Artist interview: Sasha Bowles

Sasha Bowles is one of the artists due to graduate from the fine art masters course in September 2013. Claire Manning finds out more about her work:

CM: What is your starting point?

SB: That depends. For the paintings that deal with the body as a thing, I was deconstructing old masters who use bodies in a fleshy visceral way. Whereas in the paintings dealing with memories, they begin with a personal reminiscence.

CM: The work seems to reference classic, historical paintings? Am I right and, if yes, do they remain true to the particular painting?

SB: Yes, you are. I was interested in the way these classic, historical paintings were purporting to deal with huge themes and yet mostly seemed an excuse to show a lot of flesh. The references are abstracted from particular paintings, but may well become distorted within the painting as it progresses.

CM: In your work, the human body seems to be in a state of transition. For example, in ‘The Heap’, bodies – an excess of bodies – are forcefully present, but are also incomplete. What sort of state are they in – materialising or disappearing?

SB: They are very much discarded. The remains. Remains of bodies and remains of paintings. They are disappearing, left overs, a reference to the discarding of the old classical masters being no longer relevant, but also to how we treat both the living and the dead body in a disposable / replaceable manner.

CM: ‘The Heap’ is grouped under a series of work you’ve called the body problem.  Tell me more about the nature of this problem of the body.

SB: I have been exploring the ‘mind-body’ conundrum. And trying to separate the body from the mind; to view it as just a thing, which is how it is often portrayed throughout history. I have been investigating the biological properties; the physical ‘stuff’ we are made of. How we view our own bodies; from within and without. What happens after we die; including autopsies and embalming. Our relationship to other bodies; including that of serial killers.

CM: Some brush strokes feel precise and careful and others less restrained. What role does planning and chance play in your painting techniques?

SB: They are process paintings, so although there is an idea that begins the painting and will remain at its core, the painting will ‘reveal’ itself in the process of making.  I really enjoy creating different areas of interest over the canvas. There are areas of both clarity and vagueness, which is kind of how my thoughts are forming as I paint. I am hoping to ‘surprise’ myself in the painting and so am very aware of the possibilities of ‘chance’ moments and how they may open up a painting. So in answer to the question; there is a plan of sorts, but I like to go off the path to see where that may lead.

CM: I’ve seen you work large and also quite small. What factors determine the size of a piece?

SB: I guess it depends upon the intimacy of the piece I am creating. How gestural I am wanting to be and what sort of impact I am hoping to achieve. ‘The Heap’ is large, because I wanted the physical bodily experience of making it to be evident within the work.

CM: Naming work seems a universal difficulty for artists. In the series of work called ‘Memory and slippage’, your titles are quite lyrical & emotive – such as ‘As our memories fade souvenirs appear’, and ‘A slippage of time and place’. Tell me more about how you choose titles.

SB: I wanted the titles to be evocative without being too descriptive. Allowing the viewer an ‘in’ to the painting, but not giving it all away.

CM: Do you always work in paint?

SB: Not at all. No I also work in 3-D and photography. I am becoming more and more interested in the crossing over of disciplines and am very open to where that might lead me.

CM: The next 3 months leading up to the graduation show are likely to be intense. What are you most looking forward to?

SB: Consolidating ideas. There has been a huge amount of exploration and experimentation these last two years. So I am excited and nervous to see if it will all come together and in what form.

Sasha Bowles photographic work can currently be seen at the Charlie Dutton Gallery Photo&Print open salon, PV tonight then open to the public from 30th May to 29th June.

Sasha’s website

Sasha Bowles, 'Hillocks (after Rubens)

Sasha Bowles, ‘Hillocks (after Rubens)

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4 thoughts on “Artist interview: Sasha Bowles

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    • Thanks for your kind comments! We’re just having some fun with the website leading up to the graduation show – trying to maximise the experience for those participating I suppose and find out what visitors are interested in. So, no, no plans for guest writers as yet, but I’ll let you know if this changes. But don’t think there’s any restrictions on how long comments can be. Or it might be fun to start your own blog!

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