INTERVIEW: ANDREW PIERRE HART
An interdisciplinary artist based in painting, the focus of Andrew’s work is the symbiotic relationship between sound and art. Having worked in music for many years, Andrew concentrated on painting later in his career, recently completing an MA at RCA.
In this written and unedited interview, as Andrew views his writing as a part of his practice, we invited Andrew to explore some of the dominant themes in his work. He shares his experience of running a record label, how it was contributing to an exhibition during the recent lockdown, and his love of socks.
Turnbull: You began your career in music, can you please tell us a bit more about this and how you eventually found your way into art?
Andrew: Influenced by the 80s & 90s music cultures from soul, rare groove, funk, early rap and then the following rave scene, music was always a part of the culture. Particular styles followed the music, so the scenes were very healthy with style, context & growing communities of like minds. I started a record label that allowed me & friends to release music. My music was particularly well received in the UK, Holland, Germany & Detroit these were days when underground was really something and only a few people knew what was really hot. To have a label still meant using the artistic skills that I learnt on the way. To satisfy the guilt of dropping out of my A -level Art, Business Studies and Law studies straight after school - I would always include the artistic element through label design and interesting and playful ways to release & promote the music. Through my adventures in recording electronic music, I ended up meeting a group of creatives including Chris Ofili, David Adjaye (went to the same school) Charlie Williams (poet & musician) and the two of the three musicians from Attica Blues - the meeting was inspirational. Meeting Chris Ofili at the time was like a dream but also helped in the revisiting of studying the arts!
You describe the focus of your work as exploring ‘the symbiotic relationship between sound and painting.’ And you often speak of these mediums as languages that interconnect and converse through your work. Could you please explain a bit more about this relationship?
Anything that communicates to the senses, to me, is a type of language. It is really down to how one understands the ideas of communication. To think in this way, in the same way, different modes of dressing communicate - from power-dressing to dressing down to being smart-casual, they all say something of yourself and of what you want to say or not. Everything I make is an exploration. They are all happening in the world we live in, so they share time and space that connects them on different plateaus. Music and sound connect in a plethora of ways, from the languages that are the same - words like colour, composition, texture etc. In my research on my Masters in Painting at the Royal College of Art, I met, researched, and worked with Alanna, a synesthetic bassoonist, from the Royal College of Music. I learnt a lot about colour and colour response through our various engagements and research. Through this, I learnt more about the overlapping of senses or cross-modality, and this became very prevalent in the way I work, think, and make naturally - inter/multidisciplinary is a cross-modal way of thinking and way to live our lives.
Your most recent exhibition 'The Abstract Truth of Things', a two-person show with Charmaine Watkiss, just finished at Tiwani Contemporary in London. Tell us a bit more about the exhibition, for those that were unable to attend, and how was it organising it under the restrictions of a global pandemic?
Curated by Adelaide Bannerman, the show comprised of large scale & small drawings, and cyanotypes by Charmaine Watkiss. I showed five large paintings and a set of hand-built speakers. Through making the show, distinct themes came through the colour blue, jazz & a sense of the esoteric mysteries. The curator sensed this connection through our work, and because of the time, we were able to really talk. Through digital platforms, we were able to slowly develop ideas, themes, trust and a sharing of knowledge and music. The show finished recently, and we still send each other music clips and other relating bits of info. Music, along with colour, and ideas around the figurative and abstraction, this was a major theme in many ways. We knew our tastes were similar, but we were also able to enlighten each other of personal gems and favourites. With this, we developed a 36-song playlist that is the backdrop or atmosphere/temperature for the show. The process shaped by the times was a very good way of developing ideas, an exhibition, and friendships. I recommend getting to know the artists that you are showing with it becomes more wholesome rather than just being thrown together to get on with it. Although, the spontaneity of that can be interesting but less fulfilling, maybe.
Installation view: The Abstract Truth of Things | Charmaine Watkiss & Andrew Hart | Tiwani Contemporary | 23 July – 12 September 2020 Photo Credit: Deniz Guzel
A substantial part of your practice exists in community happenings and live performance, has the pandemic shifted your thinking on this? And if so, how?
The times have pushed us to be more creative with the space and time that we have. Some things have become more accessible, but maybe less of a visceral, corporeal experience. And that is needed, but I have seen stuff all over the world that I would never have seen. So, it has brought the work closer, but maybe not the people. But to see a Pina Bausch work online, to see some of the most exciting artists around the world in interesting online debates, to see amazing artists films is something but I also appreciate the backdrop this exists in. Many works were temporarily made available. It is good for particular formats, but 'in person' is always the best way to see a painting or an installation, we can do this safely as galleries are proving. As far as my own work, anything I do online needs to be interesting and pushing the possibilities. At the moment I’m working with under 25s on a sound-based workshop, and I enjoy the challenge of making it interesting and push the boundaries of what we can do online.
In October, you will be joining our Creative Director Becky French and others to explore the colour blue as part of our London Craft Week online panel. We expect you will go into more detail on the night; however, please tell us some of your thoughts on the colour blue and how and why you use it in your work? We are intrigued by the title of your Secret Blueberry series, also.
I have no explanation for what the colour blue is, particularly in my work, but there is a sense of mystery with the deeper tones of blue. They remind me of the night sky. If you look closely, you can see lots of hues at night. We always assume it is just black. On closer looking, there is so much more to see if you take a little time you can see it. Oh, and the Secret Blueberry series was the work for my degree show, I wanted the show to be the first time anyone had seen the work. I worked late at night when my fellow painters went home so they would not see the colour or technique, they would have a completely fresh experience of the work. In the same way, when we see new shows, we have a particular experience of seeing something for the very first time.
Your expert use of colour and texture translates into the way you dress. And we hear you have an enviable collection of socks. How would you describe your style, and what was your favourite piece from the shoot and why?
Nice question, the sock thing is funny, it is a quirk I share with my girlfriend. It was as though our socks met across the room. My style is ‘painting practical meets gallery neat.' My favouriting piece is between the jacket & the shirt both blue, very well fitted, felt very comfortable with attention to material & detail that I look for in clothes!
Discover more at andrewpierrehart.com