Benjamin Murphy talks to Anita Klein

We asked our friend, the artist Benjamin Murphy conduct a series of interviews with the artists we've been working with over 2016 so far. Here's his interview with Anita Klein

BM - For those that might not know, please explain who you are and what you do.

AK - I am a painter and printmaker based in London and Italy. For the past 30 years I have used visual art to document my everyday life, a bit like a visual diary, and in doing so I hope to celebrate the ordinary. 

BM - Have you always been so creative?

AK - I have always used drawing to express how I feel

BM – You paint the female form a lot, are they particular individuals or are they intended to be more universal?

AK- My pictures are essentially self-portraits, but are not intended to necessarily look like me. I paint from feelings and memories, without any visual reference. As I don't use models or photographs I am trying to capture what things feel like to me rather than what they look like. As I inhabit a woman's body it is natural that I use the female form as that is the only one I know from the inside. I hope people see themselves and not me. The faces are deliberately mask-like as I am not interested in individual features, but I hope I am expressing and celebrating some things we all have in common. 

BM – The paintings are often cropped so that the figure fills almost all of the canvas, and what background is visible is left relatively undetailed. Is this a way of focusing the viewers attention upon the figure, or is it used for some other means?

AK - composition, by which I mean the design of the picture, is very important to me. All figurative paintings are both a window on the world and an object themselves. I prefer my pictures to be more objects than windows- so that they have a certain kind of intensity, a bit like icons. For a painting to be seen as a powerful object it is important that the edges are not in arbitrary places, ie that there is a reason for where the picture begins and ends. One way of achieving this is to bring the subject matter very close to the picture plane. I am not interested in perspective, or even in bodies having the correct proportions. All the decisions I make in a painting are subservient to its design and whether it is satisfyingly balanced as an abstract composition. This allows to viewer to look without being distracted by imbalance. 

BM - How much do you rely on spontaneity and happenstance when painting?

AK - as I said, I am quite calculating about design. However within that, my choices of colours and the emotional content of my pictures has to happen almost by accident. Certainly without planning or conscious thought. I listen to speech, either radio or stories while painting, to distract to verbal thinking part of my mind, so as to allow the unexpected to happen. 

BM – What is it about printmaking that interests you?

AK - Printmaking is a way for an artist to dramatically extend their visual vocabulary. Each type of print has its own kind of mark-making potential. Just as some things can be better said in German or Japanese, so different feelings can be best expressed with different types of mark. Printmaking gives me access to marks that can't be made with a brush or pencil. I also like the surprise element, and the fact that once you are confident with printmaking techniques you can experiment endlessly and continue to surprise yourself. 

BM - What made you want to get involved with Art On A Postcard?

AK - Gemma asked me and the Hepatitis C trust seemed a good cause. It has been fun to work with master printers at Jealous print workshop and to use their expertise to try something new. 

BM - What other exciting things are you working on at the moment?

AK - I have just made a very large linocut to be printed by a steam-roller at the London Transport museum at the weekend. Earlier this year I spent a month painting in Australia and the paintings done there will be exhibited st Eames Fine Art in London in August.  

BM – Where can we find out more about your work?

AK -

You can buy Woman with Dove at this link

About the writer
Benjamin Murphy is an artist who primarily creates delicate figurative works using black electrical tape. As well as this, he regularly writes about contemporary art. He lives and works in London.
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