I absolutely love the work of Robert Luke Strang, who takes an autobiographical and often humorous approach to exploring the relationship and conversation between artist, artwork, and viewer. A really stellar interview to check out here, and make sure to find more at the links below!
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First, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Robert Luke Strang, and I am a London based artist. The foundation on which all my work is based is looking at the conversation between the artist, work and viewer and the fine balance of the artist’s offerings, absence, ambiguity and guidance. It reimagines what I call the ‘hand-over’ the moment when the artist lets go of the work and gifts it to the viewer. Rather than the work being an object subject to the viewer’s critical judgement, my work is a medium. It becomes a form through which artist and viewer exchange and construct meanings. I’m interested in art as a form of talk as much as a way of seeing.
What first interested you in making art?
In 2005 at the age of 16 I visited the Royal Academy to see ’Edvard Munch By Himself’ exhibition. It was here I was first offered further understanding from the galleries’ wall text. I was no longer alone with the artwork. These texts gave me a language to communicate with art. Munch’s work was no longer just a series of shapes, colours, and arrangements, and my experience of looking at it was no longer mere phenomenology or impression. Art became about ideas in that moment. It’s meaning no longer lay simply in form, the wall text had enabled me to discover that the artworks content.
What has your art education been like, whether formally or informally?
I studied in London at Central St. Martins. On joining the school I waited for my tutors to offer me words of wisdom that I thought only a teacher could offer, however, quickly it became apparent to me that my real eduction was going to come from my peers and the dialog, discussions, and debate that happening in the 23 hours of the day I was not with a tutor. My friends, fellow students and the library gave me the greatest education and I thank CSM for giving me these tools.
You work with various media, often painting, exploring the possibilities of art as a form of communication. Can you elaborate on that?
From the artists I have met over the years, I have seen that we all have such strong feelings on the role we should play, and the involvement we should have in the viewers reading of the final artwork.
I attempt to use different mediums, currently focusing on forms of modern communication and technology, as to create less of a distance between the artist and the viewer. My work aims to cut out all the middle men between the artist and the viewer, and attempt to make the artists voice stronger after the work has been completed and the final mark has been acted.
You utilize dates, numbers, and popular imagery as well; do you do any kind of research prior to creating a work?
I would say that my creative process breaks down into:
60% Researching (Reading and writing)
20% Plotting the works creation
5% Doubting the works creation
10% Producing the work
5% Evaluating the outcome.
Do you plan pieces ahead, or work somewhat intuitively?
I admire the artists that can just create visuals, and then just work backwards and assess their objective. I however am not one of these artists. I spend weeks planning & considering my intention and outcome, I suffer with dramatic spikes of love & hate and adoring & doubting. I naturally work in this process, when the idea is ok and its perfect it becomes physical.
How would you describe your studio or workspace?
My studio acts as my monastery. A place sterile from the P45, waiting laundry and unwanted statements. My studio is a place for me to come and have clear intention and undivided focus on my work.
Do you have any routines or rituals that help you get you in the mode to create?
I believe creativity breeds creativity and I try never to be out of a creative and questioning mindset. I attempt to always be positive and to endlessly be exploring new ideas and potential possibilities. I force myself to never succumbing to idleness and always remember that resistance is the enemy of progression.
What's your favorite piece of advice you've received?
When working at Safeways as a kid I read on my lunch break an article by Tracey Emin about how Francis Bacon was a right laugh and how the image of the lonely depressed existentialist was, a one dimensional media created fallacy. It was after reading this I realised I couldn’t go into creativity with an intention and predetermined aim of being anything but myself. If I'm funny I’ll be funny, if I'm sad I will be sad, If I’m angry I’ll be angry. But fuck acting, and screw making art that isn't my true intention.
How would you describe "success?"
Success is being content with your outcome
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally?
Creating art is filled with self sacrifice. I think an artist just has to hope they don't look back on the sacrifices they made, and regret the time not spend with love ones.
What are you working on right now? Any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
I have a few shows later this year in London and New York. For these shows I am currently creating a new series of work using light and office motivational strapline, something to really get the crowd motivated.
I am also in the process of researching for a new body of work I will be creating at a Buddhist Monastery in Nepal later this year, the reason for this is I have developed an interest in looking at the parallels between the process of creating an artwork and the rich history of the humans search for enlightenment. Or something like that.
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