How did you come up with the style?
The truth is I don’t really know. I came to the style from a number of different thought processes I was having at the time. I can take you through those and you can draw your own conclusions. Firstly I was looking at a photograph taken of the Martian surface by the Mars Orbital Surveyor. Part of the image had broken up – it was just noise. I remember thinking at the time: “that’s not just noise, that’s also information… the circuitry short-circuited for a reason, and in the future perhaps that noise will tell its own story – when we are more advanced and can read it”. Story two: I was looking at a digital photograph and remember thinking about how much information we’re losing in the trade-off for expedience. Digital means “distinct interval”. All those amazing tones you find in traditional cameras have been chopped up and most of them discarded. We don’t seem to care that we’re losing this quality. I wanted to paint in a style that highlighted this loss – I wanted to expose that dark-space. My initial paintings were like this – on a black background to describe this issue. So I came to the style from the need to tell a story – to present a perspective. I usually dislike art that doesn’t communicate anything. I also hate it when I’m viewing art and I don’t know the message. I wanted to avoid that – everyone has to get my message – which is to step back. I came up with the style before I painted the first piece. The trick then became to see if I could pull it off…
How do you do your style?
Very slowly. There are a lot of steps. I’ll try simplify it. I start with an image, either a rough sketch or a photograph. Like you’ll find in a woodcut, I convert gradients to alternating light and dark areas. The bigger the circles, the less white canvas shows through, the darker the area overall… My initial paintings were basically just 8 layer woodcuts. Then I wanted to add more colour, so now there’s an extra step – each dot is like a mini-woodcut, consisting of 5 layers or so. From a distance your eye puts these 5 colours together and you get a resulting colour – a merged colour. Yes, I could just paint one colour per dot and achieve a similar result, but part of my message for the work is in the close-up aesthetic. Stuff is interesting from close up. Our lives have a lot of texture/noise. Then we step back, and we see the influence of people and things in our lives – the things that shaped us. I’d like to try echoing that in my work if I can. So each dot is a different size (like the woodcut) and a different colour. Combining these two techniques creates the image.
A little bit about your past?
I’m from Cape Town. I studied Art and Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town in the 80s and 90s. I started with pointillism around 2003/2004 but I’ve been painting all my life. My influences are Seurat (obviously), Russian avant garde art of the 1900s and a whole host of architects – I planned to study architecture at an earlier stage of my life to try and marry my two interests: art and mathematics.