Artist Interview: James Klinge
After graduating Art College with a degree in Illustration and Printmaking, Glasgow born James Klinge realised that his career would be much preferable as an artist rather than an illustrator. In hind sight he always knew that.
During his time in art college James became absorbed by working with stencils to create work and began to teach himself how to utilise this technique. Instantly becoming addicted to the process and challenge of capturing intense and intricate detail from hand cutting multi-layered stencils James has managed to build a career that has allowed him to work with global brands and exhibit his work across the UK in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol and London as well as internationally in several cities in Australia.
Q) Your latest body of work features self-portraits, often dark, moody and textural, what inspired these works?
Having made the decision to drop the artist pseudonym of "Klingatron" at the start of 2016 in order to continue my artistic career with my real name it felt appropriate to create a body of self-portrait works to take a step back and look at who I am and that is James Klinge.
Over the past year there has been a conscience change in my work to become so much more expressive and textural and with that comes my interest in to the darker, more atmospheric elements of portrait painting. This is something that I have always been interested in, even from a young age when admiring and creating work, as I enjoy looking at the works of Bacon, Schiele and Saville for example. To me it allows the viewer to raise more questions about the subject in the painting and with this body of self-portrait paintings I feel I am using my art as a language to articulate a personal darkness, whilst also in the knowledge that I like the aesthetic of the work I am creating because of this influence and will continue to do so.
Q) Can you tell us about the beautiful Tiger mural in Glasgow? The street art must be a very different approach to works on canvas?
The tiger mural in Glasgow ( "Tiger Style" ) I created was commissioned by Glasgow City Council on a wall along the banks of The River Clyde in the heart of the city. There was was not really any different approch to how I tackled this mural to how I would a large canvas, except that there was a lot more stencils to be cut and that I would be spray painting 4.5 meters up a ladder for some parts. The other issue with painting a mural like this is that I have to spend a lot of time checking the weather, the west of Scotland isn't the sunniest
Q)How do you think your artistic practice has changed since you began painting?
There has been a massive change in my work over the past 12 years, more so now than ever. The work has always been created with hand-cut stencils being the foundation but my older paintings previously focus on urban landscapes, market stalls and dark lanes but without any of the expressive strokes and drips you see in my work today. Some onlookers of my works at exhibitions would think they were looking at photographs and not realise the hours of stencil cutting that went in to creating the image. The problem for me was that I knew exactly how the finished painting was going to look even before paper was cut, there was no obvious personal expression that remained on the canvas after the painting was finished, unlike now. Now I have to figure out when to stop working on a painting.
Q) Do you utilise any unusual equipment or painting techniques in your creative process?
My process starts off with a photgraph which is worked on and then printed out and I then begin the process of cutting each broken down layer of the image with a scalpel blade, imagine it like cutting out the seperate layers of a screen print. The cutting of the stencils is the longest part of the process but I lose track of time when working on the stencils. Stencils can be re-used and editions of originals could be made, however, for me once every painting is finished I destroy the stencils so that there can be no reproductions of the original piece.
Q) Which contemporary artists do you admire / find inspiring and why?
Whilst at school I became very fond of the work of Peter Howson who continues to be one of my favourite artists. Finding Howson allowed me to discover the work of Ken Currie who creates dark to near scary portraits that I continue to enjoy viewing. The combination of detail and expression is something that I am fond of in the work of Connor Harrington, much the same said for the work of Jake Wood-Evans. Antony Micallef and Tom French are two artists that have such an energy about them that I constantly like their Instagram posts.
Q) Can you tell us about your studio environment - where do you like to work and what helps you to focus?
I am so happy when in my studio. I'm in my studio every day doing something whether throwing paint on to canvas or cutting my stencils, even just to have a coffee and browsing through a book or watching an art documentary I'm always there at some point. I've got my shelves stacked with spray paint and a fridge full of Red Bull for those long shifts, there is a small sofa next to my desk which I custom built to suit how I work away at cutting and store my stencils and there is a bed for my dog. My studio is in a rural location 30 minutes west of Glasgow which is perfect for taking the dog for a quiet walk when I want to clear my head. My studio environment and the fact I love what I do for a living helps me focus on my work, I wouldn't want to do anything else.
Q) What exciting new projects do you have on the horizon?
Following the Self-Portrait paintings I am already planning my next body of figurative paintings and starting to think of ideas for a solo exhibition I have in the West of Scotland in 2017. There also my be opportunites in the very near future to paint some more murals within Glasgow.
Q) How important is choosing the right canvas surface when completing your work?
I need to feel comfortable and happy with the canvas I am working on, it has to be of good quality so that I don't leave my studio frustrated. I like to attack a canvas, throwing paint on it with a swift blow and then move the paint around with the sharpe edge of my pallete knife. The canvas and stretcher has to be able to cope with this attack and the canvases I order from John Jones always do. I ordered my first large canvas from John Jones two years ago and was amazed by the quality of both the cotton canvas and the craftsmanship that went into creating the stretcher. Needless to say this high standard of quality is what keeps me returning to order canvases from John Jones, especially for large scale canvases.
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