Painting at the End of the World had the opportunity to catch up with painter Lucas Dupuy recently, and gained this invaluable insight into his painting practice.
PATEOTW: So, thank you for agreeing to be part of the exhibition in July.
LD: Yes, I’m very curious.
PATEOTW: Yes, hopefully a great Launchpad for the organisation, to meet painters and focus in on painters painting. Hopefully the focus of Painting at the End will become apparent in the questions that I have for you.
LD: I’ve been following your work for a while, maybe 2 years or so?
PATEOTW: Yes, around 2016 I became aware of your work, via your Instagram account. So there are several photo-collages on your insta page from around that time that I wanted to start with if that’s ok? I was attracted by the juxtaposition of disparate imagery. So I know that is maybe a long time ago?
LD: Funny you should say that actually. Taking photographs has been an inherent part of my practice for a long, long time. I like collating a lot of information, of all the things that I am interested in. I have 2 terabytes of photos on hard drives. Those works that you mentioned, was me trying to compile that information a little bit. Trying to gage what was happening with them all. It’s the research activity. It is important and relates to my whole process. My first solo show included a zine of lots of 35mm photos and print based paintings that were collages of some of the photographs. I was really interested in combining them to find out what might happen with juxtaposition, composition etc. I seem to have moved away from that quite a lot. I have though, recently been talking with a friend about the possibility of a publication of these and other kinds of images.
PATEOTW: You make so much work and it’s hard to see the exact moment of a transition between concerns, its more fluid than that. So, I’m looking at you insta page at around the middle of 2016 and there are painted sketches and paintings, where it appears you are using that research in large format, where you isolate images into grid systems. I wonder at what point the content of those images, or that research became less important, and it became more about formal composition?
LD: I think it was a natural progression really, I did go through a series of painting landscapes and rocks, looking at nostalgia. I was searching for something, through making those paintings, I got more interested in the formal elements of composition, rather than replicating photos. The photos are interesting and important, but I didn’t see how me replicating them in paint would do them any justice. I don’t have the patience. I can’t focus for that long. It felt like it was time to move on.
PATEOTW: When you lose the desire to recreate the photograph in the painting and moving forward in time on your insta profile, I want to ask about the emergence of the flat rectangular shapes, those corner ‘L’ shapes etc. They begin to overlap elements in the paintings, marks, images etc. Do they originate from those earlier collages? Are they paired down compositional elements? Is that the way it went?
LD: I was focusing on maps and science of human settlements, diagrams etc. My dad gave me a book, Ekistics, The Science of Human Settlements by C A Doxiadis and I became obsessed with layouts of maps, aerial views of villages and towns etc. So the work became a lot more graphic. A lot of colour was involved there in gouache sketches I was making. At the same time my Aunt, who worked as a graphic designer, gave me ruling pen, where you load the tip with gouache and it produces really clean crisp lines. It’s a versatile medium, I was making 2 or 3 drawings per day at that time. I like to exhaust a process it seems, before I move on.
PATEOTW: I’m looking at an image from October 2016, of 2 paintings overlaid with graphic devices. Are they paintings or prints?
LD: Those are prints. I was originally going to make paintings, that was my first show. I was making a lot of photo collage digitally. Lots of cut ups. I was working towards a small zine publication on a risograph machine. I got to the point where I thought that what I was doing in Photoshop, was perhaps more interesting than what I could do in painting. I was interested in the crispness of the image as it was so decided to print them on canvas and stretch them around a frame and give them a frame.
PATEOTW: So, they are disguised as paintings?
LD: They broke away from what I was used to. I was happy with them. I didn’t feel bad that they weren’t a painting.
PATEOTW: One of the interesting things about them, and I guess this is a question. They are prints likely laser jet or bubble, it’s a machine-made painting from data. Which is the new conversation that we are having as painters. Whether that’s about analogue, post analogue etc. It’s a valid gesture?
PATEOTW: One last question about this part of your practice, is about juxtaposition. Historically it is a way of opening up content, corrupting images etc. Bringing disparate images together gives us something new, in the middle. I want to ask you a bit about that. What do you think happens in juxtaposition? What is interesting in the that phenomena for you?
LD: Good question. There are a few different sides to that I think. There is a desire to combine different things together for an end goal. Then it always comes down to something inherent visually. I’m a ‘visual person’ and juxtaposition is very satisfying to me and that’s way it is included in all the work that I make…satisfying and appealing. Tough to answer.
PATEOTW: Coming forward in time through Instagram, I keep seeing notebook pages with what appear to resemble hieroglyphs or geometric shape systems. How do you describe them?
LD: I prefer blocks and shapes, but of course they do relate to hieroglyphs and symbols in general.
PATEOTW: In terms of signs, and thinking about your own Dyslexia, and reading or not reading signs, there is a great relationship between the photographic research, signs that are secret etc. Could you tell me about the building of the vocabulary, drawn from lots of sources, that you are creating?
LD: I think for the past year or so, I have become more and more interested in signs, symbols, hieroglyphs, reading, writing etc, especially thinking about dyslexia. All of that is me going deep into research on a particular subject. I am making connections between things. I’m reading the cleaning of graffiti as the cleaning of words. Reading shapes in architecture as language. They are all languages that I can’t understand. It’s interesting to try to figure out why language might be alien to me. I’m looking for similarities, like between Japanese and graffiti removal.
PATEOTW: Forgive me for a stupid art and culture question I guess. In terms of this particular visual language you have made, how do you imagine the audience engage with the work? Do you think they might try to read it?
LD: I don’t think people try to read it per se, but I have had friends say they can pick out letters. That’s quite interesting. Nobody ever told me they read it in a particularly explicit way. I’m happy for people to relate to it in terms of Dyslexia, which some have, but if they don’t that’s totally fine also.
PATEOTW: An aesthetic question might be about the flip between hard edged shapes and blurs. So, late in 2017 on your feed, there are large format works that are soft and diffuse, with harder shapes overlaid. That kind of diversity in your language, in your aesthetic, how and when does that become a necessity?
LD: I use a spray gun for those blurs, and came from the fact that when I was learning to read, the words would jump around and blur. I had to get grey or blue acetate sheets to help with that. That is where the reference for palette comes from. Makes text less intense.
PATEOTW: OK, so is that where the creamy beige ground in a lot of the works comes from to?
LD: The acetate sheets come in many different colours to take the white down. I was always trying lots of different ones. They grey and blue used to work quite well for me. I like the grey as an aesthetic choice in the work.
PATEOTW: Recent work includes committing some of these shape systems back into the urban environment and on architecture?
LD: for about 6 months or so I’ve been interested in making those drawings on a larger scale out of the physical limitations of the studio. On a wall somewhere in a field, I can increase scale. I’m not doing it too much. It’s interesting for me to do on an irregular basis.
PATEOTW: Are you doing that wherever you can, or are people inviting you to do it via commission?
LD: I had a friend who ran a shutter project in Tokyo so I did one there, but other than that, it’s me off my own back.
PATEOTW: I have zoomed way forward now in the feed and I’m looking at a recent image from your show at Union Gallery. The install of a large-scale painting there, what are the dimensions?
LD: It’s about three meters by 140 cm tall. Three paintings hung to look as one. There is also a floor painting made with emulsion and sand. I wanted the whole space to operate, they sit together so they become one.
PATEOTW: Is the show still on? Has there been a lot of interest? What’s next?
LD: Yeah, it’s on until June 9th and its had a really positive reception, it’s been really nice. From now I’m trying to finish a publication before the end of the show. It’s all the images and plans for the paintings in the show. I’m also planning a collaborative show with a friend, so that’s happening. It’s all happening.