Frederic Anderson

Frederic Anderson

London, UK
London, UK
CNV00071
© Photo by Xiaoqian Wang
© Photo by Xiaoqian Wang

"Everything in my work points back to
the practice of drawing."

"Everything in my work points back to
the practice of drawing."

Tell us about yourself. How would you introduce yourself to someone who has never seen your work?

I make large abstract paintings depicting various different states of emptiness disturbed by colourful blurred lines, scars, scrapes, bruises and dub-style echoes. The work draws on spontaneous, uninhibited chromatic and compositional choices to generate charged emotional states. It springs from ideas about language, writing and drawing, low-flying unresolved emotional traumas and moments of stillness. The paintings often echo the codes of urban grafitti, not stylistically, but in terms of residues - how different styles of script, different colours and different moods get overlaid, scrubbed back, blanked out and weathered, creating unanticipated textures and juxtapositions - acculumated traces of both expression and censorship. 

Tell us about yourself. How would you introduce yourself to someone who has never seen your work?

I make large abstract paintings depicting various different states of emptiness disturbed by colourful blurred lines, scars, scrapes, bruises and dub-style echoes. The work draws on spontaneous, uninhibited chromatic and compositional choices to generate charged emotional states. It springs from ideas about language, writing and drawing, low-flying unresolved emotional traumas and moments of stillness. The paintings often echo the codes of urban grafitti, not stylistically, but in terms of residues - how different styles of script, different colours and different moods get overlaid, scrubbed back, blanked out and weathered, creating unanticipated textures and juxtapositions - acculumated traces of both expression and censorship. 

How did your interest in art begin? Was it something that you were brought up surrounded by or did it come to you later on?

My great uncle was a well-known painter in Luxembourg when I was growing up so I had this figure of what an artist was looming quite large in my life from early on. In his late nineties, he once answered the door to me wearing a heavy Persian rug tied around his waist like a skirt with a rough piece of rope (he was trying to save money on heating although he was a millionaire). He signed the wall above his doorbell in oil paint like it was one of his paintings. The last four letters were just undecipherable dashes, but everyone knew who he was. Everyone in my family thought he was mad, but I thought he was pretty cool. He told me not to become an artist, that it was too difficult, but I think he was quite proud when I ignored his warning.

How did your interest in art begin? Was it something that you were brought up surrounded by or did it come to you later on?

My great uncle was a well-known painter in Luxembourg when I was growing up so I had this figure of what an artist was looming quite large in my life from early on. In his late nineties, he once answered the door to me wearing a heavy Persian rug tied around his waist like a skirt with a rough piece of rope (he was trying to save money on heating although he was a millionaire). He signed the wall above his doorbell in oil paint like it was one of his paintings. The last four letters were just undecipherable dashes, but everyone knew who he was. Everyone in my family thought he was mad, but I thought he was pretty cool. He told me not to become an artist, that it was too difficult, but I think he was quite proud when I ignored his warning.

Bone craft, owls, orange tetrahedron, 2020, pigments, glue, charcoal, pastel, acrylic and watercolour on canvas, 170x130cm
Potash, bleed, Basildon Bond, 2020, pigments, glue, pastel and watercolour on canvas, 170x130cm
Bone craft, owls, orange tetrahedron, 2020, 170x130cm, pigments, glue, charcoal, pastel, acrylic and watercolour on canvas.
"Bone craft, owls, orange tetrahedron", 2020, pigments, glue, charcoal, pastel, acrylic and watercolour on canvas, 170x130cm
Potash, bleed, Basildon Bond, 2020, 170x130cm, pigments, glue, pastel and watercolour on canvas.
"Potash, bleed, Basildon Bond", 2020, pigments, glue, pastel and watercolour on canvas, 170x130cm

What drives you and your work? What’s your main motivation to go to the studio every morning and paint?

Everything in my work points back to the practice of drawing. Just as the first mark on a blank canvas immediately requires another in response, one drawing demands another, and another, and another… Drawing is the engine that drives my practice, it's a constant source of surprise, innovation, mutation and change. Drawing is my way of engaging with the experience of being in the world. It's the cleanest, most direct, most immediate and most unmediated way of responding to that experience that I know of. It's primal, relentless, powerful.

What drives you and your work? What’s your main motivation to go to the studio every morning and paint?

Everything in my work points back to the practice of drawing. Just as the first mark on a blank canvas immediately requires another in response, one drawing demands another, and another, and another… Drawing is the engine that drives my practice, it's a constant source of surprise, innovation, mutation and change. Drawing is my way of engaging with the experience of being in the world. It's the cleanest, most direct, most immediate and most unmediated way of responding to that experience that I know of. It's primal, relentless, powerful.

Do you have any rituals to get in the right mood to paint?

I used to smoke, and that was an important part of my process at the time. I'd keep my cigarettes at the other side of the studio, away from the paint. Walking to the other end of the room every hour or so helped break up the flow and give me a more detached perspective on the work. I now drink Chinese tea instead. The tea has the inverse effect to the cigarettes, instead of providing distance and perspective, it pushes me deeper into the work, until by the end of the day I've achieved a unique cocktail of clarity, focus, sensitivity and near exhaustion that is absolutely my favourite state of being.

Do you have any rituals to get in the right mood to paint?

I used to smoke, and that was an important part of my process at the time. I'd keep my cigarettes at the other side of the studio, away from the paint. Walking to the other end of the room every hour or so helped break up the flow and give me a more detached perspective on the work. I now drink Chinese tea instead. The tea has the inverse effect to the cigarettes, instead of providing distance and perspective, it pushes me deeper into the work, until by the end of the day I've achieved a unique cocktail of clarity, focus, sensitivity and near exhaustion that is absolutely my favourite state of being.

"Drawing is the engine that drives my practice, it's a constant source of surprise, innovation, mutation and change."

 "Drawing is the engine that drives my practice, it's a constant source of surprise, innovation, mutation and change."

Disgraced walls, preludes, ambivalence, tan, 2019, pigments, glue, charcoal, pastel and acrylic on canvas, 170 x 130cm

 

Disgraced walls, preludes, ambivalence, tan, 2019, 170 x 130cm, pigments, glue, charcoal, pastel and acrylic on canvas.
"Disgraced walls, preludes, ambivalence, tan", 2019, pigments, glue, charcoal, pastel and acrylic on canvas, 170 x 130cm

How do you cope with the alone time in your studio?

Like a fish in the sea or a deer in the forest… actually, if I could find a way to divide my time equally between the studio, the forest and the sea, that would be perfect.

How do you cope with the alone time in your studio?

Like a fish in the sea or a deer in the forest… actually, if I could find a way to divide my time equally between the studio, the forest and the sea, that would be perfect.

Is the environment in which you paint important to you, or are you thinking up projects no matter where you are?

The work is certainly affected by where it's made - different places give rise to different moods and dynamics - it tends in some measure to absorb and incorporate something of the spaces it's made in. Even when I'm not in the studio though, I'm always switched on. Whatever else is happening around me, paintings are getting worked out and grappled with in my head, that's why I don't drive - it would be reckless.

Is the environment in which you paint important to you, or are you thinking up projects no matter where you are?

The work is certainly affected by where it's made - different places give rise to different moods and dynamics - it tends in some measure to absorb and incorporate something of the spaces it's made in. Even when I'm not in the studio though, I'm always switched on. Whatever else is happening around me, paintings are getting worked out and grappled with in my head, that's why I don't drive - it would be reckless.

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Looking at the body of your work, what do you think are the touchstones that people associate it with? What do you hope they are?

I try not to direct people at all in terms of how to respond to the work, ideally, I'd hope for it to be touchstone-free. Of course a lot of stuff gets poured into it from my side, but this all comes in obliquely as the work unfolds rather than being placed there explicitly or planned from the outset. In many ways it's deeply personal - sometimes almost painfully so - but abstracted to such a degree that it becomes something else. A lot of the work arises from the sensation of having the metaphysical rug pulled out from under you, of falling but never touching ground. In this sense, perhaps the touchstones are actually rabbit holes.

Looking at the body of your work, what do you think are the touchstones that people associate it with? What do you hope they are?

I try not to direct people at all in terms of how to respond to the work, ideally, I'd hope for it to be touchstone-free. Of course a lot of stuff gets poured into it from my side, but this all comes in obliquely as the work unfolds rather than being placed there explicitly or planned from the outset. In many ways it's deeply personal - sometimes almost painfully so - but abstracted to such a degree that it becomes something else. A lot of the work arises from the sensation of having the metaphysical rug pulled out from under you, of falling but never touching ground. In this sense, perhaps the touchstones are actually rabbit holes.

What role does chance play in your work? Or do you know early on how you want the result to look like?

I'm embracing chance and improvisation more and more. Sometimes I'll start with a rough idea in mind but this quickly gets abandoned as the work progresses and takes its own direction. That's why drawing is so important for me I think, because it allows you to move and develop so quickly. I love how a series of drawings can evolve and take shape in an entirely unforeseen way over the course of a session, how accidents get folded in, rearranged, edited, deleted and translated into form. The more I let go and let the work take the direction it wants to take, the more I like the results.

What role does chance play in your work? Or do you know early on how you want the result to look like?

I'm embracing chance and improvisation more and more. Sometimes I'll start with a rough idea in mind but this quickly gets abandoned as the work progresses and takes its own direction. That's why drawing is so important for me I think, because it allows you to move and develop so quickly. I love how a series of drawings can evolve and take shape in an entirely unforeseen way over the course of a session, how accidents get folded in, rearranged, edited, deleted and translated into form. The more I let go and let the work take the direction it wants to take, the more I like the results.

"The more I let go and let the work take the direction it wants to take, the more I like the results."

"The more I let go and let the work take the direction it wants to take, the more I like the results."

Dissonance, sleeze, soft power, 2020, pigment, glue, charcoal, pastel, acrylic and watercolour on canvas, 170x130cm
Dissonance, sleeze, soft power, 2020, 170x130cm, pigment, glue, charcoal, pastel, acrylic and watercolour on canvas.
"Dissonance, sleeze, soft power", 2020, pigment, glue, charcoal, pastel, acrylic and watercolour on canvas, 170x130cm

Do you have role models in art? Are there any artists who have influenced
you in particular?

David Ostrowski, Sergei Jenssen, Christopher Wool and Cy Twombly - also Frank Auerbach. I'm attracted to artists with close links to drawing, and that are able to successfully translate the energy and immediacy of drawing into painting. It's a hard thing to do, paint always wants to slow you down.

Do you have role models in art? Are there any artists who have influenced
you in particular?

David Ostrowski, Sergei Jenssen, Christopher Wool and Cy Twombly - also Frank Auerbach. I'm attracted to artists with close links to drawing, and that are able to successfully translate the energy and immediacy of drawing into painting. It's a hard thing to do, paint always wants to slow you down.

What is the best advice you have given or been given in terms of creating
art?

Agnes Martin's advice for young artists comes from a great place. A lot of it is rather esoteric, and in many ways it's very specific to her, but I think that's the point of it for me. You get a real sense that it's hard-won advice written by someone trying their best to get past all the surface noise and arrive at very root of what it means to make paintings. Some of it is transferrable, some of it isn't, but it's the level of introspection, reflection, humbleness and honesty that she brings to it that really stays with me.

What is the best advice you have given or been given in terms of creating
art?

Agnes Martin's advice for young artists comes from a great place. A lot of it is rather esoteric, and in many ways it's very specific to her, but I think that's the point of it for me. You get a real sense that it's hard-won advice written by someone trying their best to get past all the surface noise and arrive at very root of what it means to make paintings. Some of it is transferrable, some of it isn't, but it's the level of introspection, reflection, humbleness and honesty that she brings to it that really stays with me.

Thank you very much for your time, Frederic.

 

Links: Frederic's Instagram & Website

 

Thank you very much for your time, Frederic.

 

Links: Frederic's Instagram & Website

 

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