+1 ::: Why are
you an artist Geoffrey, and how did you
first decide that art was your path in
I knew I was interested in art when I
was 10 and had a painting accepted in
an exhibit in Nassau, Bahamas where my
parents were then living. I had a very
hard time convincing them that that was
my chosen path and in fact they were dead
set against it. I ended up leaving home
at 15, moving to London and going to art
::: Could you tell us some more about
I have always been interested in figure
and narrative painting. I was drawn to
classical painting early on, when everyone
around me was into pop art and installations.
They bored me stupid and I couldnt
wait to get back to the National Gallery
every time to find some sanity. I did
respect the early 20th Century experiments
and was much taken with Picasso
for a long time. I start losing interest
somewhere in the painting of the 1950s.
My desire has always been to somehow find
a way to marry the elements of the past
with the present. To use classicism in
a modern way. But how? I am still searching.
I have absolutely no interest whatsoever
in conceptual art. It means nothing to
am also driven to paint about the Holocaust
as my parents were both survivors. I keep
thinking if I can paint the right picture,
my murdered aunts, uncles, cousins and
grandparents will finally leave me in
+3 ::: In some
of your more recent works the backgrounds
are painted with Rubenesque nudes and
angels. Is there a relationship between
them and your subject?
Very much. At first I was using the paintings
in the backgrounds to stop deep space
from occurring. I go to great lengths
to compress the space in my paintings
and achieve a tension between flatness
and three dimensionality. I realized that
I could play narrative games between the
painted space in the paintings
in the background and the painted space
in the painting. It is at its most obvious
in my latest paintings Quetzal
and The Reality of Things where
the cloth on the foreground figure literally
goes into the painting behind her but
she is painted in a very different way
to the painting. I never directly
copy paintings but rather paint in
the style of and manipulate the
images for my purpose. I seem to like
painting flying babies a lot at the moment!
+4 ::: What artists
have influenced you, and how?
It depends what year you ask me
Schiele, Ferdinand Hodler, Klimt,
Munch, Van Dyke, Vermeer, Rubens, George
de la Tour, Fragonard, Boucher, Watteau,
Vincent Desidirio, Odd Nerdrum, etc etc
- the list is very long and my interest
comes and goes. They have all given me
something even if its just a feeling that
I am not alone or completely crazy. We
are all in this together you know. Art
is a relay race going all the way back
to the caves. We hand the baton on and
hope the next guy runs like hell with
+5 ::: You are
also an art teacher. How has this influenced
your career as an artist?
I like to think that I am of some help
to people who have not travelled so far
down the road yet. Making art is a scary
experience for a lot of people and I try
and make them feel less scared. I can
help with the how part but not the why
part. I wish someone would help ME with
the why part!
+6 ::: What inspires
you to paint and how do you keep motivated
when things get tough in the studio?
I dont know where my ideas come
from. They just appear by themselves.
I never feel like its ME making the art,
I just turn up for the job and get my
orders. I meet a new model and just start
working. I always work from life. I cant
get anything out of photos other than
photographic reality, which is not what
I see when I look at things around me.
I am usually motivated by boredom more
than anything. When my depression reaches
stranglehold pitch, which it seems to
do on an increasingly frequent basis,
I try and just get involved in painting
or drawing something, anything really,
and within a short while I am usually
again absorbed in creating and listening
to the painting instead of my self. I
always, however, find I return to a sense
of disbelief in myself and of failure
once again to reach whatever I had felt
inside. Its a cycle that never seems
to change. I wish it would. Its painful.
+7 ::: How have
you handled the business side of being
Badly. Thats why I am still broke
after 45 years of being an artist.
+8 ::: Where
do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully still painting and not dead.
I would like to think that the work will
get better, though that may be too much
to ask for.
+9 ::: What's
the best and worst parts of being a full
time, working artist?
The best part is feeling alive making
paintings and the worst part is needing
to make paintings to feel alive. In that
I mean, when I am painting there are moments
that I am actually truly happy. Brief
and sporadic as they may be, for those
moments I am really one with the universe
and not totally dominated by self. But
those experiences are highly addictive
and have been keeping me obsessed for
45 yrs. It has led me to living a very
hard life that is filled with anxiety
and fear financially and that most ordinary
people cannot even imagine and would not
tolerate. It seems to be the lot of artists
through the ages. Quite why or what it
achieves for us mystifies me.
+10 ::: What
advice would you give to an artist just
Dont give up your day job. Lack
of money is the worst part of any artists
career and having another form of income
is the best thing an artist could have.
I wished now that I had trained as a plumber
or an electrician when I was a teenager,
as well as art. I would have had choices
that are no longer available for me.
in your dreams above all. Without them
there is no art.