Jonny Green in Jung Katz
How did you get started doing what you do?
Oh the usual route, Art School, record deal, paint. I had a ten year break from making art, I resumed painting when the itch got so bad it was stopping me from sleeping.
How would you describe your creative style?
Slapdash and rigorous in equal parts.
What’s your inspiration?
The human condition and the grime and mess of living.
What is art to you?
Something that is the product of the nervous system. There is more art in a painting than in a thousand photographs because a painting is the product of a million different tiny decisions and reflexes made between hand and eye, brain and muscle, conscious and unconscious thoughts. The surface of a photograph is flat and un-animated, it contains no physical trace of the psychic handwriting of its author.
What does your typical day look like?
I realised some time ago that I am unable to do anything of value in the mornings. I tend to drink coffee and read until around 1pm. After that I gradually ease myself into my working day, really hitting my stride at around 4pm. I tend to get 4-5 really productive hours in any day. I need music and peace to really relax and allow that subconscious part of my brain to run the show, which is when my best work is made.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
A really small one can be made in 2 or 3 days. the larger works can take over two months to wrestle into submission.
How do you keep motivated?
I Love to paint. Motivation is rarely a problem to me, my hours in the studio seem precious and just the thought that there may come a day when I have to do other things to pay the rent is enough to panic me into a fever of activity.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
I consider my studio to be a neutral space, a kind of haven that shields me from my external environment. My work is definitely ‘other’. Living in London exposes a person to a deluge of sensory information,. For me it is essential to have a place where i can close the door on that cacophony.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I hope to get closer and closer to my initial ideas. To reach a point where I am able to make my ideas manifest in the most efficient and unadorned way. I want to cut to the chase basically. Painting is a peculiar thing for a person to do. There is nothing instant about it, it’s more like planting a seed of an idea and hoping one day, years later, people will see that it has grown into a tree.
How have others reacted to your work?
Many different ways. from revulsion to adoration. Thankfully not too much indifference.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
I would be happy if my work made people uncomfortable. If it raises questions then it is doing its job. I want these paintings to be seductive enough visually to make someone forget their smartphone for a while and really look. I want someone to empathise with the ugliness.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Trust yourself, do not waver, do not be afraid of anything, drink more water.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“Do what makes you happy, but do it completely”
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Careful what you wish for!
What are your thoughts on art school?
Don’t go to art school expecting to leave and have a career as a famous wealthy artist at the end of it. That’s not how it works. Only become an artist if it’s a genuine unavoidable drive for you. You will need that self-belief and motivation to keep you warm through the endless rejections and cold nights that are the reality of an artist’s life.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I would like a party of adventurers to take a small painting of mine to the north pole and place it at the meeting of the planets ley lines.
What’s your dream project?
I would love to paint a ‘supreme being’ to be installed in St. Pauls Cathedral in London. One of my little monsters on a vast scale in a religious environment would be perfect.
What art supplies do you use?
Very expensive oil paint, very cheap canvas and very soft brushes.
What’s your process like?
My process starts with a pile of junk, all over the floor and desktop in my studio. Scabby old bits of plasticine and wire coathangers, electricians tape and expanding foam. I usually spend a full day playing, making and destroying with these materials. the following day I will come into the studio to survey a couple of dozen little objects that I’ve made. Perhaps one of these objects will be kept, the rest discarded. the second stage, photography starts then, I place the object into a fairly neutral environment, a plain background, light it and take hundreds of pictures. Normally, I will get one or two photographs that I can then take forward into a painting. That’s when the real labour begins.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
By giving me an early retrospective at the Tate Gallery.
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View available works on Jonny Green’s Artist Page