It’s still fairly early on in 2012, but if you can’t bear to look forward to the year ahead, perhaps transport yourself back to the past at Rook & Raven’s new exhibition, ‘Nostaligia’ which opened last week. The exhibition takes the stance that the warm, fuzzy feeling we get inside when we think of years gone by, personal antiques or a specific song is so unexplainable and unique to each person that it’s hard to define what exactly nostalgia is. So the show presents various interpretations of the word created by an array of different contemporary artists such as renowned photographer Terry O’Neill, Dave White, DAIN, Rosie Emerson, Dave Shillinglaw, Various and Gould, Alex Daw, James Mylne, Stinkfish and Charlie Mason.
I love paint and print so there's something about the physicality and layering of the two which appeals to me. I see everything I do as collage, collage with colour, gesture and relief
We caught up with London-based Alex Daw, whose work blurs the boundaries between ‘street’ and ‘high’ art by using images from a range of sources like magazines, the internet, the street and family photos as inspiration. Here he talks about the collages he’s exhibiting in the show and about his immersive process when making art.
Dazed Digital: Tell us about the collages you’re showing at the ‘Nostaligia’ show. How do they fit in with the concept of the exhibition?
Alex Daw: The collages are altered magazines mostly; by proxy they become or were nostalgic objects before they were altered. Although there are injected narratives partially remixing textures of 80s movies, Hip Hop, computer-games and Google image searches...
DD: Are collages your preferred medium when making art? What is it about this method that appeals to you?
Alex Daw: I love paint and print so there's something about the physicality and layering of the two which appeals to me. I see everything I do as collage, collage with colour, gesture and relief. Always working out ways of aligning layers. I am constantly trying to form a marriage between painting and collage, hence my mass experimentation!
DD: Your work draws influences from both the past and present, what do you feel this adds to your work? Do these elements conflict or enhance each other?
Alex Daw: I guess as soon as you create something (art) you're referencing art history, be that painting or collage. The tradition of craft, skill and labour form the backbone to the work aesthetically, however there's more going on than pure representation. I'm struggling with the collage stuff as it's already there, the image; it's loaded already? Why paint it? The form or shape of things is becoming more appropriate, in the beginning to strip back the information. I enjoy the play between the high and low and the drag between slick, high glossy surrounds and rough, dirty painting or imagery.
DD: Throughout your work there’s a chaotic feel to it, similar to stream of consciousness, is this is intentional? Do you feel this adds to the ambiguity you’ve said you like to portray?
Alex Daw: I work intensely, in bursts and am very reactive to my surroundings. I have to listen to music pretty much all the time, it helps me loosen up and be more instinctive with the work. I never make any preparatory drawings or compositions with anything I just go with it, often for hours or days at a time, prolifically rifling through magazines, newspapers, the Internet anything that draws me in that I think will help balance my wandering marks.
The work is where I am at now; it's possibly snippets of my world view. The ambiguity is there, this is for all to see but the things are loaded, if someone is going to spend their time dealing with the work I feel compelled to tell them a story, however warped...
DD: What’s next for you?
Alex Daw: I am just about to move studio and begin work for a solo show planned for next year. I'm showing in a few places this year, here in London, NYC, Berlin and a few more EU spots. I'm also developing a gallery and hope to have the first proof of my most ambitious project thus far 'the post apocalyptic pop-up book!'
‘Nostaligia', 26th January- 25th February 2012, Rook & Raven, 7-8 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1HN