own autobiographical references to Scotland and perhaps reference elements of a personal romanticist journey, for instance, 3 or 4 Mountains, On The Road, and Lakes and Mountains.  Are these paintings perhaps more personal to yourself that pay homage to where you are from, and where you currently position yourself?  There is a sense of irony in creating paintings that reference mountains and lakes etc whilst based within a very urban environment…

SL: I really respond to that.  These archetypes are still new to me.  I started painting landscapes about a year ago.  They came out of the leftfield as I had never taken any real interest in landscape painting, plein air painting and still rarely, if ever work from observation.  I agree that they are laments to back home, or rather: to the countryside.  They are sentimental, but probably ironic also. It’s escapism for me to make these landscapes.  In lieu of what I said earlier about making work in opposition to a sense of time, perhaps these are works made in opposition to an environment.  They are restorative to me in a sense. 

What’s keeping you busy in Brooklyn at the moment?

SL: Apart from my Studio, I help out at a studio in South Brooklyn specializing in hand painted wall surfaces for architecture projects.  It’s a great studio and a treasure chest for material geeks.  Lots of pigments and iridescent powders etc.  I also help out at the gallery Artists Space in Soho and assist a couple of different artists in the city.  + Figuring out my visa situation – a daily source of anxiety.

Can you tell us a bit about the Artist Run Spaces, which you know of, that exist within New York and how would these compare with your experience of what exists within Scotland?

SL: There are many.  Especially in Bushwick, where gallery ingenuity is still, just about affordable.  Bushwick is a post-industrial neighborhood in North Brooklyn.  There is a lot spilling into Ridgewood also, a neighborhood north of Bushwick where I live.  There are lots of live-work spaces and low-fi galleries.  People turn their studios, apartments and really any available space into art venues.  Different in my experience from back home for there being little to no, mainly no, financial support from the city and local council.  Of course there are larger better-organized galleries that operate not-for-profit status as well as successful artist run spaces that function as commercial galleries.  There is a punk-rock approach to the grass roots spaces away from Manhattan that I respond to.

Could you discuss some of your influences and how these have had an impact in some form on your work?

SL: Yeah, it changes a lot.  Generally - I’m inspired by the work I see day to day by my friends.  I like the idea of supporting a group of artist friends.  More than pints and good chat – it’s great to have input and support, from putting on group shows to writing about each other’s work and so on.  Feels like a gang or something.  Painter’s I’m in awe of at the moment: Ted Gahl, Shanna Waddell, Jane Corrigan, Emily Davidson, Dan Schein, lauren luloff, Jack Henry, Michael Williams, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Joe Bradley, Dona Nelson and dozens more.

What are you working on at the moment and do you have any exhibitions lined up for the near future that you would like to tell us about?

SL: I’m making large, wobbly paintings for no show in particular.  Working on a joint venture with friends at a project space in Chelsea and there’s a show in Brooklyn curated by Jack Henry Later in the autumn.

Stuart Lorimer