English Painter Edward Coyle Talks To Artlyst About Material Space, Aborted Futures, And Serendipity

Edward Coyle

Berloni Gallery presents ‘BUILD!’, a solo exhibition by English painter Edward Coyle, following the artist’s twelve month on-site residency at the gallery. Coyle creates a framework for his practice from various source materials, including photography and video, 3D modelling software, and data corruption processes, to form the basis of an empirical study into the conjectured histories of architectural spaces that ‘could’ encompass the figure.

The works present fictional structures sourced from reality, and then modified. The paintings are added to in layers and then reduced, edited, scraped away, and textured; resulting in solid and ephemeral architectural forms in simultaneous levels of completion, through Coyle’s practice of an on-canvas-edit. The inclusion of visual data corruption from the video and digital source material exposes ruptures, glitches and anachronisms that speak of a collective memory, and a multiplicity of standpoints.

Coyle’s process is a continual act of rectifying the image, returning to the canvas again, and again, adding, and then stripping back to create a painterly convincing – yet fictional space. Edward Coyle was kind enough to talk to Artlyst about his residency, the latest oeuvre, and the complex nature of the artist’s practice.

A: “Talk to us a little about your process Edward, what are the intrinsic elements that form the structure of your painting practice?”

EC: “I think the process is very important in the work, the driving force, but also as important as the content I think, the construction element of the image, and the actual construction of the painting – and how the layers obscure one-another – is quite important in how I work. I generally start with a photograph of some architectural feature, and then I work that up onto canvas, then I go into 3D modelling software and model the photograph as I see it in 3D – adding new elements; which is why in some of the works you might see wire-frame construction lines. Some of the marks are architectural language, and some are for myself as a painter to work out the geometry of things. A lot of the grids and slices that you see are me working out the painting.”

A: “So you start with a 2D image of real architecture and you ‘fictionalise’ the source material through the 3D process?”

EC: “Yes – so looking at the ‘concrete’ work in the paintings, [the original source] is from Japanese architects, the dimpled effect in the work is from Tadao Ando. I start at the left-hand side of the painting and then from that I either begin to work in free-form and start slapping stuff on the canvas – and then take it away – or maybe take it into 3D – Photoshop it – there are a myriad of processes – that’s the background stuff.”

A: “So are all the pieces in the show are considered to be individual pieces, or is this an oeuvre, a body of work, is there a painterly narrative?”

EC: “I hadn’t really considered them – as I was painting them – to be a body of work, but I think they do tie into one-another. It’s a reasonably small studio up there, and I’m constantly surrounded by the work, and I think that’s telling in the end result. All the works are untitled so any individual lead-in [using a title] is not going to help you. I found a LIDAR model of the Old Vic on YouTube, and also some other found imagery of motorway constructions, and through the process of data corruption – datamoshing – I spliced the two videos together, and where they joined, some of those ruptures and glitches that were captured, became serendipitous in terms of how the paint was handled – while others are considered.”

A: “So the actual action of mark making is a response to the serendipitous material in those images?”

EC: “Yes, and no. In certain parts I’m trying to map how these glitches and digital interferences kind of look, but I’m constantly trying to rationalise the entire image, and I find it very hard to leave a lot of those fissures in there, I find myself having to try and resolve the material space so that it’s a more believable environment. But at the same time knowing consciously that I would like to leave a lot of those in, because of the process and the lengths that I’ve gone to.”

A: “Who are your influences as a painter?”

EC: “A lot of German artists, Matthias Weischer, the Leipzig School, Toby Ziegler… David Schnell, they are my main influences – I think it’s especially the solidity of the paint – particularly with Matthias – I’m interested in the population of space, I find myself doing that without necessarily wanting to make it into a domestic lived-in space, but with that kind of option left slightly open.”

A: “So this body of individual works has been created over a twelve month period during the residency here at Berloni, has there been an evolution in terms of the work?”

EC: “I’ve completed this particular residency – I may actually begin to plan my paintings more – I think the surface is sacrificed slightly by constantly evolving the image. It’s good in some parts, but I think that I yearn for a more luscious surface, it can get a little chalky when you are doing so much removal.”

A: “But the adding and then subsequent removal of surfaces is an intrinsic part of your painting process? trying to resolve the image so that it works, as a believable architectural space, even though you’ve intentionally fictionalised it.”

EC: “yes I think that kind of ‘search’ is what it’s all about, so you’ll see a lot of architectural implements, in terms of the marks, and measurements and staves – the theodolites that populate the spaces – I don’t know why they’re there – maybe to suggest that someone is considering the space, that someone is in the painting and considering what is going on around it.”

A: “Are the theodolites a replacement for a kind of figurative absence in the architectural spaces?”

EC: “There are some figures in my work, in a lot of these paintings there have been figures – and with the exception of a few – I’ve always removed them by the end of the process. If they did exist, they no longer exist, the figures are placed in to begin with – I think the sense of narrative that is created when you stick a figure into a space is further away from where I want the focus to be. The removal of the figure is the removal of a narrative. I think it’s inherently a man-made structure anyway, there’s enough ‘human’ in it perhaps. I think that the options that are available suggest that someone is contemplating different possibilities, aborted futures, or abandoned ideas.”

Edward Coyle: BUILD! – Berloni Gallery – until 9 May 2015

Words: Edward Coyle with Paul Black. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2015 all rights reserved


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