Image © Backwoords Gallery
The Pack © Fred Fowler
Feather Wattle © Fred Fowler
FF: I have an exhibition in Sydney in March at Koskela which i’m really excited about - it’s my first solo exhibition in Sydney so it’ll be great to hopefully reach a bit of a new audience. I’ve also been working on a collaboration with the clothing label Gorman for their Autumn/Winter 16 collection. I’m also looking forward to doing some road trips this year to see some rock art sites in W.A and the N.T.
Article written by Mel Fletcher
Text by Mel Fletcher 2016
Images © Fred Fowler and photographers mentioned
Based in Melbourne Australia Fred Fowler paints an assortment of ambiguous symbols that reflect themes of colonisation, globalisation and the environment. With a solo show in Sydney soon approaching, Fowler talks about the methods and colour choices in his works.
Words by Mel Fletcher
MF: What is the process of your paintings? Where is the beginning and end? And how long does one painting typically take?
FF: Over the years i’ve developed a way of working which is a bit unusual but allows me a lot of freedom to experiment and make mistakes and also gives me a lot of control. I start off by almost wildly making marks and putting as much colour and texture down on the painting surface as possible. After this layer dries I then mix up a ‘main’ colour or colours and then paint it over the majority of the layer underneath. As I fill in the main colour I pick out shapes and elements that catch my eye - symbols like trees, plants and animals. When I discovered this way of painting I was thinking about making the visual equivalent of Phil Spector’s ’Wall of Sound’ - a wall of images. When everything goes according to plan I can finish a painting in about 2-3 days all up, not including drying times. But sometimes they just aren’t working for whatever reason and i’ll crack it and put them in the store room and keep coming back and changing things intermittently. Some paintings will stay in the studio for a few years before i’m happy with them.
MF: The titles of your paintings are of specific places. How do the "objects" in the work relate to the titles?
FF: To be honest the way I title my work is pretty random - often the title does not reference the objects in the work, it’s more about the vibe. I’m always on the lookout for interesting titles and whenever they pop into my head I write them down on a list. Once I finish a painting I’ll then go through my list and pick out a name that works with the painting. Sometimes I do start of with a particular landscape or place in mind and I work towards that but most of the times it’s almost like pulling names out of a hat.
MF: The backgrounds are muted colours with floating
"objects" on top that give the works splashes of energy, yet there doesn't seem to be a literal reference from shape to meaning through the use of colour. How to you go about deciding colours in your paintings?
FF: What I usually do is have a main colour in mind when I start a painting, I then tailor the objects or details keeping in mind I’ll come back and paint over most of the surface with a main colour. It’s important to get lots of different colours down, the more colours, textures and patterns I have the more there is to choose from when finishing the work. I’m actually a bit red/green colourblind so it’s nice when people comment positively about the colours in my work.
MF: How do you want people to respond to your work?
FF: I like leaving the work open to interpretation as much as possible, but ultimately I like it when people ‘get’ the intent behind the work. Most of my recent work deals with issues surrounding colonisation, globalisation and the environment, I like to think of them as meditations on these subjects. But ultimately it’s just good to get a positive response of any kind, as an artist you are competing with mass media, film, tv and advertising - so it’s a real challenge to make work that people engage with. I try to make paintings that have a certain degree of ambiguity so hopefully people can see different things on repeat viewings.
MF: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?