Bali High | An interview with Rob Tucker

Suddenly things went still

PIERMARQ* is thrilled to present New Zealand artist Rob Tucker's first solo exhibition with the gallery, 'Suddenly things went still'. Rob Tucker is currently living and working as part of a residency in Bali, Indonesia.  Our upcoming show of new works titled Suddenly things went still offers a sumptuous selection of paintings in direct response to this warmer, tropical climate. While at first glance the still-life subject matter of Tucker's paintings appears modest, it is merely a starting point from which he can freely and boldly stretch beyond the norm; overblown, textural and graphic, his work is an exploration of the limits of colour and composition. 


In anticipation of the exhibition, we asked Tucker a few questions about his creative process and what we can expect from his first show at PIERMARQ*.


PIERMARQ*:When/how did you get into painting? 


Rob Tucker: I started experimenting with art at a young age. I've had no formal fine arts training, which has been an advantage point for me as it has allowed me to explore and develop autonomously without overarching constraints or trained guidance. I started with an abstract approach often using an accumulation of household materials as painting utensils. I continued to experiment and develop my subject to become more considered and stylistically driven.


P*:What are the core concerns of your practice?
I look to capture my subject matter in a naive and raw manner and could be somewhat of a parody on kitsch and tacky. Vibrant colour plays a fundamental role in illustrating that aesthetic.


I am very interested in the ideology behind paint application and mark making. Mark making, to me, is a tangible way to illustrate an idea or feeling naively and without literal reference. Here I can lose myself in an act of instinctual, subconscious paint application to create something of pure freedom and feeling.


I predominantly work with paint, which in my application plays a strong sculptural role – constructing and deconstructing the layers with hardware tools. Although I do paint still life, accurately depicting subject matter has never been and will never be my focus. It’s just a vehicle for me to explore mark-making and considered painterly application in an expressive and somewhat imaginary cartoon-like approach. 

P*: Can you describe the process of starting a new work? 

RT: I start with a loose drawing (non-pre-conceived) on to the canvas, from here I begin to map out colour by heavily applying layers of paint. Colours are selected by instinct and mood. 


Then, I start to deface the canvas by scraping and wounding the paint on the surface. I then reinsure the subject matter, outlining the subjects with pastel again. From here I apply thick oil varnishes on top of the picture, which dissolves the oil pastels and distorts and liquefies the image. I repeat this process, building depth and continue to delete and work areas until I feel the painting starts to feel like a painting - this is quite a physical process to figure things out. I've always tried to show a narrative of my idea of abstraction, through my process of mark-making, to almost give a passage of my problem solving and playful spontaneity.


P*: What are some things you struggle with in regards to your painting practice?

RT: There are so many positives to being an artist, however it can weigh you down at times when it's all in your head and you're a one man band. Starting work can be a bi-polar experience - the anxiety and excited hype all at the same time. It's always when I'm anxious and internalising when I come up with new directions and exciting endeavours.


P*: Are there any exhibitions or artists that have left a strong impression on you and your development as an artist?

RT: Sure, there are sooo many. I am constantly researching art from past and present to strike a nerve and be inspired. To name a few artists, I love the 1950's abstract expressionists; Philip Guston & his ideologies, Giorgio Morandi who inspired me to create cluttered still lives and of course Matisse and Hockey. Currently, I'm loving Eddie Martinez and Jonas Wood.


P*: More often than not your paintings have food-themed titles. What’s the reason for this – are you always hungry?

RT: Besides the fact that I am always hungry, titles, in my opinion, can be a little contrived, and I wanted to make a play on that by not talking them too seriously. As my works have a real taste/mood focus, I treat my titles as a reflection of that... showcasing the overall flavour of the work. Just like the back of a wine label!


P*: Lastly, what can we expect from your upcoming exhibition at PIERMARQ*?

RT: I'm currently on an art residency in Bali, so have drawn inspiration from Indonesia's vibrant, wild colour. I've also had to modify my process here, now working on linen canvas and incorporating oils to bring a richer sense of the painterly process.


Rob Tucker | Suddenly things went still
10th October - 26th October 2019
Opening night: Thursday 10th  6-8pm


1 October 2019