Anticlone Gallery : In conversation with
At Autograph Gallery, London October 2021 ‘Blind but I can see'
What do you find is the key difference between exhibiting independently as an artist in comparison to exhibiting in an established place such as autograph?
I think the key difference Is the audience's relationship to the work and how the audience come to the work If you do an independent show, you got to do the publicity, admin and sales yourself. When attached to an established gallery it draws in a larger audience. It doesn’t mean you shouldn't do It, because I've done independent shows when I first started and that's the way that people start to get to know about your work. However there’s more attraction to your work when there's an established name attached to the exhibition.
What do you feel has changed the most since coming out of lockdown for you as an artist?
I think it started before lockdown. I'm more playful with my work, I’m having fun. I'm not as stressed about being an artist and I think I'm just enjoying the process more. Just in a much more playful, childlike way. Last night I was thinking about that cause sometimes as you grow, you can get a bit too serious, or it becomes too much like a business. You start thinking about it and you start worrying about where your career is going.
What has evolved or changed the most with your work during the pandemic or has it changed?
The process is the same. I do a lot of research I look at different mediums such as films, architecture, music videos, and painters. I just try to keep an open mind. It’s never one period as I am continually doing it, I’m a culture vulture.
How do you see the arts industry as an independent artist?
It depends where you want to go in your career, for me, I want to sell work. I am an independent artist, but I do want to be represented by an established Gallery because it helps when it comes to the business side as it’s difficult to navigate
What do you feel your work showcase here says about you?
I think what this work showcases for me is I've worked in different mediums for quite a few years I've mainly showcased photography because I guess photography was the medium, I explored first. Performance predated photography but I think what it does is highlight the different mediums that I have worked in. I've worked on art films so It’s nice this exhibition allows people to see the different mediums that I work in and how they can always sit by side, and I wouldn't say any one of them has hierarchy, I think they all kind of have their own place and how one idea can translate across different mediums.
What has been the most challenging thing whilst doing commissions?
I can't say all these commissions because every commission was different. This is the most challenging commission I've ever had as I was dealing with grief at the same time, because my father passed away. Navigating and going through grief and creating a body of work was extremely difficult, everything that I normally do when creating work became more difficult and challenging.I was dealing with other stuff at the same time such as self-doubt, trying to understand what I was actually doing with the work so those were like personal challenges. I go through a long period of research. I visit places, locations, people if they're going to be included in the project, but this project at Autograph was much more me and myself and friends who I would invite along if I needed help.
How have you navigated the art world while staying true to your vision and beliefs?
Good question. I'm not sure if I'm navigating the art world because it's something I don't consciously think about. Someone who was the curator here a few years ago said to me when we met up, she said to me "Othello, concentrate on your work" and that is something that I've always truly believed in and she reinforced it. I stayed focused on my work and see where the work will take me. Sometimes I go to openings and meet people through doing lots of like talks, but essentially for me it’s to keep on creating work.
How do you stay motivated during your work process?
It depends on how you live your life; I am creative whether I'm creating work or in my personal life. As said earlier I am a culture vulture.
What do you envision to be next?
Well, I've got a show in Rome in 2022. I am exhibiting two paintings at Mall Gallery in November and I'm also trying to raise some funding. 180 Strand gave me a space to have an exhibition, but I have to raise the money to create the art film and the work to go with it, the project explores Father’s and Son’s relationships. I'm working on a photographic piece right now called Silent Key Holders of Power, that I want to shoot at the beginning of next year, if I can raise the funds again.
What do you feel represents you best, paintings, photography or film?
All of them. Because each idea translates in another way, so some works lend itself better to photography, some works lends itself better to moving image and paintings is something else. Painting is more instant I can do it in solitude, photography work, there's a lot of planning. I think it just depends on the idea; the idea lends itself to the medium
What skill do you feel you wish you had and learnt earlier in your life?
The only thing that I would say is let go of all the social pressures of how you need to be when you become an adult.
What is the ultimate goal for your art and career?
I don’t have one. I like it when people have discussions about my work. Whether they get it or don't get it or don't understand it. Or when they create their own narrative that's what I enjoy most. Your work will live one and hopefully at some point people will have discussions about it in the future.
What is your relationship with the curators of your work Is it important to you or less than?
Yeah, relationships with curators are very important. I like to be surprised. I use to be a person that needs to be totally in control even down to curating and I still like to give my opinion, but I love curators that have got a passion for curating. I learned a big lesson a couple of years ago in 2019 I had an exhibition in China, the curator researched my work and remembered how I was influenced by historical paintings, particularly Caravaggio and Rembrandt. I walked into the gallery space, and they had printed the work to look like paintings and I was blown away. Sometimes it's nice to trust the curator and to see how they interpret your work. You have an intention about your work, but in a way that can make you a bit stagnant because you see one perspective, but maybe the curator has another idea, and it will open your mind to a new interpretation.
'I remember a conversation with my father about him wanting to paint his office green. So, I got the leaves and twigs from the tree and painted with them. I think I really wanted to understand the grief I was going through' - Othello D'Souza-Hartley
Talk us through your process of conducting this Commission, what was your thought process for each part, from photography to film?
All right, the first part would always be the research I always start with research, even if I have ideas in my head. When I was doing the photography part, I started looking at films, and other mediums with bed for inspiration. Even though I’ve photographed my body many times. For t this project it became more difficult because I was dealing with grief. I then started thinking about how I wanted to shoot it because I wanted it to be slightly different to the other work I did before. I was trying to understand my relationship with the room and the bed at first, understanding where I needed to be to create the work in the room.
Then I moved onto the film. Outside my window there is this tree, but I remember the neighbours wanted it to be cut down as they felt the tree was ugly and didn't like it because it was blocking the light. I really love this tree, this tree for me was comforting. I placed my desk in front of the window, during the lockdown so I spent a lot of time gazing at this tree and it was almost like a meditation.
Once I finished the film from, I started to think about the painting. I remember a conversation with my father about him wanting to paint his office green. So, I got the leaves and twigs from the tree and painted with them. I think I really wanted to understand the grief I was going through.
How do you know when a piece is done?
I'm getting there. I'm not there yet because I have overdone it sometimes. In the studio have reminders on the wall to keep me on track.
What is the best way to cope with life challenges as an artist for you?
Silence. Not put yourself under pressure and then creatively work your way through it. When my dad died I picked up my camera and went to my parent’s house and I started photographing my dad’s objects. I’m lucky I'm a creative person when I'm going through things, I can express myself through my creativity. First, it's silence I go inwards and then outwards and the creativity takes over.
What do you wish to be remembered for?
Othello was himself.
Content Writer : Akasha Marie Heliodore
Study 17 - (Blind, but I can See), acrylic on canvas 60 x 48in
Study 15 - 121.92cm x 152.4cm, Acrylic, newspaper and cardboard on canvas