Saturday, 3 June 2017

A Chat with Artist Mike Bartlett

Mike Bartlett

Artist Mike Bartlett's new exhibition is running until 5 June at Alan Kluckow Fine Art, Sunningdale.

What made you become an artist?

I believe that we are all born with skills and motivations. I always had a need to draw and build images. Although I had the chance to go to Art College when I was 16, I chose not to and subsequently became a Design Draughtsman for about 20 years.  Then I made a major move into special education, gaining a BA in Education. I taught at Southdown’s College, Havant, Hampshire. After some years, circumstances took a turn and my need to make Art came to the fore. I decided to enrol for an Access Course in Art and finally turned that into a First Class BA Hons degree. When I was young, my dad said that if I didn’t follow an art career I would regret it all my life. He died when I was 17 so I felt I had finally fulfilled his wish by becoming an artist. This was a beginning of a new journey of professionalism for me. I set out to gain all the things needed to be a painter: a studio, website, contacts, galleries, subject and so on.

What was it that made you choose your medium? 

I worked with all mediums including watercolour and charcoal, but my preferred medium is and always has been Oil paint. Oil paint is the most fluid of mediums and suits the way I work, where I manipulate the painting, building and taking away as the work develops. I sometimes use Acrylic as an underpainting or to use some fluorescent colours but, for me, Oils has the possibility to surprise me.

What message are you trying to convey to your audience with your work?

I don’t set out to convey a message to an audience but the audience is important to me. I set out to make a painting that responds to me as I make it and I always know when it is complete. If the painting works and communicates a feeling to me then I hope that the viewer has a connection or response.

Is there one particular piece of work that stands out for you and, if so, what is this and why does it hold such appeal? 

’The Path to the Red Cirque’ Oil on Canvas. I tend to really like the painting I have recently completed. This is a very large canvas and is a development of incorporating artists such as Lautrec , Miro and Pousin in this case to form new narratives in my exploration of the gallery as a space to explore. It is important to point out that I am fluid about my favourite paintings.

Do you have any advice for artists at the beginning of their careers?

I would advise Fine Artists like myself to try and be honest about their work. Develop your own practice. It is different for every artist but the artwork must come first. Develop your own style. These days social media is a necessary way of being seen, through blogs, your website, events, open Invitations etc. There will be disappointments and successes, but integrity is the key to making work. Many artists have parallel careers, or work to balance their art career. A few make a full time living. For some, a social art network or collaborative group of like minds is a good place to share questions and answers. Finally, the most important advice is to want to make Art.

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you had known when you started out as an artist?

I know that being an artist can be an insular job, and some of the big names such as Aubach, Tracy Emin , Van Gogh (et al) had to be self-centred to make and develop their work. This is a different time where everything is so much more accessible and this suits me.

I suppose I realise everyone has the same right to be an artist but maybe not the same chances or confidence.

You have an exhibition on at the moment.  Where is this, what are the opening times and how long is it on for?

65 Chobham Road,

Tel: 01344875296

Daily from 10 til 6pm, closed Sundays. Or by appointment

Review by Nicholas Herbert

Mike Bartlett Paintings at Alan Kluckow Fine Art. 13th May - 5th June 2017. (Visited 15th May) A selection of images.

This is an exuberant and very enjoyable solo exhibition of Mike Bartlett's highly expressive paintings curated by Alan Kluckow and well worth visiting if you happen to be near Sunningdale. These (mostly small) works come with some intriguing thematic ideas to do with portraiture of art world personalities viewing art at specific exhibitions as well as other pieces inspired by Bartlett's visits to the zoo. The portraits are spontaneous, playful and convincing. The making of these works is impressive throughout; from the articulation of the paint surfaces, the clever visual compositions, to the kind of content details that one realises can only come from the keenest of observation combined with the most disciplined filtering out of the extraneous. These are paintings that at first viewing could seem on the surface to be rather superficial, but are in fact very clever and sophisticated canvasses about humanity. Personally speaking, I left feeling invigorated. Time well spent. Alan Kluckow Fine Art until 5th June 2017.

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