All Art is Political
(Amatoritsero Ede in conversation with William Patrick)
Amatoritsero Ede: It is a pleasure having this conversation with you. First could you give us an idea of your training in, and approach to, art?
William Patrick: Thank you for having me, the pleasure is all mine. My fine art training began in London Ontario at the H.B. Beal Secondary in the Special Arts program at Beal Art. After High school I went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I received a Bachelors of Fine Art, majoring in Interdisciplinary Arts. Finally, I just graduated from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec where I received a Masters in Fine Art in Painting and Drawing. My approach to art – painting in particular – is varied. Usually I want to challenge myself both technically and conceptually. Finding inspiration in 19th and 20th century Western painting, I often find a starting point through other artists and their methods of composition and paint handling. From there I apply those methods to themes that are of interest to me. My current work is reminiscent of Romanticism, Realism, Symbolism and Illustration.
A.E.: How would you describe your career at the moment; what stage are you in?
W.P.: My career at the moment is just beginning, I am getting involved in group shows, applying for solo shows, as well as grants and commissions. In order to pay the bills I work as a set painter for theatre companies and as an assistant painter for public outdoor murals.
A.E.: There is a realistic touch to your artworks that reminds me of illuminism. Is there a connection to that; how would you describe your style?
W.P.: I wouldn’t say I have got any connection to illuminism, but I only learnt of it through your last featured artist, there could be more connections than I know. My style is Romantic-Realist Illustration with a touch of the Fantastic.
A.E.: I refer specifically to your latest body of work, “The Lost,” which appears in the gallery that accompanies this conversation. Compared to your previous work, there seems to be increased and tremendous energy in that collection. To what would you ascribe this?
W.P.: “The Lost” is my thesis exhibition; it represents my final year of study. I believe the energy that you describe can be attributed to the number of hours I spent on the work, developing preparatory studies, finding the right sources and staying committed to the body of work and allowing each painting to assist the other throughout their creation and completion. These paintings were created with the intention of being backdrops for a one-person tableau performance, the characters being descriptive of potential narratives of the landscapes. The combination of painting and performance created a new direction of my interest in narrative and interdisciplinary practice.
A.E.: I note that you have had several group and individual exhibitions. How have they contributed to your growth as an artist?
W.P.: Every show has been very different; the most important aspects of these exhibitions have been the criticism of viewers, their feedback, their feelings and observations. These have always motivated me; they have shown me things I had never scene before in my own work. That is the challenge and the reward.
A.E.: Sometimes artist make political statements with their work. I will give just two examples. Pablo Picasso’s protested against all forms of war through his painting titled, ‘Guernica.’ This was a response to the bombing of the Spanish city of Guernica in 1937 by German and Italian warplanes during the Spanish civil war. Jean-Michel Basquiat supported class struggle, critiqued colonialism and racism and supported class struggle. Is there any political or philosophical message in any of your artworks?
W.P.: I try to stay clear of any political ideology or philosophy in art. My approach can at times seem tongue in cheek with regards to past movements and their affiliation to historical events, but I am not an overtly political person and I don’t want to let whatever political views I have guide my creative practice. All that is to say that I do believe in the adage that “the personal is political,” and that my work might have more political or philosophical significance with time. I had to carefully consider my choices in landscapes in relation to environment, local development, and the romantic connection to the past. For example, in the painting “Chinatown,” I wanted to describe the vibrancy, romance, multiple ethnic, social and economic backgrounds meet.
A.E.: What new directions are you exploring or what projects are in the pipeline?
W.P.: Currently my work has gotten much smaller, I am painting still life and I like it. I hope to explore painting, performance and video, and I want to make small figurative sculptures of mixed material. What I want is all over the place; I just need the time, space and money to make it happen.
A.E.: How vibrant would you say the Montreal art scene is; are there rooms for flourishing?
W.P.: The Montreal art scene is very vibrant, and there is always room for flourishing.
A.E.: We wish you more successes and thank you for taking time away from the canvas to have this chat.
W.P.: Thank You