Texts from an interview series with art curator Jack Trodd for ‘Brushes With Greatness’.
Part 1 of a short series on exceptional painter Samson Tudor.
Today, Samson’s practice & inspiration. Tomorrow, his thoughts on our current climate.
‘At the heart of my artwork lies an exploration of the human condition, a perhaps futile attempt to decode it.
My practice predominantly utilises narrative, figurative painting, with elements of allegory, as a form of socio-political commentary. Utilising a powerful and distinctive style, I aim to invite debate about the politics of the recent past and present; whilst retaining a sense of ambiguity that ultimately keeps people searching when they’ve finished looking.
My work balances a contemporary tone with an acknowledgement of historical inspirations – with particular reference to the bold style of the German Expressionist movement.’
I’m a huge fan of German Expressionism – especially the works of Beckmann, Kollwitz and Dix.
There’s Rembrandt, Daumier, Stanley Spencer, Lowry, Rego, Francis Bacon, Munch, Hopper – I could look at their work for hours. The most inspiring artwork painting I’ve see is Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ in Madrid, it’s just the most astonishing, powerful painting on such a monumental canvas – impossible to ignore.
I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the artists who inspire my work. I worked alongside Peter Howson in his Glasgow studio and gained some fantastic insights into painting processes and pastel work. I also had the pleasure of talking to John Currin about my work and technique.
These were surreal moments as I remember seeing both their artworks in books many years ago, and being totally fascinated by the idea of painting.
Film and music inspires my work too, notably the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, especially Stalker.
Part 2 of a short series on exceptional painter Samson Tudor.
Today Samson delves into his recent studies. See previous post for some of the works:
My current series is exploring the socio-political climate of the coronavirus pandemic, isolation and the uncertainties of lockdown. Referencing ‘the world as stage’ using imagery and allegories of theatre and surrealism.
How thin the balance between normality and strangeness is – the idea of a dystopia – the unsettling unbalance and unraveling of a normality – the rug pulled beneath and the curtain ripped down.
It’s felt at times like a surreal circus with chaotic, almost carnivalesque possibilities – the rush to stock up and the subsequent paranoia and alienation.
In a lot of my work there are themes of isolation, alienation, chaos and uncertainty – with underlying semi-dystopian tones. And these themes have been so prevalent throughout the pandemic and the various lockdowns, so its been strange revisiting previous work during this period – I now read some of the works differently having gone through the coronavirus pandemic and crisis.
It’s brought about some interesting dualities – mainly the interior vs exterior and the single figure vs crowd (which I guess is lockdown) – and these have always been interesting elements to figure out whist drawing and painting. With the isolation brought about through the lockdowns and restrictions it began to feel strange painting crowd scenes, which I guess is why I’ve focused more on portraiture and single figure work recently.
Thank you Samson for the rare insights into your work.