Canadian Artist, based in, Toronto, Canada, Painting & Drawing: Alexander Jowett
1) What Artbooks are you currently looking at?
While I read lots of art books quite often, I also spend a lot of time doing research fornew seriesin which I spend a lot of time reading non-art-related books. Currently, Ihave been doingquite a bit of research on textiles for my next series ‘Le Baptemedela Solitude’ and am reading Indigo (Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans) about the history and trade of Indigo dye throughout the ages. It’s a pretty fascinating book. Also, I just read Boro, on the Japanese art of stitching and patching rags to repair and make everything from futon covers to kimonos. A couple of other books I have been reading these days are The Infinite Line: remaking art after modernism and Agnes Martin: paintings, writings, remembrances. Both are great insights into simplicity, infinity, and a less-is-more aesthetic, which I aspire to in my own work. I am trying to get my hands on a Lee Ufan book of hiswritings butAmazon keeps delaying sending it. Over the past year or so I have been slowly reading Art as Therapy by Alain deBotton whichis a philosophy book that delves into how art can help people in their day to day lives as a guide and in a therapeutic sense.
2) What was the last truly inspiring Artbook you saw?
Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons, was a great book for me. I have always lovedCy Twombly’s work buthad never really delved into it. This book gives little historiesintohis work and process and inspirations, on a piece by piecebasis whichreally helps the pieces come alive much more. I think a lot of people dismiss Twombly as being too simplistic and primitive when actually he was quite the opposite. Expressing himself with scribbles andcolourin a very visceral way, obviously many people won’t get it. However, when we learn the little histories of a piece they become much more informed and interesting. I’m sure many people might look at my own pieces and think they are just lines or simplifications of Seascapes etc. But, if they spend a little time delving into where they come from one can discover that they are all essentially philosophically-based ‘aesthetic essays’ as I like to call them. Kant, spirituality,buddhistphilosophies etc.areall there if people allow themselves to see it. It isn’t necessary in enjoying thepieces butit does add layers for people to discover and when they do the work definitely becomes more engrossing.
3) Give us the name of your favourite overlooked or underappreciated Artist?
There are so many overlooked and under appreciated artists these days, and those numbers are only just going to get larger as more and more great artists contribute to the world of art. However, one artist in particular, Giorgio Griffa, would probably fall into that category more than anyone.Griffahas been living and showing his work quietly in Turin, Italysincethe70’s buthas only had two shows in the USA. His recent one was attacked by Hurricane Sandy and many of his works were destroyed by flooding, as they weren’t saved in time which was very unfortunate, not to mention costly. He creates very simple, yet elegant and beautiful pieces with an economy of means that likely throws people off but I think his pieces are very striking and will likely become much more popular in the coming years as he seems to be gaining some long-awaited recognition now, in his later years.
4) What are your Artistic guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre/style?
I have always been jealous ofCaiGuo Giang’s gunpowder paintings. They seem like such fun to create (pouring gunpowder on paper, covering it up and lighting the whole thing up to create a lovely explosive charred drawing that references all kinds of things; from Asian ink drawings to the origins offireworks etc.) Especially in light of my own works that are so laborious and meditative (my larger pieces take about 4-8 weeks to finish.) As a guilty pleasure though I quite like nude photography when done well… Jock Sturges and Michael Dweck do some quite nice pieces.
5) If we came to your studio what would we see?
I live a quite typical traditional ‘bohemian’ artist lifestyle, in that I am in a good sized live/work loft with a Mezzanine level for painting, my own works (in various stages of production) aren leaning on windows, walls or hung all over the place, and depending on the day, either nice and clean or a complete mess. I alsoforpainting, my own works (in various stages of production)arenleaningon windows, walls or hung all over the place, and depending on the day, either nice and clean or a complete mess. I alsodesign lightingso have some pieces like my kayak chandeliers and rope and fur pendant lights hanging throughout the place. I also have a small collection of pieces by artists such as; Miroslav Tichy, Nobuyoshi Araki, Winnie Truong (a young Canadian artist) etc.allclustered in with small pieces I have collected around the world. And, even though my works are quite minimal my space is full of things I have collected from my many years of travelling and shooting (photography) around the world.design lighting so have some pieces like my kayak chandeliers and rope and fur pendant lights hanging throughout the place. I also have a small collection of pieces by artists such as; Miroslav Tichy, Nobuyoshi Araki, Winnie Truong (a young Canadian artist) etc.allclustered in with small pieces I have collected around the world. And, even though my works are quite minimal my space is full of things I have collected from my many years of travelling and shooting (photography) around the world.
6) What’s the best Artbook on (Your nationalities) Art you’ve ever read?
I have Canadian, English and Australian citizenship so that isn’t an easy question to answer. Let’s say Peter Doig, No Foreign Lands,forCanada, Howard Hodgkin: PaintingsforEngland and Contemporary Aboriginal Art, for Australia. Howard Hodgkin and quite a number of Aboriginal artists such as: Rover Thomas, Emily Kangwarreye and Ronnie Tjanpitjinpa have all had an influence on my own works while Peter Doigisjust a great artist that I really enjoy.is just a great artist that I really enjoy.
7) What subject other than Art, are you interested in? That nevertheless informs your work?
I studied philosophy at University so philosophy is definitely my main study that informs my own work. My Horizon Line series are directly influenced by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and his ideas on the line and the spaces in between plus how we see things not by what is presented in front of us but also by past experiences. I do see art as a language in itself so good art communicates through means beyond words.
8) What was the last Artbook that made you happy?
They all do to a certain degree. So long as the art is good and has something to say/ communicate.
9) What was the last Artbook that made you sad?
The Agnes Martin book I mentioned before is a little bit sad. Such a great artist that created suchcalm beautifulpieces of great depth. I wish they had come from a place of greatcalm butit seems that her life was plagued with a number of ailments, not least of which beingmental illness.
10) What kind of person were you as a child?
And what were your favorite childhood memories, which made you an Artist?howhave you grown over the years what has changed what remained the same? I was pretty independent and liked to explore which definitely lead me to travelling the world and into working as a freelance writer and photographer and eventually art. My favourite childhood memories involved travel; spending time at my grandparents house in England, which was a great place for anyone, especially a child, sailing with my father, spending time at our family cottage in Canada, and flying pretty much anywhere.
11) Whom do you consider your Artistic Masters? Do you believe in mastery?
I’m not sure if I do. I think if an artist has truly masteredsomething thenthey are no longer pushing for something new. In one sense Picasso was a master, but he always continued to push himself, and others, to strive to create something new. He didn’t alwayssucceed buthe certainly created something new. If he had believed in his own ‘mastery’ I think he might have stopped trying to push the boundaries and we would have been left with a much less rich body of work. Does that make sense? Matisse would be along similar lines as well.succeed buthe certainly created something new. If he had believed in his own ‘mastery’ I think he might have stopped trying to push the boundaries and we would have been left with a much less rich body of work. Does that make sense? Matisse would be along similar lines as well.
12) Which Artists have had the most impact on you as an Artist? Is there a particular Art Work that made you want to be an Artist? Please upload an image to justify your statement?
This is an interesting question as all my influences are right there in my work, more or less. Let’s start this way: Howard Hodgkin, Mark Rothko, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Agnes Martin are all direct influences to my work for various reasons however, it wasn’t until I saw works by Rover Thomas, Emily Kangewarreye and Ronnie Tjanpitjinpa in Australia when I was younger that my own desires to work on paper and canvas came to fruition. I was and have always been a photographer and so, see things in a quite photographic sense (life framed through a viewfinder) but when I saw how the aboriginal artists were able to portray their culture and experiences, through quite simplemeans, I really wanted to be able to communicate my own stories and experiences in a similar raw, simple way that has great depth of meaning.simple means, I really wanted to be able to communicate my own stories and experiences in a similar raw, simple way that has great depth of meaning.
13) What gear do you use, and how does your gear, support your Artistic vision. How would you describe your Artistic Workflow what software, hardware, storage, & materials and processes do you use?
Coming from photography I had lots of equipment (over 30K of cameras,lenses etc.) and was set to do a show of photos that had to be large scale to work so was going to cost about 12-15K simply to print and frame 12 pieces. Then the recession hit and I decidedtimingwas off so I went back to the drawing board and went all the way back to Picasso who said ‘an artist must be able to create withthe simplestmean possible, (a pen and paper) in order to be able to call oneself an artist. So, I bought some pens and sheets of watercolour paper and started working on the Horizon Lines series. Lots of failures and practice happened for almost a year before I started to get the to a point where I was happy with the results. Nowadays, I still try and work as simply as possible. I generally do the pieces on either watercolour paper or canvas, kneeling on the ground in a meditative position and draw the lines out slowly, one by one. The only line I measure is the first one and the rest are done by eye and feeling. The great thing is how, when you restrict your means of expression, you are able to express quite a lot and in a surprising variety of ways.
14) Do you have any regrets with regards to your Art especially when starting out. What would you do differently?
No! I have always drawn and painted but I didn’t take it seriously until the past few years. I travelled almost non-stop when I was in my twenties andthirties butthat breadth of experience is what makes my work what it is. I am not sure I would have been the same artist had I started sooner.
15) In your genre style of work, what are the challenges/opportunities to your business. How do you envision yourself 5 years from now?
Currently the challenges are creating very minimal, un-internet-friendly works in age of internet dominationforthe art world. Although, surprisingly, despite all that people have been willing to take the risks and buy my pieces online. All have actually been pleasantly surprised in that the actuality of my pieceshave exceededthe expectations.
16) In your Artists Imagination, how do you perceive India. What painting/Drawings would you like to make of Her?
This is actually a funny question for me as I just had a daughter 2 months ago and we named her India. My girlfriend’s grandfather is a Brahman Indian and her father was born in India so it is quite special to her. I have already created a piece, done while my daughter would sleep in front of me, called Poems to the Sea (Indian Ocean Dreaming) which was done as a celebration of my daughter and an homage to India.
Biography In His Own Word
Alexander Jowett is a peripatetic artist who has wandered the world observing and interacting with a global culture. His works focus on universal contemplative themes using minimalist means. After spending over 10 years travelling as a freelance photographer and writer through 40 + countries Jowett was pulled back to Toronto, Canada to do his first solo show at the Spoke Club, in Toronto. He currently resides in Toronto but considers himself more of a global citizen.