May 2013 Artist of the Month
We have decided to profile the selected artist more on our website, and so, from now on, each Artist of the Month will be asked a little bit about their work. This month, Liam Hassan-Beserekumo was selected. Kate Davey asks him a few questions about himself and his art:
1) When did you first become interested in art and what sparked this interest?
I have been producing sketches using pencils and felt pens since I was a child living in Liverpool. I also learned to work with wood as I got older, building dens and installations. I took a step forward when starting to experiment with acrylics and fabric paint in a day centre in London (Elhab) a few years ago. Elhab helped me through a process of developing my work, applying paints to canvas and with my first attempts to publicise it. However, they were not a specialised organisation working with emerging artists. My dad helped me to get a studio funded by social services, which enabled me to produce larger paintings and to develop my work further. My early paintings appear much flatter and have less detail. The works I produce today are much brighter and bolder and have more texture.
I have been influenced by members of my own family who produce art, such as my dad, my aunt and two of my uncles. When I started to work in my studio I looked at artists like Picasso, Van Gogh and Klimt as well as African art and got inspired by their bold colours and abstract shapes and patterns.
2) How would you describe your art practice? How has it developed over the years? You say you work in phases, producing paintings of a similar style before moving on to the next idea - what inspires this progression of your work?
Inspiration for my paintings might come from other imagery, such as a CD cover or photographs, bright colours, patterns and shapes (as mentioned above) as well as the mood I am in. Producing work seems to be a process that I go through and it surprises me at times. I might set out to produce a set of brighter paintings but end up creating darker work. Sometimes I get an idea of a shape in my mind and follow the flow of my thinking. However, the result is not always what I expect. Once I am happy with one set of paintings I move on to the next.
3) What is your favourite medium to use and why?
I like to use acrylic paints, which I apply through a metal nozzle, squeezing it directly onto the canvas. I find using paints more satisfying than using pens as it allows me to create a raised, textured effect with intense colour contrast.
4)Your art is very abstract, allowing for the audience to make their own interpretations. What is it influenced by? Do you have any favourite artists?
I have been influenced by bright colours, abstract shapes and pattern but also by the work of fellow artists; for instance, artists in my studio complex. I might find shapes and pattern in buildings and architecture. Music helps me to keep going when producing work and keeps me motivated through the process. My favourite artists are Picasso, Van Gogh and Klimt. I also got inspired by Steven Wiltshire. I am fascinated by his skills and look up to him as another artist with a disability who made it in the world of mainstream art. I see him as a role model.
5)You’ve had your work displayed in some very high profile galleries such as the Tate Modern and The Rickshaw Gallery. What has been your highlight as an artist so far?
My highlight has been being able to exhibit at Tate Modern twice. I might get the opportunity to do this again this year, as I am intending to submit a few pieces to another competition.
6)What are you working on at the moment?
I have been working on a set of two really large paintings - the largest ones I have produced so far. I would like to go even larger. However, I have to source places that produce canvases in such sizes.
7)What’s next for you as an artist?
I am developing workshops for people with Learning Disabilities. I have been offered the opportunity to do that at the daycentre, Elhb, this month and might be able to give a work shop at my studio complex. There will be an education space for such purposes. I am looking forward to a new experience and to developing my skills as a workshop leader.
To see more of Liam’s work, visit his Outside In online gallery: http://www.outsidein.org.uk/Liam-Hassan-Beserekumo