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Catching up with Jean-Luc Almond on his Commission

in Interviews by Cass Art
Catching up with Jean-Luc Almond on his Commission

Almost a year has passed since we last caught up with Jean-Luc Almond, the painter and one of the prize-winners in last year's National Open Art Competition. His exhibited painting won The Big Prize from Cass Art: a day shadowing an artist of his choice, as well as a commission, which he has now completed.

His finished painting, Blow, was put together with a most unusual process, and he met with painter Justin Mortimer to tour his exhibition at Paraffin Gallery. We wanted to find out more about his commissioned painting and what he learnt from his artist shadowing.

Hi Jean-Luc! Can you tell us about ‘Blow’, the painting commissioned by Cass Art. How did you go about making it?

The painting was constructed through processes of creation, destruction, damage and repair. I took elements from a broad range of images in my studio and put them together, like a collage. I would then photograph the painting and manipulate it digitally using Photoshop. This method interested me the most as it allowed me to take various inspirations and bring them together.

As it was a completely open brief, what was the inspiration for the painting?

Combining history and the present; historic film stills, old master paintings and Victorian photographs together with current day mug shots. Together the images give the painting the characteristics of feeling in flux and ambiguous, the red triangle is used to give a formal structure to the composition. The tonal contrasts reference baroque paintings and sepia Victorian photographs but the face itself was a combination of present day mug shots. The synthetic colours altered the context further by polluting the image. The destructive marks and colour bring the painting to life and give it an energy and resonance. It took the painting beyond the representational and embraced what paint can do and my fascination with texture.

What was it like shadowing the painter Justin Mortimer for a day?

I’ve admired Justin’s paintings for a long time and so it was great to be able to talk to him in person about his work. He was very open about his concepts and technique, which was helpful. He also seemed interested in my work so it was great to be able to share ideas and talk about our mutual passions for painting. He took me around his latest exhibition and we spoke about the inspirations behind his new body of work and how he creates them. It was very inspiring. His paintings are beautifully constructed and executed with flawless technique.

Has your practice changed in any way since you won the prize at NOA last year?

It has evolved in a natural way. I have started a new series of larger works that have incorporated some more recognisable historical figures. They incorporate more of the figure as well as the face. The new paintings have been challenging but also exciting as I see them continue to evolve. Winning the prize was fantastic, and now I want to take my work further and keep exploring new ideas.

What else are you working towards at the moment?

I’ve got an exiting new exhibition coming up at Leontia Gallery in London in late October. It is titled ‘There and Now’ and I hope to have some of my new larger works ready to show then.

Jean-Luc Almond and Michael Harding

Feeling inspired?

Read another blog post about Jean-Luc Almond's paintings here.

Visit Jean-Luc's website and explore more of his paintings here