Richard Gasper is a young artist whose work lends itself to discussion. His solo show ‘Black Pudding’ opens the new Bermondsey art space, Vitrine Bermondsey Street, and sets the standard for what this new contender promises- new art to make you think, feel, and all that’s in between. We caught up with Richard Gasper ahead of the opening.
As an emerging artist, interested parties will be reliant on Google. A quick search on Google throws up many takes upon your latest exhibition. In your own words, what is Black Pudding exploring?
Black Pudding will address some fairly meaty concerns surrounding sexuality, materiality, gender and cultural aesthetics, but more specifically I'm very interested in the relationships we have with particular materials or objects. I don't necessary mean typically art-related materials but, for an example, the way people like to stroke the upholstery of a nice car or how one gets aroused when eating say a yummy cheese. I associate such interactions with notions of desire, aspiration and sexuality. I'm also interested within the pursuit of aspiration becoming warped, violent and out of control- stabbings at the Ikea sail or looting JB sports for hip trainers. Black Pudding will not be a literal comment about these kinds of things but they have certainly infused the making of this body of work. I've been playing up to what I call a dirty/bling aesthetic which is ridden with contradiction and deals with a breakdown of notions of glamour.
You jump between photography, sculpture and painting. What are the challenges within each medium?
When I was studying at the Slade, a lot of us were looking at artists such as Isa Genzkin or Jason Rhodes. There’s a refined sense of excess within both of their practices which I admire deeply but they have also used all kinds of mediums and combined these together in very sophisticated ways. I guess it became a normal trait as an artist to make pairings, sculpture and performance all at the same time. Sometimes you make a sculpture and suddenly you realise it needed to be paired with a photographic image- I see them all existing together but the challenge is to make them exist in a refined and hopefully refreshing way. This took along time to achieve.
It's hard to miss the food theme. Berries open your website, and works looking at blackened lobsters and coconuts linger in the mind. What is it about food, and the growing food culture that is of interest?
They’re actually not berries but a lump of caviar. I like things to take on multiple interpretations and so I'm pleased you think they’re berries. Anyway I'm equally interested in food as I am visual art and from a very early age I was encouraged to do both. Apart from the way they are consumed I see little distinction between the two- you have a given number of materials or ingredients and they are used and combined in a particular way with a particular set of tools. I consider both to be explored in sensual and indeed sexual ways. I'm also interested in the shifting notions of food trends- offal for example has had a big comeback in past decade and at many restaurants they’re charging a lot of money for what’s traditionally considered cheap cuts. I'm not adverse to this in any way as I believe every bit of the animal should be eaten and cooked with love by people who know how to cook- I just find it an interestingly subversive situation. I guess Black Pudding, the title for the show, is in some ways a reference to this but more so and perhaps on a more personal note I find it a contradictory substance to consume. Part of me finds it delicious and part of me finds it repugnant and vulgar - congealed pigs blood shouldn't be that yummy but somehow it is. Such contradictions I try to implicate into my practice. Beyond all this the title isn't meant to be quite so literal but to be considered in more poetic terms- beyond its meaning Black Pudding makes me think of all kinds of strange and sordid things……..
Would it be correct to read an interest in form, or rather, a challenge of, in your work?
Obviously as a visual artist part of me is interested in form but I’m equally interested in materiality or ideas, cooking and cycling. I can't put things into sections like that.
How would you describe your creative process?
It sounds quite cliched but as young child you play and experiment- I don't think much has changed. What differs is the intention of the final result- if there is one. But also I have very visual dreams most nights- often their quite scary and surreal- this has fed my work a lot. Perhaps I should make films.
What can we expect next?
Next- well actually that will be a moving image work- perhaps filmed or made with a video- not sure yet as I need some proper funding for this although it sounds quite simple. I used to work as a cheesemonger and probably the most erotic moment of my life was to rip open (down the middle) a round of Parmesan cheese. It was hard work as their very heavy and greasy on the outside so there’s an element of wrestling. But the final 'rupture' of the cheese which literally feels like ripping was so sensational, perverse, and delicious I often think about it and that memory make me very excited. Anyway I want to capture that moment of rupture in a highly sexualised and violent way. I'm also interested in the production process of this 'king' of cheeses. I have a friend who grew up near Bibbiano which is it apparently its birth place and he knows some of the producers and farmers. It would be perfect to make the work there.
Questions: Coco Khan
Vitrine Bermondsey Street opens today with Richard Gasper’s Black Pudding as the lead (and only) show. First Floor, 183-185 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UW, Wednesday - Saturday 12-6pm