Suggestive, evocative, atmospheric and dreamlike, abstract artist LEAH BEGGS tells us about her new exhibition at Solomon Fine Art …
What was the starting point for this exhibition – “The Space Between”?
“The Space Between” is a new series of paintings, which delve further into abstraction from previous works. This body of work explores the landscape of memories, suggesting a sense of place, an atmosphere, or a feeling, rather than depicting a particular scene. In its essence I suppose I am painting a landscape that I feel, rather than one I see.
What is the significance of the exhibition title?
My paintings have always been informed by the Irish landscape with subtle representation of elements such as rocks, bog, sea and sky etc. When you take a closer look at the work you can appreciate the layers and textures that lie beneath the surface. The paintings are as much about the medium of paint and the process of painting as well as an interpretation of the Irish landscape, depicting that “space between” dreams and reality, real or imagined.
How and where do you work?
I work from my studio at home in Co Galway. I am constantly gathering inspiration while out and about, be it on camera or just lodging it in the back of my mind. When I get into my studio I start painting with “warm up” pieces to get the creativity going and it usually flows from there. Working mainly with oils on canvas, I paint in a layering, sketching process. I start by creating a ground with thinned-out washes of oil paint, creating drips and splashes along the way. I tend to work on a number of canvases at the same time, each one feeds the next. With thicker more opaque paint I paint out certain areas, or enhance others, constantly editing, until a composition begins to emerge. I use brushes, rags, my fingers or palettes knives to create soft layers that result in an illusion of texture. It’s hard to know when it’s finished, and often paintings succumb to the overdone pile! Thankfully that doesn’t happen too often and I am satisfied with the final piece.
Has your painting style evolved over time – have you been influenced by any other artists?
Moving from a city to the countryside has certainly changed my style of painting over time, definitely becoming freer. It has also evolved as I’ve become more confident in what I do. My most recent body of work has a different colour palette to its predecessors. This was a big change for me and now I know I don’t have to stick with blue.
I would say that I’m inspired by, more than influenced by, other artists. I think every artist is, in some shape or form. Hasn’t it been said that nothing is original? What’s important is that what you create is authentic and comes from you. I think social media and platforms such as Instagram have allowed artists to share much more of their work and in turn has created a vast viewing platform. While you can fall into an Instagram wormhole of art observing, there is nothing quite like seeing an artwork in person. This resonates in particular with me, as you can’t appreciate the full effect of either the scale or the painted layers in my work from the comfort of your Instagram feed!
Have you a favourite painting in the exhibition?
Can I have two? I like ‘The Space Between” as it is probably the most dreamlike of all of them. However, while my paintings can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer, the titles tend to evoke something you wouldn’t have necessarily seen or thought about. I love some of the sayings I hear about the Irish weather and I often give some of those sayings as titles to my paintings, so it would be safe to say that “You Wouldn’t Put a Gate Out In It” is a personal favourite.
Need to Know: “The Space Between” is at Solomon Fine Art, Balfe Street, Dublin 2 from January 11 – February 2; www.solomonfineart.ie.
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