DEAN FOX · LIGHT IN THE DARK

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“I started painting as a child from as early as I can remember. I always wanted my work to portray a message or mood that would translate to the viewer so it was more about subjectivity than just painting for me. I was always drawn to anatomy and the use of the figure to get a point across. This is why I was extremely drawn to the Renaissance, baroque and pre-raphaelites eras as the images encompassed all the elements I was drawn to, form ,drafting an understanding of traditional painting methods ,composition and story telling . When I was a kid and now looking back at works, I was always touching on suffering and the nature of the mind within my work. They were always dark in nature and dark in presentation probably as my father often took me to museums and artists like Caravaggio stood out to me. I loved the dark earth col limited pallets set against the gold framing and size and stature of the works. It wasn’t till I matured and was able to look back that I realised I was finding out about myself and my own nature through my art.”

When we thought we had seen it all, we were “Oh, so lucky!” to meet Dean Fox; the British artist made us believe in reencarnation. His work makes past eras come back to life and he achieves what many tried before him, and failed: he adds contemporary elements to Renaissance images. We are as surprised as you are.

Somewhere in between I lost myself working commercially and being told what to produce, working to briefs. Sometimes you have to leave what you love for it to come back with more ferocity and passion.

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“My job role as a commercial artist was called a visualiser. It has been the best training I ever had and made me professional,constantly working to deadlines and under pressure. I had to learn how to draw the figure from any angle doing anything without reference . I use the techniques I learnt in terms of framing and drafting for all my paintings. Rarely a painting comes out straight onto the canvas. It’s like writing a essay, you need to create drafts and preparation notes before tackling the final piece. This way you iron out all your errors and familiarise urself to the subject . I do preparation sketches , small painting studies and use the computer to create the image as a way of easily correcting elements and so I can see the final image before I go ahead with the painting. The less corrections I have to do when tackling a large painting the better!”

You use colors that remind of the classics; does any particular artist inspire you?

As I mentioned earlier, my col pallet is very limited and earthy. It helps create a natural and traditional feel. Great painters like zorn or Sargent would often create works using only four colours and I find myself doing the same very naturally. There’s a whole heap of artists that are like this that have inspired me, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

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I think we are always changing and as any creative your work is a reflection of your maturity spiritually. You can mature in many ways. The work I am doing now is just a reflection of where I’m at. I have a totally different outlook within the last few years of my life, one that is closer to my naturalness as a child. Now the work may look dark in presence but in theme the works are completely opposite to this. They represent light and try to touch on our inert nature. Something that is almost impossible to do in words or images as it is none of these things. I love this challenge to express what cannot be expressed within us and try to define the indefinable.

 

I have always been drawn to oil and charcoal the most. However, I love to play around with all techniques and would never want to limit myself. Creativity needs many routes of expression and the more strings to your bow the more easily you can translate your minds eye.

 

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Neon for me is a massive contrast to the tones of the paintings and I love this contrast. Complementaries are what this world is all about. Dark and light, night and day, good and bad. They are two ends of the same scale complimenting each other. I use the neon in the works to represent spirit (a light beyond the usual spectrum of col) . Often the neon elements have been used as halos mimicking a lot of Renaissance works or hearts reflecting the source of all things. Neon can be quite over powering at times as beautiful as it is. I wanted to find a way of using it within painted subjects minimally to compliment the art and bring a new dimension to the work. I also love how the pieces transform at night and the ambience they can create.

Seeing your work, people might think you’re a rather dark character however you have a lively & cheerful personality; does it come as a surprise to those who know you?

(Laughs) You can never really define anyone. One day there’s happiness one day there’s frustration, sometimes thoughts are light, sometimes dark. I’ve realised I’m none of these things so generally I feel at peace. I try to watch my mind as a passive observer really. I’m full of contradictions and I suppose then the art that comes from me is too. Those who know me better prob know I can be all these ways but that’s just the human element, it’s the same for everyone unless you are a machine.

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If you had to choose a famous character, dead or alive, to make a painting of, who would it be?

I have recently painted Frederick Nietzche as he’s a great philosopher, but I would probably turn to the sages and someone like Mooji, as I feel these people need to become made more publicly aware because of their message and importance for the world in its current state of affairs.

I’d say my art is equally enjoyed regardless of country, but I have mainly focused on London with the neons and they’ve had a great reaction.

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Do you have any relation with your buyers?

One collector lives nearby and has invited me over to see works in situ. We chat every now and then, but generally no.

The road to success has been testing at times and the art has definitely brought up things for me to transcend and pushes buttons that nothing else other than a relationship could press. I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult , determination with something you love and have passion for can be frustrating at times but gets you through it. I’ve tried to let go of any outcomes as generally I find that if u put intention on yourself or your art, you have blocked a free flowing expression and as Mooji once said, “where there is Intension , there is usually tension!” some of my works I have been proudest of have been created for no particular reason in mind. When I try to create something I’m usually disappointed . I like the art to find itself through me and not take ownership of it. Yes I’ve practiced and homed my skill sets, but creativity and inspiration comes from a completely different source and can’t b cultivated, just allowed.

Would you like to teach upcoming artists who look up to you?

I do sometimes do private lessons in my studio and when the times right would love to help others within their art.

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The art moves alongside you and you are only as good as where you are at. I think to often it is easy as the writer or artist to translate what’s wrong with the world and we see it all to often, with no real change. Being reminded of this all the time doesn’t help so with where I am now I want to really go against that and remind who I can about there inert beauty.

Has becoming a father changed your work?

Yes, the child’s innocence and Buddha like nature has already been playing on my mind for future works as he’s the perfect metaphor for all I want to express. I’ve planned one huge piece that at some point will hopefully get started when the time is right.

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I would love to have the work one day in Venice and that’s purely for selfish reasons as I love the place and it would just be a great excuse for a trip over there! Other than that I am thrilled to have my work anywhere were galleries enjoy and get what I do!

Many artists have the art they sell and they art they enjoy; does the art-business condition your work?

I hate the idea of producing art for someone else or for sales. If people don’t like what I do that comes naturally to me then I couldn’t care less. Art is so subjective u can’t please all the people all the time. I try not to play it safe with subject matters and aim to please myself, which I rarely do which is the motive I need to keep pushing my boundaries.

My advice for upcoming artists is be true to urself. Too many artists do the same thing over and over so that others can have an idea about who they are ,when who you are is always changing and can never truly be defined. You can get to the top of your game and had adhered to everyone else’s expectations of you along the way and find once you are there it’s irrelevant and not what you wanted as you’re not happy. The aim is to be happy enjoy what you do, love it and then determination isn’t a challenge. If you force your work or put intension with it, usually it becomes shallow and people find it insincere and don’t connect with it. If it comes from the heart people can’t help falling in love with it.

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