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Study event review: Nathan Eastwood’s studio thumb

Study event review: Nathan Eastwood’s studio

After an excellent visit to Eddie’s ‘End of Degree Show’ in the morning at Halpern Gallery, Nucleus Arts Centre, we walked along Chatham High St to Nathan Eastwood’s studio at Sun Pier House.

Nathan greeted us at the entrance and showed us to his shared studio space on the second floor.

The information sheet Nathan kindly provided explained his artistic journey from MA to current practice. 

Nathan’s MA studies lead him to edit his practice, “reducing my paintings to a minimal monochromatic object”. This Formalist route was very dependent on the conversation the work had with the gallery space, and eventually Nathan was finding this restrictive to his practice.

Life events lead him to re-examine what kind of work he wanted to create, Minimalist or Figurative? In 2011 he discovered a way to “combine both a reductionist process and realistic aesthetic, this aesthetic is the combination of minimal, greyscale, realist painting” 

His process involves taking photographs of everyday subjects, and then allowing those images to percolate over a length of time. From this stored data base, he selects images, or parts of images, then edits, and manipulates them to create the desired base image for his works. “The photograph acts as the bridge between my painted support and the real world”. 

Using the traditional practice of squaring up (also linking back to his earlier interest in grids) he undertakes his work in monochromatic enamel paint, using a medium to slow the drying process. He then builds the painting painstakingly in layers creating a luminosity that only enamel paint can achieve. 

Nathan states he does not see his work as Photorealist, but would class it as Social Realist enjoying the imperfection naturally created by the paint, however the images are ‘Convincing’ *

The artist has a wide range of influences including Mama Andersen and George Shaw. **

It was really interesting, to stand in Nathan’s studio and listen to him describing his journey from MA to a working, and award-winning painter. It was also interesting hearing him talk about his way forward. As an artist standing still is not an option, development is a constant. He is seeking innovative ways to converse with the audience further, drawing on all that he has learnt previously.

 On a day when we had seen Eddie bringing his Degree learning journey to its close, it was great to see Nathan demonstrate how all that is learnt during the formal learning journey provides the tools to develop beyond into an active, vibrant art practice, even if this can sometimes take time to get there. 

Thank you to Nathan for his time, warm welcome, and informative chat on what it is to be a working artist. 

Nicola Davey, February 2022

* Thank you Eddie for the turn of phrase 

** There were a lot more but those are the ones I could remember

I found it particularly stimulating to spend time with two such different artists’ work on the same day  and to have the good fortune to hear directly from them about their influences and practices. As Paula mentioned during the day, artists’ work always ends up becoming a “self portrait “, whether we intend to or not, because we can’t help but express fundamental things about ourselves with our choices of materials, process, subject matter etc. I love this aspect of looking at other artists’ work, as I feel it’s a way of getting to the core of who they are in a really direct and honest way. 

Eddie’s very personal work explores life-changing physical experiences and his ongoing negotiations with pain, using figuration and accessible cultural iconography. He’s at a stage that I hope to be at in a few years’ time- coming to the end of the BA Painting degree, having identified a motivating theme and continuing to experiment in an open way with materials  and process. 

Nathan Eastwood is an established, prize-winning artist, whose work negotiates territory between minimalist abstraction and figurative social realism.  I found this tension very interesting, because I suspect that it is a manifestation of complexities within the artist himself, and his feelings about the world around him. The work that we saw was in enamels (oily, slick, opaque), but Nathan told us that he is also now working in inks (watery, potentially more transparency).  I think this contrast between the effect of mediums on similar subject matter would be very interesting to compare.

Lucy Farrington, February 2022

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Posted by author: Paula MacArthur
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