Felix Treadwell is currently pursuing an MA at London's Royal College of Art, where he's been experimenting with new styles of figuration, toeing the boundary between cute and dark. I love the way he addresses the borders of the painting, within which he adds more borders, creating a sense of story, or of time passing, as the figures interact from frame to frame. I'm so thrilled to share some of his thoughts on beginning the MA and exploring new ideas in painting!
+ + +
Hi Felix! I'd love if you told me a bit more about you. Where are you from originally, and where are you based now? What first interested you in painting?
I grew up in a rural town near Brighton and first found a love of painting through my parents showing me Lowry paintings. I was always sketching and drawing mini comics wherever I could.
You're currently enrolled in the MA program at the Royal College of Art in London -- how has your first few months been? Have you landed on any new developments in your work since you've begun pursuing this program?
It was quite strange at first, moving into a new studio, but quickly it becomes exciting as you start to mix with the artists and tutors. I think my work has shifted since starting, I think the RCA's teaching and environment has helped to push me and take risks.
I'm really interested in your pastel palette, which reminds me a little bit of the way inexpensive prints fade when exposed to light, leaving subdued pinks and blues behind. What draws you to these colors?
I suppose a lot of the colours are referencing the types of shows I watched as a child, while also being a device to welcome or invite the viewer.
Can you tell me a bit more about your work? Is there a narrative suggested at all in your pieces, especially in the works that are broken up into what I might call compartments?
I've always wanted a narrative to somehow exist within the work and it became obscure at times. Since working in the panel format, similiar to a comic strip, I think its helped me become more direct in terms of the narrative, allowing the viewer to navigate smoothly through a sequence of scenes. The subjects usually include one of the few characters I've introduced interacting with someone else or an animal or even an object. I'm trying to capture an outsiders perspective to a relationship between a caricature and something else. The subject and concept of the work may seem funny or amusing at first, but as you revisit the works, a subtle, more darker underlying narrative might start to emerge. I think the line between cute and dark is interesting.
What is your studio space like currently?
A bit all over the place at the moment. I'm good at making somewhere messy in a short amount of time.
You completed a residency in Kyoto, Japan during the 2014-15 academic year... how did that influence your practice? How important do you think residencies are to one's artistic practice?
Learning traditional drawing such as Nihon-ga and being surrounded by Japanese Manga (The University specialised in) certainly opened up new ways how to approach figuration, emotion. Focussing on the practical elements of painting was quite refreshing in comparison to the teaching over here. Learning anywhere outside your culture can be valuable and I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity if its there.
What do you consider to be the most challenging thing about pursuing art seriously?
I think to make serious work out of referencing comic and cartoons can be incredibly difficult, people can see through it quickly, but I think its an exciting challenge.
Is there anything you wish was made more available to you as an art student? Or, what do you feel that you need most as an early-career artist?
I think BA's need to give students more tutorial times and better studio spaces for the amount their paying. Crits and tutorials are essential for starting as an artist.
Do you have a go-to if you find yourself in a creative rut?
I'm always discovering new and exciting work through Instagram, which can help inspire me. Or spend a day just going to as many shows as I can.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up, or projects you're currently developing?
I'm preparing for my 'Work In Progress' Show at the Royal College in late January, anyone's welcome to come.
+ + +
+ + +
Support Young Space! Like what you see? As an independent curatorial platform, this project can use your help!