An Interview with Studio artist Andrew Gifford

Bridgeman Studio speak to innovative landscape painter, the Sheffield-born Andrew Gifford about his work and influences.

 

Paharganj Bazaar, Delhi I 2017, oil on canvas

 

Hill above the Tea Plantations, Kerala 2017, oil on board

 

 

1. What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?

My earliest memory of an art work is the prints that my father put up around the house in the early seventies. Whenever I walk into any house or place with prints or paintings I always look at them, but back when I was 3 or 4 years old I used to stare at these prints for hours. I still know them all so well. Over the years I have seen all of them in the flesh in galleries around the world each time getting a strong strange sensation, a bit like bumping into a very close friend after a long absence. There was a 1901 Picasso blue period called Mother - a haunting image of a mother with her two children moving hurriedly through a landscape. There was a grey Utrillo Paris cityscape, a Van Gogh sunflowers, and a Lowry amongst others. I must have spent days looking at these paintings. There were no daytime tv or tablets back then...

2. Where did you study?

I did an art foundation course at York, then studied painting for 4 years at Newcastle University,  which was great and had just enough structure to actually teach you something.

3. What is your favourite time of day to be in your studio?

My favourite time to paint in the studio is late. I usually arrive at about 10 and leave at 6 ish, but I often do my best work when I stay late. I paint a lot outside at every hour too. Painting in rapidly changing light gives a natural urgency and energy to the work.

4.Tell us about your recent show at John Martin Gallery, which are your favourite paintings from the show and why?

I have recently had a major show of nearly 60 paintings that I made in India over the last year, at the John Martin Gallery on Albemarle street in London. India was an incredible place to paint and I have many favourite paintings because of the adventures that I had while painting them. If I were to select a few favourites by looking a bit more detachedly at the show, then I would say the large paintings of the Paharganj bazaar in Delhi show a progression in my style. I spent a long time on them , scraping off paint, re applying it, adding glazes and throwing paint on. Up close the surfaces are rich and full of energy. I am very conscious of trying to keep my mark making dynamic in the studio, and if I'm not feeling it then I'll do some underpainting or something else. Other favourite paintings include some early ones that I made of the 'Blue City'  Jodphur, Street corner Jodphur  and Woman with a shopping bag both depict the beauty of normality in India. I mean nothing is particularly ' normal ' in India but I do try to bring the beauty out of the everyday.

 

Shop in Last Light, Pondicherry 2018, oil on board

 

Sunset over Jama Masjid I 2017, oil on canvas

I made a nice painting showing how insanely busy India is, called Under the flyover near the flower market in Kolkata. It was so busy that I asked a traffic cop if I could paint from his police box and they were very obliging. There is a quite Hopperesque night painting that I made in Pondicherry of a Temple, where a second hand furniture seller set me up with a table and chair to paint with on the road side. The people of India have such generous spirits. Another good night painting was of a Christmas decorations shop in Pondicherry, which was a difficult painting to make. I had to use a head torch on a dark street. I think I have captured the coloured artificial light flooding out of the shop onto the street quite well. A guy in the crowd watching was so excited by it that he insisted on giving me a lift back to my hotel on his motor bike. I had my heavy painting bag and the wet painting, which nearly got blown out of my hands as he weaved like a lunatic through the crazy late night traffic..

There  are many paintings that I think were successful from India, and each have a story.

 

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata 2018, oil on board

 

Dappled Street, Pondicherry 2018, oil on board

 

5. You travel alot, which country have you most enjoyed painting?

I have been to many many countries painting - in North and South America, Europe, the middle East,  and the far East. Most have been interesting for different reasons.  Yemen  was amazing and quite scary, with incredibly enthusiastic generous people, beautiful buildings in Sanaar (the capital), but a lot of serious automatic weapons everywhere. Sadly it's quite war torn now and impossible to visit. Aman in Jordan was exciting. Jerusalem and Ramallah in Palestine were incredible places to paint in. So intense and at times so full of life and love, then at times full of hate or sorrow. I produced good paintings in these places, as I did in Istanbul. India was probably the most sensually shocking place. Monkok in Hongong was intense. New York produced good results, particularly a series that I made from a hotel, holed up in Queens in a huge snow storm.

It's really difficult  to say a favourite. I loved painting in France where I lived for 9 years, or northern England where I was born. Everywhere offers different light and different challenges.

6. If you could pick 5 artists, dead or alive, to have dinner with, who would they be and why?

If I could choose 5 artists to have to dinner, just thinking quickly: Leonardo [da Vinci], Vincent [van Gogh], Francis Bacon, Picasso and Freda Kahlo. These are not necessarily all my favourite artists, but add a few bottles of decent wine and I'm sure it would be an interesting evening (tricky seating plan...)

 

Find out more

Andrew Giffords 'India' exhibtion at the the John Martin Gallery

Andrew Gifford on Instagram

 


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