ANDREW BECK'S PAINTINGS HAVE A DARK UNDERTONE TO THEM BOTH IN COLOR, hue, AND SUBJECT MATTER set against beautiful scenery THAT INVITE YOU IN. I JUST LOVE IT. THE ENGLISH BORN ARTIST BEGAN HIS CAREER AS A GRAPHIC DESIGNER when PAINTING CALLED HIS NAME. DEPICTING SUREAL SCENES SET IN MID CENTURY HOMES, BECK PROVIDES PLENTY OF ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION, CREATING WORK THAT IS CINEMATIC, INTRIGUING, AND FUN. WE SPOKE TO THE ARTIST ABOUT WHAT INSPIRES HIM, HIS PROCESS, AND WHAT HE LOOKS TO ACCOMPLISH WITH HIS WORK.
"I OFTEN THINK OF MY PAINTINGS AS SOMETHING LIKE A STILL FROM A MOVIE SCENE. I'D LIKE TO THINK THAT VIEWING MY PAINTINGS ENCOURAGES VIEWERS TO INVENT THIER OWN NARRATIVE FOR WHAT PRECEDED OR FOLLOWED THE DEPICTED MOMENT."
- ANDREW BECK
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF ART?
I'm not sure if this really counts as art but I can remember a time when I was at school aged six, On what must have been a very rainy day, staying inside during playtime and drawing loads of Napoleonic soldiers with my friend. The winner of the battle was decided after counting up who'd drawn the largest army, I forget who actually won.
WHAT CALLED YOU TO BECOME AN ARTIST?
Since I was young I've always known I wanted to do something to do with drawing or painting. It was always my main interest throughout school; I ended up going down the path of graphic design for many years. Throughout my career I was involved with illustration, animation, websites and computer games, all screen based work. I was probably aged around 30 when I realized that I missed making paintings, something more tangible than working on computers. So I got my old easel out and started painting in my spare time.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR WORK, MEDIUM, SUBJECTS, ETC?
I mostly work in oils. It's such a versatile medium, bound only by the limits of your imagination. As I've always had a fascination with architecture I started off painting modernist buildings and I usually populated these with figures taken from darker situations. I'm interested in creating a feeling of unease in my paintings, as if something is just slightly off. Recently I've been drawn to painting subjects such as palm trees, tigers, burning cars and modernist houses with pools. I think for me painting has often been a form of escapism, I'm more interested in painting the unusual rather than documenting the world around me.
DO YOU ACTIVELY SEEK OUT INSPIRATION OR DOES IS JUST COME TO YOU?
I think like most people inspiration can come from anywhere, experiences, books, films, dreams or conversations. Anything can trigger an idea, I'll usually gather a bunch of images from certain subjects and start to arrange them like a digital collage on my laptop. In my painting REFLECTION for example, I had this really nice image of a postcard from a motel in the 1960s. It featured a couple of figures seated in the shade of a parasol beside a swimming pool. I was looking for an interesting building that I could combine into the scene, then I realized that some of the images of burning cars that I'd been collecting would make a perfect contrast with the relaxed demeanor of the figures. I also changed the backdrop to make it feel more like a secluded jungle setting than a roadside motel. So in that instance the idea was formed as I started putting things together.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WORK?
The first studio space I shared happened to be next door to that of an excellent painter called Jake Wood Evans, we became pretty good friends and I probably learnt quite a lot from him during those years. One of my favorite contemporary painters is Lars Elling, his work is always mysterious and compelling with a unique sense of color. I like looking at work by some of the greats such as Sargent, Sorollo and Zorn, it's fascinating to see how and where they simplify to depict form in their paintings.
WHEN LOOKING AT YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE US TO CONSIDER?
I often think of my paintings as something like a still from a movie scene, I'd like to think that viewing my paintings encourages viewers to invent their own narrative for what preceded or followed the depicted moment.
TAKING ON THE TASK OF BECOMING AN ARTIST IS NO SMALL FEAT, WHY DID YOU DO IT?
I'm very lucky that my wife has always been very supportive of my painting, which over the years has become such an important part of my life. When we moved to Canada our kids were at the age where they were just starting school and my wife returned to full time employment, so I took the opportunity to put design work on hold and follow my passion and try painting full time. It took a while before I really got anywhere but I stuck with it and now I can truthfully say that I've got the best job in the world. So for me it was definitely worthwhile taking the chance.
IS IT HARD TO PART WAYS WITH YOUR WORK? KNOWING FOR MOST YOU'LL NEVER SEE IT AGAIN?
It's a double edged sword, of course I often miss them when they're gone but if I kept them all we'd soon run out of room. Besides that, I feel quite honored to think that some people enjoy my work enough to have it hanging on their walls at home.
YOUR ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR HUMANITY?
Try to use your allocated time wisely.
Text: JC RODRIGUEZ
Illustrations: ANDREW BECK