INTERVIEW: Laura Lancaster | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based musician and highly acclaimed artist Laura Lancaster’s new exhibition takes photographs and cine-film footage as inspiration for her paintings.

“I am always thinking of how the subject matter I use will change when painted, how subtle sense of oddness or ambiguity in the photograph or film can be amplified through the act of painting,” Laura explains.

Lancaster removes the detail of formalist painting, whilst retaining huge compositional skill and awareness of form so the figures are still recognizable. “I use the painting process to test myself, leaving odd marks or something uncomfortable in the way the paint describes the image, so marks have become more and more loose over time. I use the logic that if the painting makes me feel a kind of tension, it may translate to the viewer too.”

In regards to audience response, there is a lot to absorb creating vast curiosity into the work. “The painting process is not a passive one, the image moves and distorts as I paint it, allowing this sealed image to become fluid and open ended again. Francis Bacon talked about how he felt that painting should act directly upon the nervous system rather than illustrate reality, and this has always been a big influence on my approach. Often in my paintings you can ‘feel’ or intuit the subject even though it hasn’t actually been described. It’s fascinating to me how little you can put there and people will still understand what the subject is. There is a psychological element to this which interests me.”

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“I use the logic that if the painting makes me feel a kind of tension, it may translate to the viewer too”

Whilst Laura’s use of medium and distortion of image in painting would create an assumption of an affinity with the work of Gerhard Richter, she appears more fired up by what she notes as “artists who break their own rules such as Albert Oehlen or Philip Guston.”

Having herself experienced wide acclaim, with solo exhibitions at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, NADA Art Fair in Miami, Art Basel Hong Kong and several New York galleries, Laura’s work has also been included in international exhibitions and as part of residencies and collections which have toured everywhere from Japan to Dallas, Berlin to South Korea.

Diptychs Montage I and Montage II (due to be shown at her upcoming exhibition at the Workplace Gallery from Saturday 12th September until Saturday 24th October); are created around the subject of cine films and extended to create something very inventive, demonstrating innovation in what Lancaster refers to as the use of “cinematic aspect ratio proportion” as a point of enquiry.

Laura admits that her work is a conduit through which the subject matter is revealed. “I see my painting as being a portrait of the format of the original object, whether that’s Polaroid, Super 8mm film etc., and the ways in which we record our lives becoming obsolete over time. I use analogue, one off original images, which gives them a sense of place in an individual person’s biography and anchors them in time; I like to think of where the photograph or film may have been before I found it. This is not sentimental or nostalgic; it’s just about how the image and object relate to reality.”

Laura Lancaster’s solo exhibition at the Workplace Gallery, Gateshead will be open from Saturday 12th September until Saturday 24th October.

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