A brush with..., sponsored by Bloomberg Connects, is a podcast by The Art Newspaper that features in-depth conversations with leading international artists. Host Ben Luke asks the questions you've always wanted to: who are the artists, historical and contemporary, they most admire? Which are the museums they return to? What are the books, music and other media that most inspire them? What do they get up to in the studio every day? And what is art for, anyway?
The podcast offers a fascinating insight into the inspirations, the preoccupations and the working lives of some of the most prominent artists today.
A brush with... Zadie Xa
Ben Luke talks to the Canadian-Korean artist Zadie Xa about her influences—from the worlds of literature, film, music and, of course, art—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Xa was born in 1983 in Vancouver, Canada, and is now based in London. She explores folklore and speculative fiction, familial and collective histories, diasporic identity and the climate emergency through painting, sculpture, film and performance, often brought together in fantastical installations. She talks about artists from Lee Bul to Hieronymus Bosch and Kara Walker; her interest in Korean folk art and folk tales; how she returns to the science fiction novels of Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia E. Butler; and the early and ongoing influence of hip hop and rappers like Cam’ron. Plus, she gives insight into her life in the studio and answers our usual questions, including the ultimate: what is art for?
Zadie Xa: House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 20 September-May 2023; The Condition of Being Addressable, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, until 4 September; Hospital Rooms: Like there is hope and I can dream of another world, Hauser & Wirth, London, 19 August-14 September; Wonder Women, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, 3 September-22 October; Soy Dreams of Milk, Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong, from 10 September; The New Bend, curated by Legacy Russell, Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, 27 October-30 December; The Horror Show: a Twisted Tale of Modern Britain, Somerset House Studios, London, 27 October-19 February 2023; Jeju Biennale, Jeju Island, South Korea, 16 November-12 February 2023
A brush with... Lina Iris Viktor
Ben Luke talks to Lina Iris Viktor about her influences—including writers, film-makers, musicians, and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Born in the UK in 1987, the Liberian-British artist works in painting, sculpture, photography, performance and installation. She creates works that reflect on her own identity amid broader themes—history and geopolitics, astrophysics and maths, ancient myths and belief systems—to explore universal implications of blackness. Among much else, she discusses her love of Rebecca Horn’s Concert for Anarchy (1990); the influence of Chris Ofili, Louise Nevelson and Seydou Keïta; her enduring engagement with the writing of Jun'ichirō Tanazaki and Sylvia Plath; and her response to the films of Ingmar Bergman and Carl Dreyer. And, as usual, we find out about her life in the studio, and ask the ultimate question: what is art for?
In the Black Fantastic, Hayward Gallery, London, until 18 September; Rite of Passage: Lina Iris Viktor with César, Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson and Yves Klein, LGDR, London, until 17 September
A brush with... Megan Rooney
Ben Luke talks to Megan Rooney about her influences—including other artists, writers and musicians—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Rooney was born in 1985 in South Africa, but grew up in Brazil and then in Canada, before studying in London. She works in performance, sculpture and painting and has gained particular attention recently for the vast murals she has made in several international museums. Among much else, she discusses the transformative experience of seeing Henry Moore at the National Gallery of Ontario; a life-changing moment seeing works made on the walls by women prisoners in the Carceri dell’Inquisizione, Palermo, Sicily; and about the writing of Maxine Kumin and Haruki Murakami. Plus, Rooney answers our regular questions, including those about the pictures on her studio wall, her daily working rituals and the artwork she would choose to live with, as well as the ultimate one: what is art for?
Megan Rooney’s With Sun is in Fugues in Colour, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, until 29 August. She is also in the group exhibition Saturation, Thaddaeus Ropac, Pantin, Paris, until 24 September. She will have a solo exhibition at Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, in early 2023.
A brush with... Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
Ben Luke talks to Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster about her influences—from other artists to writers, film-makers and musicians—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Gonzalez-Foerster is one of the leading European artists of her generation. Born in 1965 in Strasbourg, France, she works primarily with installation but her artistic language is enormously diverse, taking in film and video, sculpture, holograms, sound, virtual reality and even smell. Her pieces range from spectacular immersive environments to enigmatic neon texts, and they draw on a wealth of references, from literature and cinema to opera and architecture. In the conversation, she discusses her early fascination with the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris and with historic forms of public entertainment. She reflects on the “almost traumatic” impact of seeing Marcel Duchamp’s work for the first time, her friendship with Felix Gonzalez-Torres, reading Peter Pan, her late discovery of opera and her abiding love of film.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster: Alienarium 5, Serpentine South Gallery, London, until 4 September. Her work OPERA (QM.15) (2016) is at the Bourse de Commerce, Paris, until 2 January 2023.
A brush with... Emma Talbot
Ben Luke talks to Emma Talbot about her influences, including writers, film-makers, musicians, and, of course, other artists, and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Talbot (born in Stourbridge, UK, in 1969) brings together drawing, painting, text, sculpture and animation in installations that fuse a personal response to her internal emotional world with societal and geopolitical issues, from feminism to capitalism and climate change. She talks about her love of the Sienese early Renaissance artist Sassetta; her troubled response to Gustav Klimt’s Three Ages of Woman (1905) and how she has used it as the basis for a new body of work made for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women; how she returns to the novels of George Orwell and Edna O’Brien; and the profound effect of Federico Fellini’s films, including Satyricon (1969). Plus, she answers our regular questions about her studio life, the art she would most like to live with, and, ultimately, what art is for.
Emma Talbot: The Age/L’Età, Max Mara Art Prize for Women, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 30 June-4 September; Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 23 October-19 February 2023. Emma Talbot’s work is included in The Milk of Dreams at the 59th Venice Biennale, until 27 November 2022.
A brush with… Stan Douglas
Ben Luke talks to Stan Douglas about his influences—including writers, film-makers, musicians, and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work. Douglas is a video artist and photographer—one of the leading pioneers of video installation and large-scale photography. He scrutinises these different media and explores how they shape our understanding of reality, through often unexpected connections between contemporary and historical events, and rich references to music and literature. Douglas discusses his early interest in Marcel Duchamp, the enduring power of artists as diverse as Francisco de Goya and Agnes Martin, his endless fascination with Samuel Beckett, and how his love of Miles Davis’s underrated album On the Corner prompted one of his best works, Luanda-Kinshasa (2013).
Stan Douglas’s project for the 59th Venice Biennale, 2011 ≠ 1848, is in the Canadian Pavilion in the Giardini and the Magazzini del Sale, Venice, until 27 November.
Just love the entire concept of this show.
Ben Luke is the perfect host .
Can’t wait for another season. Bravo!
Love this podcast so much
Many of these artists are new to me and each one is absolutely fascinating. I love the conversation each time and I love the fact that there is a standard list of questions (what music do you listen to when you work? What work of art could you not live without, what are your literary influences, etc). Ben is a great listener / interlocutor. Since I started listening I have been back to see pieces in museums by artists who have been interviewed and have a whole new appreciation of their work.
I’ve listened to the most recent two and am thrilled to have found a podcast that delves into ideas and content rather than personality and chat. There are many branches of inquiry to follow…
Wish somehow the visual being discussed were part of it, of course most of it can searched and found…