Monday, 14 March 2016

Axisweb artist of the Month: Abstract painter Julie Umerle on precision, chance and Gerhard Richter

"I spend as much time as I can in the studio on a regular basis. It can vary from week to week, but I'm usually in the studio at least four days a week plus one day a week spent at home doing admin. It really depends on what projects I am working on. But I do try to be structured, to keep in touch with what I'm doing there. I think it's important to have a framework. I've always been a studio-based artist so it's a special place for me and my work and it's where I really feel at home.

I've been a practising artist for more than thirty years, working on paper as well as on canvas, in series that are often open-ended. I've been through many phases with my work in that time, always abstract. When I first started painting I was exploring colour, gesture and composition; then geometry; then it was all about process. Right now I'm interested in mark-making and scale.

One of my pieces, Eclipse, has recently been acquired for the Priseman-Seabrook Collection. That painting encapsulates a particular moment in time. When I have an idea for a series of work, I push that idea as far as I can. Then there comes a time to move on and, yes, you could see that piece as a turning point – moving on to add a little more control to the process and towards the 'drip' paintings that followed.

I'm an abstract painter; my paintings are a combination of precision and chance. I love working with paint, making it do different things and changing my goals and ambitions for the paintings from time to time just to keep it interesting. One of my all-time favourite artists is Gerhard Richter, whose paintings I first saw in Berlin in 1991 and have seen many times since. He is always inspiring. Lots of contemporary painters interest me and I watch to see what they're doing and how they develop.

There are a number of interesting painters working at the moment. Painting has had a real renaissance in recent years, particularly abstract painting, and it is once again very current. It's always exciting when that happens and painting becomes part of the discourse about contemporary art rather than being relegated to the margins. Carla Busuttil, for example, who I met in 2008 at her degree show at the Royal Academy Schools, is an interesting painter. Also Jacqueline Humphries whose work has changed a lot since I first saw it in New York when her paintings were all red drips.

There are far more galleries in the US than in the UK, but then again there are many more artists there too. Finding a gallery to suit your work is just as difficult, wherever you're based
Over the next few months my paintings can be seen in group shows at Huddersfield Art Gallery, Ipswich Art Gallery, St Marylebone Crypt in London and Swindon Art Gallery.”

Culture24. From a studio interview with Julie Umerle by Lesley Guy. 10 December 2014

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