We managed to catch some time with Arcmanoro Niles ahead of his first exhibition in the UK to ask a few questions about the show and his practice.
This is your first show in the UK, how have you found London?
I really enjoyed being in London. I was excited to visit the Tate and Chisenhale Gallery, to name a few… there was so much to see! The city has so much art.
You have a very bright colour palate. Why did you decide to go for such bright colours?
I’ve always been drawn to bright colors, such as deep reds and pinks. These colors can give life to the painting, especially when painting skin.
When we were talking earlier you were explaining how you build up your paintings and the multi-layer textures it creates could you explain this?
Building the painting up in layers allows me to create depth within the painting. And using different textures and other oppositions like warm and color tones helps expand the space within the painting. Im always thinking about how the light will bounce off the canvas. Whether the light is coming back slowly through layers of transparent paint or coming back instantly, that’s why I’m attracted to combining different materials like oil paint and glitter.
In this show and your last, you introduced landscapes. In fact, the main work in the exhibition is a big landscape, why did you feel the need to move into landscapes?
I never spent much time in nature as an adult until a few years ago and it was very calming. I’ve been wanting to capture that feeling of peaceful quite. The landscape in the current show is a depiction of a Park, I wanted it to feel like an in-between time like the sun had just set or was about to rise. I have always been interested in these in-between moments like this where something is ending and something else is beginning whether it’s a landscape or a transitional phase in life.
You said with the new colour palette “the works ended up feeling more real to me.” What do you mean?
Once I stopped trying to copy the colors I saw specifically in flesh tones, my paintings felt more alive, more solid held there in space, I think part of that had to do with the paintings no longer pretending to be something they weren’t.
The works seem very personal and despite the brightness, some of them have a certain melancholy. Is being an artist sometimes a very lonely pursuit?
Depending on your practice, I think being an artist can be lonely. Painting tends to be a solitary pursuit, it has to be something you enjoy a bit, I had a teacher who would say “your studio can be a prison or an observatory” that has always stayed with me. I find that though I am alone working I get to go to different places in my mind and really see myself and others even when it’s not easy to look, I get to look out and see the world fugitively but also literally because if you really think about it my studio has brought me to London.
What Plans have you got for 2023?
I’m looking forward to getting back into the studio but also coming back to London and seeing more of Europe my trip was too short. The past few years have been a bit of everything, unsettling and exciting. I find myself thinking about what the future might hold as I begin to welcome the new year.
Arcmanoro Niles, You Know I Used To Love You but Now I Don’t Think I Can: There Ain’t No Right Way To Say Goodbye Again, Lehmann Maupin – January 7th, 2023