Ahead of the XL Catlin Art Prize 2016 FAD managed to catch up with all of the finalists, next up we have Rory Biddulp from the MA at Slade.
Rory Biddulph preparing for XL Catlin Art Prize in his studio
1 Can you tell us about your work and what are the main ideas you try and express?
Recently, I have been making paintings of figures by layering print and paint repeatedly. I like how paint and print can be used to quickly bring about an image – how information can be cut up, reassembled, scanned, printed and just stuck down with paint. This process always has a raw energy attached to it. It allows me to deal with my subject matter intuitively and for the work to reflect the mentality and physicality of their making.
It is important to me that I allow the work to be fed directly from life so what I produce is always shifting – but I keep coming back to thinking about hierarchies and taxonomies.
I am particularly drawn to things which project some form of ideology such as pop iconography, flyposting, fanzines or propaganda images and looking at ways to incorporate them into a framework of folklore, absurdity and fiction. Making paintings allows me to twist, exaggerate or demean elements taken from contemporary life and to bring about an image which is more of a heightened, symbolic reflection than a straight up depiction. This is just my way of making sense of things in reality.
2 Where and what have you been studying and how do you feel it has benefited you?
I recently completed my MA at the Slade School of Fine Art. There is a lot that could be said about what I gained from the Slade, though two of the main things would be the people that I met, and a change in the way that I approach making work. I had a studio on my own for three years before doing my masters, and had never managed to produce artwork on my own terms. I was thinking about what it should be rather than what I wanted from it. This led to the work being overly laboured or theorised. When I came to London to study, I tried to find a way of working more in line with my own thoughts and perceptions. This was militantly encouraged at the Slade, even when I took a different direction and started making paintings as a sculpture student. I am not a painter’s painter and feel quite removed from the history of painting. So making paintings allowed me to produce work with more freedom and energy. Good art schools should allow students to tear apart what they are familiar with if they need to. I was lucky in that I finished the Slade with a much clearer idea of what I wanted from my work, with a range of ideas of how to develop it and people around me that I trust.
3 Can you tell us about the work that will be on show at XL Catlin Art Prize 2016?
I am making a series of large, vibrant paintings of conflicted figures in isolated moments. The body language and facial expressions of the figures has become more significant than it has been in previous works. They are masked, distorted and exaggerated. I want the works to echo the impact of their scale in their content, while at the same time depicting moments that have a level of privacy or empathy attached to them.
XL Catlin Art Prize 2016 Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP
Thursday 5th – Sunday 22nd May 2016 www.xlcatlinart.com
This year’s finalists are: Rory Biddulph (Slade School of Fine Art, MA Fine Art), Jude Crilly (Royal College of Art, MA Sculpture), Jamie Fitzpatrick, (Royal College of Art, MA Sculpture), Christopher Gray (Goldsmiths, BA Fine Art & History of Art), Jane Hayes Greenwood (City & Guilds of London Art School, MA Fine Art), Hamish Pearch (Camberwell College of Arts, BA Sculpture) and Neal Rock (Royal College of Art, PhD Painting by Practice).