I am an artist and an architect. I grew up in South Africa and moved to the UK almost twenty years ago, where I work from a small studio in London.
I always wanted to be Jackson Pollock. From the first time I watched that famous video of him dripping paint onto a canvas, I was hooked.
I remember a younger version of me staring at his canvas in a gallery, being saturated by its beautiful chaos and feeling my inner anarchist screaming with joy.
Fortunately, life has not allowed me to follow in his footsteps.
Before my 21st birthday, my parents sat me down and told me, “Son, we have bad news for you : we’re poor and you’re going to have to go work for a living” In a state of shock, I asked, ” does this mean I have to leave home and join the army? ”
“Oh gosh no! ” they replied, “we’re just not going to pay for you to go to art school and spend your life painting nude girls or smoking weed. You’re going to have to choose a real career”
By real career, I think they meant an accountant or engineer. We compromised and I studied architecture.
From then, I spent my twenties painting water colours and building beautiful houses for wealthy people. In my thirties I became more serious, building high rise buildings and making serious decisions for serious people. Architecture was a good place for me, I have always been inspired by big systems and cities and how us tiny individuals live inside them.
So after nearly twenty years of living and working in this head space and profession of architecture, I found that I had something to say about the way we live inside urban systems.
I still want to throw paint at a canvas, but I now start with other many ideas. My pieces begin as structured compositions, like a Piet Mondrian canvas. They quickly evolve, becoming dynamic patterns which interact and generate their own complexities. The final forms resemble something like a Bridget Riley “Op Art” piece or a Sol Lewitt conceptual wall painting. The similarities in style are not surprising, considering how close in time and topic my pieces are to theirs. My paintings even use Seurat’s Pointillist technique to deliberately accentuate complexity with colour. And each painting is a fully conceptual process, using digital scripts to generate forms which emerge almost autonomously, similar to the interactions of gravity and momentum as paint drips onto a canvas.
I consider machines, computers, pencils and paint brushes to have equal value to the modern world. My work uses computer controlled routing machinery to carve relief patterns into sheets of wood and acrylic. The sculptural quality of the final surface reminds me of architectural components, city forms and industrial production.
I’m grateful that the world has allowed me to make art at the scale and complexity which these ideas require.