The artist Geraint Evans is interviewed here by Robert Priseman – founder of The Priseman Seabrook Collections. The two discuss the influence of suburban Wales, Canadian mountain landscapes, and Ladybird Books on Geraint's paradoxical, illustrative and humorous artwork.
Geraint Evans: On a basic level, I am interested in surprising and unexpected juxtapositions and how they might confound or challenge our perception of the world. This approach can also generate
I think that it is the landscape of suburban Swansea – the suburban outskirts where the built and natural environments meet – rather than a truly ‘wild’ Welsh landscape that has had a more significant influence.
For some time now, I have been interested in the ways in which we encounter and perceive the natural world, particularly from an urban-based position.
Robert: You grew up in Wales, which as we know has a beautiful and ‘wild’ landscape containing many mountains and stretches of coast and which is visited by many tourists each year. I feel that where we come from, the very environment
Geraint: I moved to Swansea when I was one year old. Both my parents are Welsh speakers – my mother grew up in rural West Wales and my dad in a small pit village called Garnant. Welsh culture had a major influence on my work when I was a student. During my BA in
Not long after I left college, I decided to turn my attention to other things but the influence of Wales is still there with references to the Big Apple snack shop in the Mumbles, a car park at the foot of Snowdon, an end-of-pier amusement attraction in Llandudno, the dinosaur park in Dan-yr-Ogof, and a model village in Anglesey. I think that it is the landscape of suburban Swansea – the suburban outskirts where the built and natural environments meet – rather than a truly ‘wild’ Welsh landscape that has had a more significant influence.
When I look at your paintings I’m most reminded of stained glass windows, but interpreted as a secular and ‘existentialist’ twenty-first-century art form.
Robert: How fascinating to hear about the way you have engaged with these multiple external factors in developing your own visual language.
I notice in looking over your work that your painting appears to have undergone a fundamental shift around 2002. After this date, your paintings become more richly textured in terms of both their visual and intellectual content. Can you tell us why?
Geraint: It is interesting that you should say that. I actually think the shift came about three years earlier in 1999. It was at this time, quite by chance, that I began to use the photographs that I had taken during a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada in 1994, a year after graduating from the Royal Academy Schools. The Centre is situated within the Banff National Park, a visually stunning mountain landscape that contains some of Canada’s most celebrated natural sights such as Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. The residency had been a wonderfully stimulating experience but I had needed time and distance to understand how to respond to the landscape within my practice.
Terry, painted in 1999, depicts a fictional amateur artist in his bedsit room making paintings of the Rocky Mountain landscape that he will never visit. The pictorial language of the painting is deliberately flat and stylised and has something of the Sunday painter about it. I put a number of my interests and experiences into the painting – from the trip to
Robert: When I look at your paintings I’m most reminded of stained glass windows, but interpreted as a secular and ‘existentialist’ twenty-first-century art form. What is your feeling about that?
Geraint: I had never thought of it in those terms. Perhaps this has something to do with the work’s appearance – its seemingly flat surface and stylised pictorial language? This developed from an interest in illustration whilst I was still at college – from Ladybird
The work’s use of narrative and the direct approach to
Robert: Which painters do you tend to look to most for inspiration?
Geraint: The David Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain recently reminded me of how important he had been to me when I was a student, whilst historic artists from Van Eyck to Zurbarán to Velázquez are important to me. More apposite are the Hudson River School – Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran – whose work was presented in the exhibition ‘American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States 1820–1880’ at Tate Britain in 2002. I remember this show as a real revelation that opened up lots of ideas about the ways in which artists picture the natural world and how the landscape can be seen in political terms.
I regularly reference a
Robert: It is easy to see from this roll-call of artists how realism,
Geraint: I agree that there is an absurdist quality to the
Robert: Thank you so much for sharing some of your thoughts and ideas with us Geraint.
Robert Priseman, artist, collector, writer,
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