Home Interviews Gary Roberts: Watching the painter, painting

Gary Roberts: Watching the painter, painting

by John Maguire
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Gary Roberts Artist
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On the eve of showing new work at Candid Arts in Islington, London, ten million hardbacks caught up with Chester-born artist Gary Roberts to talk paint, influences and rebel kids.


10mh: Tell us about the exhibition.

My new collection of paintings is homage to the rebel kids. I have investigated themes such as nature vs nurture, sibling rivalry and the pressure of masculinity in a man’s youth. The work is autobiographical and covers the story of my brother and I and the different paths we have chosen in life.

10mh: Which creative people do you feel have influenced your work?

Stephen King has been a huge inspiration to me. He is an incredible character writer; he has taught me the values of hidden depths. Each portrait I paint you can take at face value, but the viewer also has the option to explore the layers to get the character’s back story.

Joni Mitchell has also influenced my work. She has mastered the art of the autobiographical piece without it sounding too self-gratifying.

Blunt Trauma small

10mh: Can you remember the first thing you painted?

I went to a very religious school. Whenever we would do bible studies there was always an opportunity to draw some disturbing imagery, usually drenched in blood. I think I have the Bible to thank for my love of the macabre and the grotesque.

10mh: Do you have a ritual/routine before an exhibition opens?

I try my best to have a day off before I show my work. I will meditate, catch up on sleep, and walk my dogs. Anything to centre me. The work is very personal to me and putting it out in the world can be a very daunting task. So I try to be in the best possible place, mentally.

10mh: If you had to be a colour of paint what would you be and why?

I would be flesh tint. That way I could be hundreds of colours at once.

10mh: What music do you play in the studio?

Music is very important to me. I listen to Radio 6 Music most of the time. Alternative music is the place to go if you enjoy something sonically creative. The mainstream doesn’t excite me as it used to. Other than that – Kate Bush, Laura Marling, Father John Misty, Haim, Hole, Madonna, Kings of Leon, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Baroque music. If nothing is stimulating me musically I stick on an audiobook. Ideally I would like to read and paint at the same time but that’s pretty much impossible.

10mh: If you could meet just one artist who would it be and why?

Joni Mitchell (Well, she’s technically an artist as well). And I would ask her the exact location of The Mermaid Café.

Gary Roberts finished a degree at Liverpool John Moores University and studied under Dutch portrait artist Ed Van Der Kooy in The Hague.


The New Artist Fair ran from 27th-29th March 2015 at Candid Galleries.

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