RVCA ANP artists Paul Senyol and Wesley van Eeden have a new exhibition up at A Word of Art gallery in the Woodstock Industrial Centre in Cape Town. The show will be running until the 25th May which features 9 new works from both artists as well as a limited edition Shirt, Print and zine supported by RVCA. Inside the zine is a one on one interview between the artists who chat about the exhibition, skateboarding and their creative process. Here are both their interviews that are in the zine.
1. Name, place, and some things we should know about you?
My name is Wesley van Eeden and I live in Durban. I grew up wanting to be a professional skateboarder but because I could never afford a pro deck, I used to paint my own graphics on the boards I rode. This was my introduction to the art world and from then on discovered DIY ethics in Punk Rock and realized that anyone could become an artist if they wanted to.
2. When we were in Finland together, I noticed that you have quite a diligent work ethic and creative process, please give us a rundown of how you would go about creating new work for a show/client?
Before I studied Graphic Design, I think I lacked direction in my life; the only thing I really cared about was skateboarding. When eventually applying to go and study and not getting accepted at the University, I realized that I had to work a little harder. I spent a year going to a few private art lessons as my parents could not afford the foundation course at the University and then I had to reapply to the Design Program the following year. I was lucky enough to have been the last person to be accepted into the school, and this was only because someone above me decided to study Fashion Design! So from then I got an appreciation for what was given to me and cultivated a strong work ethic.
When creating work for a show I try and work on the name of the show and a short paragraph of what I’d like to achieve before I start drawing. Doing an exhibition is a lot harder than doing work for a client as there is no set deadline or a budget and or guidelines to follow, so it’s important for me to have a sense of where I want to go with the work. I then look at a colour palette that I’d like to use for the body of work, and this often is influenced by the type of mood I am wanting to convey. I am really influenced by found objects and using these as my canvas for my ideas. A lot of my work has an underlying theme of rebirth, forgiveness, loss, love and value. So after drawing a series of sketches, I then try and match a found object to the sketch.
3. Do you have a vision for the next 5 years of your career?
For the last two years I have managed to provide for my wife and our little boy, which makes me really happy. I am at the stage where I can divide my time between personal and commercial client work. I’d like to get to a stage where I am more reliant on my personal work than the commercial work that I do. Our residency in Finland was life changing and I’d like to do that again! Ideally I’d like to be able to not only do more shows around South Africa, but also in other countries as well. I like the idea of showing works in both weird and obscure places like Morocco as well as New York. That would be great I think.
4. What does transformative bring to your attention, and how have you interpreted the title for this 2
When coming up with the show title, I had originally suggested the title: Transformative Moments. I first heard this term in an interview with Ian Makaye of Fugazi. He was explaining how we do things in our lives without knowing the impact of it in years to come. This really made me think about how we often take for granted our everyday existence, and how each thing we do today is influencing how we live tomorrow, next week, next year and many years to come. For this exhibition, I have explored themes of contemplation of characters that are thinking of their past, present, and future. I have explored simplifying and isolating some elements, and even making some elements abstract as a metaphor for change within the individual.
5. Tell us something about Paul Senyol?
Paul Senyol is a hardworking guy. He is honest, caring and probably one of the best cooks in the world! If he ever invites you for a meal at his studio you should always say yes! He makes the best flat bread pizza in the world! I discovered his work before I met him and I loved it instantly. His work has a timeless quality about it that speaks honesty and truth – a reflection of who he is as a human being. I am always honoured to do shows with him.
1. Who is Paul Senyol and why are you an artist?
Paul Senyol was born on 25 October 1980; I have been drawing since I was first given a pencil. Never really gave it much thought to become an artist full-time, until my mid-twenties. There was a definite day that I decided to become a painter, but even before that I was intrigued by process, building things, experimenting, making fires, beauty and adventure. In a way I explore those primarily through the medium of painting, or whatever else is at hand to execute an idea. I really enjoy making beautiful things.
2. Looking at your work that you did from a young age, I can see how you have evolved, yet I can still see your style in it. Is there any direct influence to your aesthetic and style that you have created for yourself?
Within my work, a lot of the time aesthetic drives me, how something looks and feels, shapes, colour, form, lines, and emotion are all very important to me. When I first started to recognise that I do actually like to draw and paint, my works were very much only line based, simple one-colour drawings. Then I discovered paint (without brushes), I could do more things now that I had color. Then came brushes, then I started to combine the pens, pencils and paints, and that is where I really started to enjoy myself, because each medium has a specific feel and texture, and so as I combine mediums and layers, I go on a bit of an adventure with colour and shape and form and line weight, etc. So in a way, as I am working on new paintings, I like to consider what I have learnt as a painter, but to still explore and push myself to create an artwork that was better than the previous one. I am constantly refining, and redefining my pre-process, process and final outcome of an artwork. I do also like to break out of my traditional process and do something a little different, usually from something small that I found attractive within a previous work. From spending time with you in Finland, you will remember that for the first month I didn’t even paint, I wanted to go into the studio and discover something fresh, so I spent a lot of time in the library, researching artists and Designers and people from the area, immersing myself in the culture, taking long bike rides and immersing myself in the landscape, discovering. Sometimes I would just trace and trace and trace, draw, draw, draw, and through that I started to discover new processes, approaches and avenues within my work. For that first month I worked almost exclusively with black acrylic paint, pencils, trace paper and white folio. Experimentation and exploration are key to my work.
3. What drives you to continue working at such a prolific rate? Do you have a manifesto or a message that you trying to get out?
I wouldn’t say that I have some manifesto or message that I am pushing, but I do know that I feel stale and stagnant if I am not pursuing something creative. Even if it means taking a break from painting for a week and exploring being creative on a surfboard, skateboard, bicycle, or going to see other art shows, or browsing the local Woodstock gang Graffiti scrawls. I am starting to realise that God put something in me that causes me to create and to be drawn to creativity and beautiful things, and I just can’t escape that. It is who I am in a way. Although it doesn’t define me, it is very much a natural part of who I am as a person. So it finds its way out of me in daily life in some way. Sometimes it’s just preparing a nice meal.. the flavours, colors, and presentation.
4. What does Transformative bring to your attention, and how have you interpreted the title for this 2 person show?
Our society and life is in a constant state of transformation, life itself is naturally transformative. In my approach to the exhibition, and the works, I took a closer look at the fabric of my everyday life, and more so to those around me. I looked at walls, people, streets, trash, trees, and birds and I looked around for interesting ways to convey this feeling of transformation in and around Woodstock. I tried to become an observer, but that can only take place for a short time until you start to become involved and a part of the transformation process. One day I picked up a small notebook, full of children’s drawings, notes and scrawls, most of the work references this small book at some point. Having a studio in Woodstock, and spending a lot of time there, I started to realise that a lot of what I am seeing and experiencing won’t really exist in the next 5 years. People will move out and onward, new people will come and stay. Lives will change. Kids will grow up. Also that there were many, many people who came before me, and will still come after me. It fascinates me to think that a few blocks from our studio is beach road, and that once upon a time you could walk a few minutes and dip your feet in the ocean. In a way I wish that was still true.
My favourite works for the show are ‘the butcher’, ‘the baker’ and ‘the candlestick maker’. In these works I try to convey the transience of local producers and craftsmen. All around Woodstock you see so much decay and poverty and people in really bad situations, but there are glimpses of hope and promise. I was inspired by the following text:
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
5. Tell us something about Wesley van Eeden?
Wesley van Eeden is a thoughtful and kind-hearted man, gentle and patient. A very creative individual. Taller than me. Married. A dad. A thinker. One of my favourite collaborators. A true friend who knows that love and sacrifice are the same thing.