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JONNY gREEN CORRESPONDENCE FW shall we begin by talking about the subjects and objects of your painting. during the conversation we had in your studio you surprised me by showing me several miniature objects that you had fabricated out of everyday materials. When these were painted they assumed a monumentality and depth of feeling not present in their original state. could you explain how and why this transformation between object and subject occurs? that is, how a form of cobbling together can be transformed through painting to elicit strong sympathetic or empathetic responses in both you and the viewer. JG i think the transformation you mention is wrapped up in the process of making a painting in this manner. it takes time, they are quite labour intensive so the very act of sitting there day after day cogitating on complex sets of formal problems can have the effect of elevating the subject. i also tend to find this odd empathy emerging between myself and the sculptures as i sit with them. A relationship of sorts develops and i often feel the need to tell their 'story'. they are so clearly flawed and abject, and i have a drive to make their voices heard and to validate them in this way. As far as the responses a viewer might have to my paintings is concerned, that's something i try to step aside from. i don't try to push any of those buttons or use any of the type of devices that might elicit specific responses from the viewer. i think that has something to do with a need for authenticity in my work (at least as i define authenticity for myself), so to consciously try to manipulate the viewer in that way would feel like i was doing a disservice to my subjects. FW When i visited you in your studio you showed me the paintings Fracaso and Tipping Point, as well as some other small paintings of constructed objects. in each case i was confronted with an unidentifiable, but suggestive thing. you spoke of a human quality to them that was informed by awareness of people’s predicament in society these days, exclusion and lack of opportunity. have i remembered this correctly? JG Yes, to a point. i’m not sure i think about it in such a direct way, by which i mean i’m not thinking about social issues when i’m painting, i just think that as a left-leaning empathetic person, those kinds of associations inevitably arise. FW does the process of anthropomorphism happen during the construction of the objects or during painting, or both? at a distance, certain painted marks speak of the discarded materials from which they were made, plumbers tape and plasticine for example, so whilst they evoke something of the human, their abject origins are also left exposed. i’m interested to know more about this anthropomorphism and how you think it gives rise to ambiguity in your painting. JG the sculptures are made with a real sense of abandon. it’s very free, almost stream-ofconsciousness, i’m able to allow myself that kind of carefree attitude because i simply have no emotional or historical investment in sculpture as a craft. i don’t see the objects themselves as being art; they have an otherness about them. i might make a dozen objects in any one sitting and perhaps only one of them has any kind of resonance for me and manages to catch my attention. in answer to your question i think that this little glimmer of interest is possibly the beginning of the anthropomorphisation. i recognize something of myself in them that gives me pause and suggests that i might be able to find a painting within it. After that, the very longwinded process of photographing, then painting, brings me closer and closer to my subject and this sense of the Human keeps increasing. FW What are you intending when, in the course of your painting, you enable these constructions to cross over from being objects to subjects – that is from being just ‘stuff’ to exerting some power over you? Would you agree that their power to affect comes from your interpretation of them in painting?

52 AmBiguOuS PRACtiCES

Still Life: Ambiguous Practices Exhibition Catalogue  

Catalogue by Frances Woodley