Who is Lisa Denyer and what does she do???
I’d describe myself as a painter who generally makes small scale work fusing gestural marks with geometric elements. Through abstraction, the work explores the polarities of a slow, considered painting process against the sensory overload of daily life. It relates to the body, the spaces we inhabit, and the visuals we are presented with, including the influence of post digital aesthetics.
Where did you grow up and what do you call home now??
I grew up in Watford in the UK. I’ve been living in Berlin for the past two years, but I would always call Manchester home because I lived there for six years before moving to Berlin.
Did you grow up in a creative household?? Any other family members share the same path as you?
Yes, it was creative - Mum made cakes for a living; wedding cakes, birthday cakes, all kinds. I think my paintings actually take a lot from that because I make them on the horizontal just like a cake, using some of the tools used for icing to apply paint.
Three words to best describe your aesthetic?
Paint, colour, materiality.
Have you always been an artist at heart? Was that what you wanted to be when you were young?
Yes absolutely, it’s something I’ve always done.
You studied Fine Arts at Coventry University?? Did you enjoy your time there? What is the most valuable thing you learnt?
I loved my time at Coventry University. It was great fun, and it made me determined to continue in this profession. One of the most valuable things I learnt was the importance of a good network.
Describe the creative process behind some of your work?? What materials do you prefer to use?
I use wood, hardboard, sandpaper, plywood and clay amongst others. I wouldn’t mind incorporating some fabrics into the work at some point. I like experimenting with any surface that feels good/interesting to paint on, which is why I paint directly onto sandpaper, and at the other end of the scale, tiles. I usually start by putting down some spontaneous brushstrokes which give me something to respond to when I begin introducing the geometric element.
Do you have a special place you like to create?
Not really, no. Moving to Berlin and moving around from studio to studio and doing various residencies has taught me that as long as I have the right tools and materials, it’s possible to make work anywhere.
I’m not saying that’s always a comfortable way to work, it can be stressful to work in a new space especially alongside other people, but sometimes stress and a new environment does the work good.
Would you say there are other artists/designers that you have been taught or inspired by?
I admire fashion designers more and more. I think some pieces by Pam Hogg are completely wild and amazing, and it makes me feel that I want that kind of audaciousness and energy in my own work. I’m always looking for an immediate emotive, tactile response like that.
Where do you get your inspiration and motivation? Do you have any rituals or routines you stick by when you work???
Things I see on a daily basis seep into the work. When I’m starting new paintings, it’s really important that I tidy the studio first so that I can think straight and have space to let the work flow. When I start, I make a coffee and put on BBC Radio 6 Music. I like to work on four paintings at a time. I do have certain processes and colours that I can use to get me out of difficult situations, but I always want to push the work forward so I try not to rely on those safety nets all the time.
You paintings are often described as having a correlation to the digital realm and technology, what’s the interest there?
I think all visual artists are influenced by the digital in some capacity. It’s something you just can’t avoid, it’s around us all day, every day so it’s bound to effect ideas about composition and colour. My interest lies in the contrast between something that exists in the virtual realm against the very physical, textural qualities of painting.
Escapism seems to be a word that pops up a lot in relation to your work? Can you talk about this on a personal level??
I find certain points in the painting process very meditative and contemplative. There are moments, although few and far between, when it’s like you’re not even the one who’s making the work. When something unpredictable happens and it’s completely right for the painting, that’s the most amazing feeling ever, and that’s why I make the work. I think about creating little scenarios or scenes in my paintings, like a snapshot of the journey these shapes are making across the picture plane. I often think about the novel Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott as I’m figuring out the composition.
One book, one movie, one track?
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Howl’s Moving Castle (the book by Diana Wynne Jones is great too!), track - I’ve been listening to Donnie Darko by Let’s Eat Grandma.
What puts a smile on your face?
PKB Coffee in Manchester. Delicious :)
Aside from art do you have any other passions/loves???
Yoga and pilates. I like to read, especially dystopian fiction.
What’s on the horizon for Lisa Denyer?