INTERVIEW: FAD caught up with Artist Celina Teague ahead of her exhibition ‘I think therefore I #

FAD caught up with Artist Celina Teague ahead of her exhibition ‘I think therefore I #’ opening at Kristin Hjellegjerde and asked her some questions about her work her new exhibition and what art she’d buy with $49,500.

1. Can you tell us about your work and what are the main ideas you try and express
I am only too aware that the news stories directed our way are all spun to a degree and I want to pare them down to their essence and delve right into the heart of what they are about. My approach to painting the news is more personal as opposed to being overtly political. The idea that our online presence proceeds us to a degree, and the way in which we edit and filter the presentation of our lives, has been a great source of interest to me in this show. This is a new language that are all using, without knowing where it will take us. 

2. How do you decide what your next artwork/project will be and how do you know when it is finished?
The concept for a whole show tends to be birthed suddenly, often with a single event that happens in the news. In this case it was Charlie Hebdo killings that prompted me to explore some very complex issues such as free speech, the way we use social media, how we access information, the effects of the drip feeding of consistently negative and/or shallow news stories and, of course, the potency of the hashtag. 

From there the paintings tend to flow one from the other, growing out of each other in a sense. I finish my paintings the final second of my deadline – i.e. when the van arrives to transport my work to the gallery. Even if I have enough works to fill the space I always think I might be able to squeeze in a better one and so, with five days to go I will often kill myself trying to do one more work.

3. Name 3 Artists who have inspired you?
Hieronymous Bosch, George Condo, Philip Guston are the first that spring to mind.

4. How has it been working with Kristin Hjellegjerde?
I love Kristin. She lives and breathes art and works her socks off. She’s very blunt – which is sometimes just what I need – and she’s usually spot on. She’s a lioness watching over us all and will always follow her instinct even if that means going against the grain and taking sizeable risks. Also – and I don’t know if other galleries are like this – but there is a real sense of camaraderie between all of the artists that Kristin represents. We are a team all doing the best we can. It’s a nice place to be.

  
5. Can you tell us about your exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde
Many of the paintings in this show centre on some of the bigger news stories of the last 18 months – especially those that gained momentum on social media, such as the 276 girls abducted from Chibok in Nigeria and the ensuing Bring Back Our Girls Campaign. More than one million people, including Michelle Obama tweeted #Bring Back Our Girls. 

But I do wonder where this got us. It’s very easy to tweet and go back to our favourite television show and simply forget about the truth. I’m as guilty as anyone, which is why I chose this as subject matter. The most followed person on Instagram is Kim Kardashian – and her siblings make up most of the top ten. Given the many atrocities that are ever present in the news, is it any wonder that we seek the other extreme – the picture perfect, glamorous and wanting-for-nothing world that exists on avenues in social media? 

This is why The Daily Mail – the world’s most read online page – is so enticing. It ingeniously places the two polar opposite columns side by side. When the depressing images from the left hand news column get us down, switch to the right for some lighthearted showbiz frivolity. In this show however, I am trying to explore the space in-between the two extremes – the unfiltered and unedited space.

6. What plans do you have to further your career?
I just want to keep pushing myself to make the best paintings I can and to keep taking risks conceptually and technically. The harder I work, the better I will get. It’s difficult as a new artist to break through and it’s been a learning curve for me, doing press interviews and trying to explain the work. I already have an idea for the next show but I want to hone it first – I’ll keep you posted!

7. If you had $49,500 to spend on art what artist would you invest in and why?
This is hard! The money probably wouldn’t go too far with George Condo or Sigmar Polke – though if I could get a smaller work of theirs for that price, I would be tempted. Or I would go for a Ryan Mosley painting – I am a big fan since seeing his degree show in the RCA years ago. Phoebe Unwin, Henry Hudson and Jakub Julian Ziolkowski are also contenders. I have to stop this game – I could go on for ages. Dana Schutz, Dasha Shishkin and several of my fellow artists who show at Kristin Hjellegjerde.

Celina Teague ‘I think therefore I #’ August 5th – 5th September Kristin Hjellegjerde 533 Old York Road London SW18 1TG kristinhjellegjerde.com

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018